Muzeek CEO Danny Fiorentini is determined to help the live events industry operate more efficiently.
It’s a passion that lies at the heart of the platform he founded in 2012, with Muzeek seeking to help modernize the industry and save venues and promoters time, help artists and their teams automate opportunities, and pass the savings on to the consumer.
“Efficiency is so important, especially when it comes to an industry that relies upon a finite amount of people fitting in a limited space, and there is no scaling beyond that,” he offers. “So ultimately, our philosophy is you can't get more money into the pockets of the hard-working people of this industry without reducing the overhead that it cost to get to that point. So we're really focused on efficiency within the teams all collaborating with each other, removing a lot of the fluffy stuff, removing a lot of that manual data entry and admin.”
Here, Fiorentini discusses how the live industry can increase efficiencies, the benefits of doing so, and much more…
“Efficiency is so important, especially when it comes to an industry that relies upon a finite amount of people fitting in a limited space, and there is no scaling beyond that..."
In what ways is Muzeek helping the live events industry increase efficiencies?
It sounds obvious, but the modernization of processes was something that hadn't happened in the live music industry. We saw the recorded side of music essentially blow up into smithereens and everyone tried to figure out what their jobs were. I think the live music industry didn't go through that process, because it was business as usual, the money was moving towards live.
So I think the biggest thing was that once a black swan [COVID] happens, you're forced to look into the books. We had scenarios where the largest of agencies were coming to us and saying, ‘We built this system over 25 years ago, it hasn't changed, it costs us $200,000 every time we want to make a change, we don't want to do that anymore. We don't want to throw money into the black hole anymore. Because we can't, there's no revenue coming in.’
And then the same thing happened with the smallest of venues where they had to, unfortunately, let their promoter go. They couldn't afford the retainer anymore. And they needed to figure out how to book a band. And so we boiled it all down to the biggest change being there was no real protocol for the industry.
For recorded music [the protocol] is that you better have a SoundCloud, you better be on Spotify, better be on Apple Music, like bare minimum. And live music didn't really have a protocol from start to finish, and I’m talking about the matrix of the music industry: not-famous DJ to really famous club, very popular agency to small festival, they’re all over the place.
"The modernization of processes was something that hadn't happened in the live music industry."
It's that kind of uniqueness that became clear to us – that protocol needs to be consistent. Muzeek has had this protocol for a while, which is essentially sending branded confirmations to each other, kind of like the Google Calendar invites. At a very bare minimum, from the old Paradigm agency to Select Music to casinos in Vegas to a cafe to the DJ that's playing at [Sydney bar] Ravesis, they're all at least confirming the show's gonna happen. We've had that process built for years. And that became kind of the catalyst for what drove our growth for the last couple of years.
So, we approach the industry where we know that there's this matrix of users that don't all fit in the box. But ultimately, they're all starting with the same thing of like, I'm playing at X date for X amount of money, and that branded confirmation gives them this protocol, this professional way of doing business with each other.
That protocol’s essentially the same with everyone, yet we all have different ways of doing it: respond to this email with ‘yes’, or send me a text message or sign my PDF. It ultimately came down to, we're all really doing the same thing. But you have your documents, I have my documents, why are we doing that? Why don't we just consolidate it?
Yeah, exactly. Right.
Do you think this has been one of the biggest pain points for the live industry?
The pain points now are the logistics of how the world works and different types of regulations and rules and costs. [But] I do think transparency and lack of efficiency was the biggest pain point.
The industry is fundamentally changing the way it thinks: ‘Oh, so you mean I can integrate the system to build my tickets for me, send invoices to our accounting system, use the API to update our websites? But that's what that whole department does.’
You're sort of going, okay, do I need to go in my contract and find all the highlighted areas and change it every single time, spend a few hours adjusting that, if I have a system that can do all that type of stuff for me? So I'd say that one of the bigger pain points is this scenario where there's tons of frivolous processes that can be solved with technology and software. And the realization of that is really what's going to take the industry to the next step, I think.
