Data is the fuel that powers our integrated ticketing and digital marketing engine at Ticketfly, informing our product roadmap by identifying the biggest opportunities to improve life for venues, promoters, and fans. Last year, we launched Ticketfly Fanbase, the first fan analytics suite for live events, which helps our partners analyze vast amounts of fan data to build loyalty and increase ticket sales.
To explore best practices for using fan data to drive business results, our VP of Marketing, Kristina Wallender, brought together a SXSW music panel of experts in Austin, TX earlier this month. Panelists included Alex White (CEO, Next Big Sound), Julien Mitelberg (CEO, Bandsintown), and Nate Auerbach (Music Strategist, Tumblr). Together, the group used their data mining and decision-making experience to answer the question, “How do you analyze fan data to understand, grow, and monetize fan communities?”
The staggering amount of fan data available ranges from geographic and demographic data to fan preferences expressed by likes, listens, and purchases. Wallender introduced the data-driven feedback loop – gathering data, interpreting data, creating an action plan, and enacting change – and asked the panelists to share the obstacles they faced at every stage.
For Next Big Sound and Tumblr, gathering data is the most crucial and difficult step. Next Big Sound has spent years and millions of dollars on mining data from constantly changing sources. MySpace went out of style and in crept YouTube, Facebook, etc., and there are still guilty pleasures and organic conversations yet to be analyzed. “You can’t listen to what people say they’re going to do. You have to measure what they are doing,” says White. According to White, as new channels are introduced, others phase out. The panelists agreed that data mining requires ongoing daily investment.
Bandsintown notifies fans when artists they like (or might like) are playing a show nearby. They aim to address the 40% of live event tickets that go unsold. According to Mitelberg, tickets go unsold mostly because fans don’t know when their favorite artists are coming to town. While Bandsintown is making a huge impact, they are still learning how to process and interpret fan data to create more value for users.
Creating action plans and enacting change are where Auerbach and Tumblr have the most fun. Today, younger audiences spend more time posting and interacting on Tumblr than any other social channel. “You must pay attention to the soul of the Tumblr community to learn how fans are taking music content and making it their own,” Auerbach says. “Data can tell you the trends and how you’re performing, but first you need to emotionally connect with your fans, then you can analyze how you’re doing.”
Key takeaways from the discussion:
1) Gathering and interpreting data is difficult (and costly), so it’s important to partner with businesses that help give you data access and insights.
2) Conclusions can’t be made from a single data source, so you should pull data from a variety of channels or leverage a comprehensive data provider.
3) Data is critical to success in the music business, but it can’t create music. For that you need instinct and intuition.