Social Media & Touring

The streaming discussion is definitely the hot topic in music right now (see here, here and here). Apparently it is easy to overlook the current most critical revenue generator for musicians: the tour.

Two things have completely turned around in the industry.

  1. Key revenue streams went from recordings to touring
  2. Mass communication changed forever with the internet. It went from one way, broadcasting (tv, radio, print), to interactive (social media).

After the very chaotic, noisy and public turbulence the music industry has been going through, we believe we’re reaching a balance where revenue streams and communication methods are not only starting to work together, but actually complement each other.

It’s About Live Music

Mick Jagger said this in The New York Times in 2010. Since then the touring business has gone only up. Billboard wrote this article 2 years ago literally claiming that touring was a gold mine, with one heavy-weight after the other claiming the growth of the live music industry is simply unbelievable.

It’s not only the big stars that are filling venues, but artists of all sizes and genres and age.

“You Don’t Need The Same Audience For Every Show”

Dennis Arfa, is the president of the AGI (Artist Group International). He explains that there are a lot of people willing to go see a live show. Having a wide range of events means there is something for everyone.

Overall success of live events grows, so the line-ups can be better, meaning live events appeal to a larger portion of the general public. Scheduling and pricing has also become more savvy.

Niche Audiences

Michelle Phan to Fast Company — see here.

What changed with the digitalisation of music was that the audience became increasingly fragmented. When all music is available to everyone, people of course just listen to what they like.

The internet fosters individuality and intimacy where niche audiences blossom — for example around a specific artist or a defined music genre. What was a general misconception, that this fragmentation of the audience would be limiting, has proven not to be the case at all.

Fragmented Audience
+ Wide Range of Live vents
= Everyone’s Happy

When the key revenue generator isn’t albums any more, but a wide selection of live events — these niches become a huge advantage. It means we don’t only have the big megastars, but niche artists who can successfully tour. Arfa confirms this

“fans turned out to see a wide range of acts, in varied stages of their career arc, from diverse genres, all of which bodes well for the overall popularity of live music.”

“Lack of Awareness Is Touring’s Biggest Obstacle”

“One primary reason why more tickets are selling today is because of the extremely target and efficient marketing opportunities afforded by new media and strategic use of mobile, social, email, channel marketing and digital sales channels”
 — Dennis Arfa, President of Artist Group International (AGI).

Arfa highlights that the biggest and most critical element of touring is letting the fans know about the show. The difference between 2013 onwards and the years before (AGE live reported overall gross growing 97% from 2012 to 2013) was using data analytics to drive sales.

Arfa claims that he and many in the industry would state that to be the key reason for significantly moving the needle on live ticket sales, using

“[the e]xtremely targeted and efficient marketing opportunities afforded by new media and strategic use of mobile, social, email, channel marketing and digital sales channels”.

The Fan-Friendly Approach

Bottom line for the live music industry — it’s the business of delivering sheer numbers, not just once but repeatedly. The best way of doing that is keeping the attendees happy.

This means booking, promotion, pricing, scheduling and all the other elements are moving towards a more fan-friendly approach, up to and including direct artist to fan communication.

Direct Artist To Fan Communication

Turns out what the fans appreciate, is direct communication with their idol(s). The artists who have embraced this dominate the most followed and interacted with social media accounts of all.

The photos show the most followed Twitter accounts, where 7/9 are musicians: currently active and regularly touring. Their success is not only on the internet, but translates to having some of the highest grossing tours of recent years. 
See the top tours of 2016, 2015, 2014

Fan to Friend

This works extremely well. Even though the interaction can be direct fan-to-artist, it’s still public. That means it’s noticed in both in the wider network of the fan, but also by other fans of the artists. Sometimes these interactions even make it into the media cycle. Going to an event is a pretty big deal to fans. The bigger shows take a serious investment on the attendees behalf, and they might only go once or twice a year.

What does that mean?

They’ll share that they’re going on social media to their own miniature audience, as it increases their personal social media ‘klout’. According to 2014 survey done by Live Nation in Canada more than half of all live event attendees share photos of their experiences online, almost exclusively on Facebook.

What’s more is as we spend more time on social media than ever, we rely on it for updates of what’s happening. More importantly we as the general public are more receptive to an update from our friends than any marketing message ever could be. So any member of fan’s said miniature audience is not only more receptive to their friend update about a live event — they’re more inclined to check it out, and might even attend themselves.

According to the same study, facebook holds the most persuasion power when it comes to concertgoers with over a third having been influenced to attend a concert because of a facebook post. Half of the convinced did not know about the event before seeing it appear in their Facebook newsfeed.

Social Media Enhances The Event Experience

Taylor Swift in her WSJ op-ed last summer

Finally social media actually enhances the event experience. The attendee earns ‘bragging rights’ as they tell their friends that they are going. The concertgoers like to ‘check in’, find who else is in the audience, see the artist tweets and Instagram photos before and during the event. Afterwards they relive the event by finding videos shared on the event hashtag and the artist thanking the audience for being ‘the best one yet’.

Those at home like seeing their friends doing something cool. Their first-hand storytelling makes them feel a part of the narrative and a part of the event. Interestingly that doesn’t diminish the value of the ‘actual’ event, but rather enhances it.

And That’s How It Goes Full Circle

The photo shows artists producing content during a live event with their fans to post on social media for their other fans who may or may not want to attend their future live events

From The Industry’s Perspective

Most money spend by consumers is on live events.

  • As the live music industry grows, a wider range of events can be offered.
  • Finding an audience is easier because of more efficient and targeted marketing with social media.
  • To keep the sheer volume of attendees required, the industry moves to a more fan-friendly approach on all operational elements, up to and including direct fan-to-artist communication.
  • Said communication spreads organically through the artist’s network of fans, and the fans’ personal networks.

From The Fan’s Perspective

  • Audiences like sharing on social media that they’re going to get ‘social media cred’.
  • Their own miniature audience is interested in what their friends are doing and more inclined to find out more about the event.
  • This organic spread introduces the artist to a bigger potential audience, and audiences to new artists which contributes to overall growth of the live music industry.
  • The ‘fans audience’ like the second hand experience of the live event through their friend.
  • Said audience will be more inclined to find out about other events by the artist or even just any other live event.
So more touring leads to more social media traction which leads to more fans wanting to attend more live shows.
Photo Attributions:
Banner: David Jones; Mumford & Sons: Kmeron; Mick Jagger: aka Francois aka Mister Pink; Audience attributions — Top left: Eva Rinaldi, Top right: Mixtribe, Bottom left: Electro Beach Music Festival , Bottom right: Future Music Festival; Michelle Phan: from video “Glowing skin Look ✧ Ethereal Aura”; Twitter photos: profile photos from respective accounts (2016); Taylor Swift: Ronald Woan; One Direction: Live in Milano
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