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November 17, 2022

How the Top Promoters & Festivals Are Marketing Events for 2023

We spoke with Chris Woods, Music Partnerships at Audience Republic, who’s worked with festivals, venues and tour promoters for over five years to discuss the challenges and trends he’s experienced throughout 2022. We also looked forward to next year and discussed what the landscape for 2023 is looking like. 

Chris Woods, Music Partnerships at Audience Republic

A Check-In On The Current Market 

What are some of the biggest challenges that promoters, festivals and venues are facing right now?

“There's a lot of challenges at the moment that they're possibly facing for the first time ever in light of the pandemic. I think it's unprecedented how many options there are for events right now. There seems to be more events than there ever has been. So that's a real challenge, it's competitive.”

“To add to that there’s an overall shift in consumer behavior. Issues such as promoters who haven't been able to manage refund expectations and multiple events getting delayed or canceled have created some sense of delay when it comes to purchasing tickets earlier.” 

“That's not necessarily the fault of the promoters, but that's the key thing I'm seeing is that people are buying tickets later. Fans are waiting, they know that there's lots of events, and that's hitting some verticals more than others. Festivals are definitely struggling or finding it harder to convert sales early despite pretty amazing lineups. So that's unique. And I think that that's just a bit of a hangover of the pandemic.”

What does rising inflation mean for promoters? 

“In short, it means increasing costs. The supply chain has been affected, particularly around production. So whether it's security, the infrastructure needed to put on festivals and concerts, particularly if they are an outdoor or green field, it's been really hard. I think inflation is playing into that as well. Flying between cities is more expensive, hiring transport is more expensive, as are hotels these days.”

Are there any issues with consumer spending habits? 

“I think the fact that international travel in particular is back, a lot of people are keen to get out and explore again. It seems to be something we're seeing across all markets. So Europe, the UK, definitely the US and Australia have obviously done it really tough with lots of lockdowns.”

“So there seems to be more international travel happening and that's expensive for people so that's definitely a challenge in how much spending can actually be done and how much money people have.”

An amazing lineup doesn’t guarantee ticket sales anymore, says Chris.

What else are you seeing causing problems for promoters at the moment? 

“I'm seeing that finding skills, especially specialist skills, whether that's on the marketing or production side of things is difficult.” 

“People have left the industry and they've taken new jobs outside of events because they had to. So there's a finite amount of that skill, and finding people with those skills and being able to utilize those people as efficiently as possible has created an issue for event organizers.

Innovation and Staying Ahead Of The Curve 

What the most forward-thinking and smart event organizers are doing with their marketing?

“The sophisticated promoters and marketers are realizing that they’ve got to refresh and build their database. Just because somebody was a customer of theirs in 2019 before the pandemic doesn’t guarantee that they’re a customer now.”

“The smart organizers are the ones that are using their events to refresh their database because people are changing and people's tastes have changed. New artists have emerged and people have also moved location. Because of COVID there’s less people in the metropolitan areas.”

“Event organizers who are ahead of the game are making sure their customer data is up to date by using presale registrations and signup forms to their advantage across all of their digital assets. All organizers really need to start collecting that new data.” 

“It's all about making the most of the announcement and presale registrations or sign up forms. Even if it's a basic signup form, where you're just collecting an email address only. Although it’s one piece of information, what that's doing is giving you the ability to send reminders to fans closer to going on sale so you remain top of mind in this saturated market.”

“The successful organizers are also using SMS. In my opinion, not using SMS is a huge missed opportunity. The open and click through rates are higher than most, if not all other forms of marketing and what we're also seeing is that sales are higher from SMS marketing.”

Which tech solutions are the smart organizers using to streamline their operations and do more with less? 

“Smart organizers are utilizing new technologies to automate manual processes and understand audiences. They’re getting really granular and understanding who their fans are. Are they still customers and are they missing some key customer segments or profiles that they’re maybe not paying attention to, that they should be?”

“These technologies are saving time which means they can get more done with finite resources as well as bringing some of those tasks in-house to save on costs. I think that's a really key part of it.”

Chris mentioned how flexible payments were becoming increasingly popular with fans as ticket prices soar, explaining that flexible payments are a way to reduce the barrier to entry for fans. 

“On the consumer side, the sophisticated promoters and marketers are looking to leverage things like payment plans or flexible cost models, particularly when you're promoting festivals, or a really expensive concert. So whether it's an AfterPay, Klarna or a Latitude Pay, I think utilizing BNPL options like these are allowing them to secure some sales early on, while reducing that barrier to entry for punters because there are so many events.”

Ensuring fan data is up to date is crucial to staying ahead of the curve. 

Looking Forward to 2023

How do you see the live music landscape changing over the next 12 months?

“I'm super optimistic. Right now, there's heaps of challenges for sure, but I think the demand is there. Speaking to a lot of promoters there is this ‘let's go’ mentality and people are keen.” 

“We were so deprived for so long and I think that that means that there's the potential to increase capacities. There's still a lot of people that are holding on to tickets from previous shows that are still rolling out. Maybe they had some negative experiences so there's a little bit of trepidation there, but I'm pretty optimistic.” 

“I think that finding staff is going to be an ongoing challenge, so wherever event organizers can look at technology to help them become more efficient, that’s going to be important. I do feel for organizers, in terms of the production costs and supply chain. I think that's putting some pressure on them, but do think that there's demand there, which means that I think people can afford a little bit more on the ticket price. I speak with clients in all markets and I think there's a lot of demand. This demand is definitely going to be what drives the industry forward.” 

With 2023 set to be the busiest year yet for live events, set yourself up for success to sell more tickets and own your audience. To chat with Chris or another one of our product experts book a demo to see our platform in action. 

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