"There's tons of frivolous processes that can be solved with technology and software."
Have you seen examples where increased efficiencies have raised revenue or sales?
Absolutely. I don't know if they've made this public so I won't say their name, but one of the largest venue groups that we have saved so much money on their operations, they actually raised the fees they gave their artists they hire, corporate wide. And they did that during the middle of the pandemic.
And that was a direct result of implementing our systems, because our APIs hooked into their corporate systems to generate invoices and do that automatically.
So utilizing an API can lead to that sort of efficiency?
I think that's a secondary effect. I think the first effect is the standardization that we talked about where the first order of business is, how do you address the industry and the market?
First and foremost you have to modernize yourself to having a headquarters, having a platform where it's your calendar, it's how you confirm your deal terms. And then the secondary or tertiary effect of that is that, oh, you're this major operation, you can use APIs, then you're really pouring fuel on the fire.
You can't fit more people into your venue, your venue is literally that size. You can sell out every show for 365 days a year, and you are capped at that much money, unless you figure out a way to get the fan to spend more money. So the only way to make more money and reward yourself and the artists and the promoter at the same time is to reduce the overhead and apply that to other situations.
That doesn't mean you fire all your employees. But ultimately, the marketing person is wearing three different hats. The booker is the marketer and the promoter, and sometimes doing accounting. So, if you can have a system that reduces all that, and makes that efficiency happen, and then you just go that 1% more and plug APIs in to all these other systems, that 1% to 10% margin back in their pockets is an absurd amount.
So I really think that's the key here. It's not necessarily just the API, but it's kind of a starting point of having that platform that does all those things. And then that is kind of like the steroids that you can add to it.
"You can sell out every show for 365 days a year, and you are capped at that much money, unless you figure out a way to get the fan to spend more money."
Have you noticed any trends in ticketing over the past 12 months?
The only thing I can probably definitively say is that we've seen a much bigger increase in split deal terms, which is this implication that, hey, if we're going to put this show on, then we're each going to take the risk. So, less guarantees, more kind of collaborative deal terms.
Less massive, upfront style festival type of deals. Definitely way more clauses and contracts about cancelations and stuff like that.
An API scenario that [we] talk about is real-time weather updates inside the app. Or giving the insight that, hey, it's typically a rainy period in Brisbane in April. And so therefore, there's a 35% chance this gets cancelled. But if you wait another 20 days, historically that's a better time period. So that's the type of thing that we're looking to implement on a public level.
That would be of immense use for organizers of outdoor events…
Exactly. And our approach is like, the opaqueness of the industry was often considered the IP of the industry, right? So the IP of the industry was like, I know these people and I have this data and only I can get this person at this time. And I think that's decentralizing a bit. But we're at this decentralization point where it’s essentially empowering a lot of the users, and ultimately we want to be a tool that continues that.
"The IP of the industry was like, I know these people and I have this data and only I can get this person at this time. And I think that's decentralizing a bit."
What do you think are the key ways that venues, artists and managers can operate more efficiently?
The number one thing is to adopt a standardized process. And in this case, a platform. Muzeek is one of those platforms, giving you the tools to supercharge or essentially empower your operation.
You could be a band of two, of five, of one, you can be a venue, cafe, or you could be a massive festival or agency. And ultimately, modernizing your processes to efficiency is literally adopting platforms that do things for you – they are your assistant, they are automating things.
I know automation is a little bit of a taboo, because [people worry] it's gonna take the jobs away. But it's really the opposite of that. In the course of human history, automation has actually increased jobs. It frees up time in your day to accomplish things to make sure that your events are successful, people are coming to your shows. So ultimately, the first and foremost thing is having a platform where you collaborate on things together.
Modernize your processes, make things more efficient, because the only way that you can actually earn more money is reducing the amount of money it takes to get to that goal.