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Why knowing who and where your fans are can make the difference in marketing

Fan Map

One notion that we often find repeated in our many conversations with successful managers and music marketeers is that the momentum of a given artist began in one post code or another or that there was a targeted effort in a specific location that sparked the initial buzz that drove a project forward. Location-based marketing methods are tried and tested tactics and have been utilized for decades across many industries but, in the digital age of mass consumption and big data in the music industry, understanding who and where your most valuable fans are and having a direct connection with them creates fresh opportunities for enhanced engagement and opens up the possibility of new revenue streams within your fanbase. Employing these strategies is becoming increasingly important if you want the most return from your marketing investments and to build a strong sustainable fanbase. The question is where do you find this data and how do you glean the insights?

If you look through music history post code/zip code is often a powerful component in numerous success stories that speaks to an identity of place and a strong connection between a community of like-minded individuals in a locale that harbors some concentrated hotbed of creative innovation at a given moment in time. Often that place is a venue (think CBGB’s in New York or the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester), a studio or a label, but sometimes it’s a group of fans that lived in proximity to each other that came together through shared experience of music. In all of these scenarios place serves as a springboard.

In the new age of big data where there is constant competition for our attention and with the nascent use of mobile phones, personalization is on the rise. We simply don’t have the band width or time to process what’s coming through the channels and the ascent of playlist culture has, to some degree, homogenised the sonic dna of the top end majority of the musical charts.  What maybe more pressing in general for music artists right now as we see illustrated in the recent #lovemusic campaign against Article 13, is that inadvertently through the growth of streaming, artist’s income is becoming ever more reliant on live revenue and merchandise sales. That means investments into content such as recordings and videos are now increasingly forced into indirect monetisiation through live, experiential and merchandising income streams. This is why a building a heatmap of your fans and having a more precise reading of where your fans are is an exciting new data set to have in your armoury; Not only to help foster deeper connections by tapping into a sense of place but also as a tool to collect and organise the data that will help you to spend your marketing budgets more effectively.

Enhancing your ability to foster more meaningful relationships with your fans, especially in music’s crowded marketplace, can amplify a sense of community and help to more easily convert every interaction into tangible sales than chasing other metrics such as follows, likes, thumbs up or streams in isolation. Targeting your efforts into location-based marketing lends even more strength to your campaigns and creates further valuable data capture points along the way.

Speaking to each fans’ sense of place, offering convenience and unique opportunities based on their location proffers numerous benefits that can augment strategic planning at both extremes of the market wether you are planning activations for established stars or working with an artist who is just starting out. But, as we have discussed in previous blogs, numbers on their own are not indicative of what type of fan has engaged. It’s the richer data connected to the numbers that is the more useful to marketeers. Spotify, Youtube, Facebook and Insta and all have developed some very nice visualisations and targeting tools based on their user location data but the veracity of this data is feeble. Furthermore, you won’t own your own data using these platforms alone and they can be costly to use before making any return. For example, who are the fans that make up your streaming numbers how do you identify those who will go on to purchase tickets or merchandise or become life-long fans? How can you react in a way that recognises and rewards these types of fans and strengthens your communications with them? Which fans are sharing your music and turning on other fans? Knowing when a fan has reacted, how much they shared your content and how much more engagement they themselves have generated is way more useful and these are the metrics we are collecting for our clients through the Openstage platform and we are marrying each set of data to fans’ location so you can achieve geo targeted communications down to individual fan level. A super fan is an advocate and a powerful word-of-mouth marketeer on your team who, in monetary terms, is worth thousands of streams alone so it is smart to train your marketing on engaging more with these individuals.

We have seen that fans will gladly share their data in exchange for a greater sense of collaboration or for gaining priority access and recognition for their loyalty from their favourite artists but actually knowing who and where your fans are and how far they would like to travel to shows, married with the ability to target your communications precisely to these locations is maybe the differentiator that unlocks the greatest advantages of all. It is these location specific insights that enable us to activate street teams or bolster chart positions through targeted pre-sale via location or open up new revenue streams in pop up type events where we have been able to gauge and build demand via location.


Why is this? Firstly, we believe there is a strong pride of place element at play and we have seen this play out first hand when fans have co-created events with artists using the Openstage platform, encouraging events to take place in their home town by demonstrating real time fan demand. Secondly, convenience plays a part when creating events in places you can see the most demand be that for a gig or sometimes even more-so for a pop-up style event such as a meet and greet. But perhaps most importantly, we are noticing a ripple effect stemming from these more targeted communications that is married to the power of the word of mouth buzz associated with a geographical region. Using data to amplify these emotional connections to place improves your ability to transact on each fan engagement and further strengthen the effect through tangible increases in user generated content that have more potency because of that association to sense of place.

