Even with all the buzz around online Direct To Fan marketing tools and techniques, I still firmly believe that live events are one of the best ways to connect directly with fans in a meaningful way. Similar to how DTF initiatives have expanded the relationship between artist and fan as it pertains to retail, it’s encouraging to see artists expanding the boundaries of what constitutes a “tour” (such as David Bazan’s “living room” show series) as well.

Artists are becoming more adept at using technological tools and third party partners to bring the spirit and energy of a live event to folks that are unable to attend in person. Sheila Hash, a former Online Music Marketing with Topspin student, is engaging in a wonderful “take-away show” initiative with her band Crush Luther, which provides their hard core fans with an opportunity to check out a unique and personal acoustic performance, and perhaps more importantly, also works as a compelling introduction for casual and potential fans. Take a look at an example, here:

no plan 8 #132. “slowdance anywhere i go” from Justin Borja on Vimeo.

In terms of music marketing, videos events like this can also help to extend the life cycle of a band’s release by providing serialized content well past release date, which is crucial in keeping fans engaged with your band.

Of course traditional live club events still provide an opportunity for artists to establish long-term fan relationships, and Christopher Grant Ward from The Elk (another former student in my Online Music Marketing with Topspin course) has created a wonderful data-driven analysis on the techniques he used to promote his show, with a focus on increasing his number of fans (in this case, defined as permission-based email contacts) and maximizing traffic at the event. While data analysis is key to guiding a successful online music marketing campaign, it’s rare to see an artist go into such detail around a live event. I think what Christopher created is a valuable case study, and I’m psyched to be able to present the details:

Overview:

* Campaign duration: 40 days (02/10 – 03/31)
* Goals:
1) Maximize audience turn-out for the “Rock The Pink Slip” concert
2) Grow the band’s permission-based email list.

Data Analysis of Campaign

(click to enlarge)

Campaign Details

Site Visibility, Pricing, and Acquisition Techniques

A month out from the event, Christopher implemented a tiered approach to selling tickets to the show on his own Website. As mentioned above, the goal of this campaign was focused on increasing the draw to the show and acquiring new fans (as opposed to focusing strictly on monetization), and as such Christopher offered the tickets at extremely reasonable prices: 1 ticket cost $4.00, 2 tickets cost $7, and 4 cost for $10. Because Christopher was using Topspin to facilitate the ticket sales, he was able to collect the email addresses of everyone that purchased from him (thus capturing the fan relationship). PDFs of the tickets were created, and all purchasers were put on a list that the bouncer checked at the door.

Advertising

14 days prior to the event, a small online ad campaign was initiated on Facebook and Google AdWords. Christopher experimented with several sets of ads over the course of the campaign, which correlated to two periods of high click rates (see graph above). The 1st of these high periods targeted a larger, more broad audience and directly promoted the show. This ad yielded the highest click rates but had no conversions.

The 2nd of these periods targeted smaller audiences and promoted the band’s music. These ads yielded somewhat fewer clicks but a significantly higher lift in plays (via a Topspin widget) and emails collected. Messages that directly promoted the show yielded significantly fewer visits, plays and emails collected.

Facebook Video Share Initiative

One month out from the event, Christopher released a video on Facebook, with prominent calls to action and direct links to the ticket offer information on his site. While the video was responsible for the largest spike in plays (Christopher was also using Topspin’s Email for Media and streaming player widgets) during the live event campaign, the video was ineffective at driving traffic or ticket sales.

Campaign Results

Again, as this campaign was focused on growing the band’s permission-based email list, the fan relationship statistics were the main gauge of success.

* Concert Attendees: 211
* # of New Email Addresses: 83. This translated into a 94% increase in the band’s email list.
* Unique Visits to band site: 1384 (based on Google Analytics data from 02/10 – 03/31)
* Total Page Views: 2910 (based on Google Analytics data from 02/10 – 03/31)

While revenue was not the main focus of the campaign, the band didn’t want to lose money, either. Details on expenses and sales for the event:

Ticket Breakdown:

Average ticket price: $5.46
# of $8 (door) tickets sold: 98 ($784)
# of $4 tickets sold: 46 ($184)
# of $3.50 tickets sold: 18 ($66)
# of $2.50 tickets sold: 48 ($120)

Gross Earnings: $1154
less advertising expenses: $325
less club take: $235
================
Net Earnings: $594

Cost Analysis of Emails Collected

It’s difficult to estimate the lifetime value of an email address. Christopher took a stab at estimating the cost of acquiring the 83 emails by dividing the money left on the table if the band did not discount the tickets by the amount of emails collected to come up with a cost of $3.54 per email. The math looks like this:

The band made $370 on tickets sold through direct sales on the site.
If those tickets were sold at full cost (assuming they got the
same number of concertgoers) they would have earned $664 on that same
segment. The money left on the table was $294. Divided by 83 emails, the cost
of each email collected could be calculated as $3.54.

This number was valuable to the band in estimating how they should price their
products and to help them gauge what expenses are cost-effective to building their
Network.

Post-Show Campaign and Analysis

About 30% of total visits to the site and 10% of emails collected occurred *after* the show. The band prepped an HTML page and Topspin widget before the concert. At the show, they used a photographer, videographer and audio engineer to capture live content from the show, and by the time the fans got up the next morning after the show, they had live audio and photos from the show in their inbox. The following weekend, the band released live video of the concert as well, paired with an album purchase offer. Following up with fans after gigs was a great way to continue driving traffic and getting new play and email conversions.

Here’s the video that was sent out post-show:

<param name="flashvars" value="widget_id=http://cdn.topspin.net/api/v1/artist/49/single_track_player_widget/20095?timestamp=1271291020&theme=black&highlightColor=0x00A1FF ” />

Further Analysis and Findings

1. Club ticket sales are time sensitive. Sales of concert tickets on the site were quite low until right before the show. In fact, 95% of ticket sales occurred less than 48 hours before show time (a spike in emails collected on show night can be attributed to these sales.) Even during the band’s largest spike in visits (200+) on March 17th, the band yielded fewer than $10 in sales. Overall, it is impossible to tell how many of these prior visitors may have returned to purchase tickets. Most people probably decide to see a club show within three days of gig night, especially when there is no stated limit on ticket sales.

2. Advertising data showed a lift in the number of visits to the band’s site, but few conversions. The good news is that targeted ads drove traffic, even for an unknown band and small club events. The bad news is that it was impossible to correlate ad clicks to returning visitors who purchased tickets.

3. Christopher’s targeted campaign more than doubled his permission based email list, and created dozens of new fan connections which he can use for re-marketing down the line, for free (as opposed to starting over with his next marketing campaign).

I’d like to thank Christopher for sharing this fantastic data. Follow up with him and The Elk, here.