There is a growing body of research that shows personalised messages will enjoy greater engagement than their generic counterparts, and location-based personalisation is no different. The ease at which you can turn your marketing efforts into purchases of tickets, bundles and merchandise is accelerated and, in the same breath, fans love to be recognized and feel listened to by their favourite artists. This creates a deeper affinity with your fans and matches their desire for priority, loyalty, inclusivity and choice. By nurturing these relationships with your most valuable fans you will be able to more easily develop a sustainable business and more fruitful life-long relationship between fan and artist. Making your communication stand out in this way will empower you to win long term mind share in the zeitgeist.

It’s a long hard road to the top but getting to your first 100 tickets in any location is a metric that deserves great respect and in our experience is actually one of the hardest parts of any artist’s journey. This beginning phase of any artist’s career is akin to an aeroplane before take-off when all the forces of weight and drag are working against the plane at their most intensely. Reaching the benchmark of selling 100 tickets outside of your home town illustrates that a momentum has been achieved though adoption that is analogous to that plane taking off. Wether that adoption is purely fan based or the industry waking up to real buzz it’s a number that gets us excited because reaching this marker in any career means something is clicking. Momentum is everything and has a magic quality attached to it that all involved can sense and it is the timed force that will propel each artist on to the next show in a bigger venue or serve as a springboard to generate buzz in another town or city.

Knowing who your top ten fans are in any place is great but when you’re trying to reach your first 100 tickets owning this data and having the ability to get down to post code specific communication has even more significance. These are your first fans and should be handled with care. These are the very people who will tell another three of their friends to come along to your next show and enable you to expand your fanbase in any location. Knowing who and where these fans are at the beginning of your journey offers a huge advantage and imagine being able to easily track and reward these fans the whole way through your progression and reward them proportionally for their loyalty. Some of them could be wearing golden hats at your mainstage performance in 3 years’ time because you captured where that fan relationship started. By investing your efforts and using these valuable connections these are the fans most likely to be buying tickets and travelling further for bigger shows later down the line. Fans feeling involved in this way are more likely to reciprocate the buzz and pass on the good news to more potential fans and again more easily grow your fanbase and the resulting sustainable base line business for your artist.

One recent use case of our technology that has got us all excited is with a band from the North of England who had already amassed millions of streams and have also begun to play shows at grass roots venues across the UK. They wanted to build street teams ahead of planning their first national tour but didn’t trust the data they could see from their social media channels and streaming numbers. After posting their first link with Openstage the location data started pouring in and they were immediately surprised to find they had engaged fans in the south west of England as well as in Cambridge so now they could add two new locations to consider targeting ahead of the tour. Within a week of working together we were able to identify 25 locations that contained clusters of 20 or more fans and, using these insights, twenty-five street teams were created. For each street team we knew the name and location of each fan. Fans also gladly shared their mobile numbers and email addresses on the promise of increased engagement with the band who incentivize the fans by agreeing to come and play pop up shows in each location. The band now had the ability to talk to each fan individually or as part of the street team in each location and set rewards accordingly to entice further sharing of their music and video links. Pop-up events were ticketed and presented new opportunity for merchandise sales and these events will also produce more valuable content to fuel the marketing ahead of the tour. This highly targeted communication methodology is not only helping to building a greater affinity with the fans in each location but is growing real world demand for future tickets that will ultimately de-risk the process of putting their first national tour on-sale which, unless managed properly, is often a substantial financial risk.

There are clear benefits to be had at the top end of the industry too. In the primary ticketing market millions of tickets that are put on-sale never get sold – that is a huge amount of potential revenue being lost and there is an obvious need to bring more efficiency to the market. How often are we hearing about big stadium and arena shows being half full? More precise demand data can undoubtedly prevent this from happening and could even help expand the primary market whilst simultaneously reducing the marketing costs involved with putting on big shows and global tours. However, the real gold may again be found by collecting all your fan data along with the geo insights that will help you to nurture fan relationships in a fresh way and open up new revenue streams with them.

Come and see for yourself how building these heatmaps and collecting this data is easy with Openstage and we will show you how it’s done. If you’re interested please get in touch with James or Rob using the info below.

James Barnett: james@openstageit.com

Rob Sealy: rob@openstageit.com

#music #marketing #musicmarketing #livemusic #data #insight #musicindustry