The Fan: The social overload?
Host: Ben Martin, Marshall Arts (UK)
Jackie Wilgar, Live Nation (US)
Chris Carey, Media Insight Consulting (UK)
Oliver Hoppe, Wizard Promotions (DE)
Jessie Scoullar, Wicksteed Works (UK)
Martin posed the question, how do we curate the right relationship with fans? before delving into the fascinating multi-layered toolbox that digital marketers are using to connect the audience with both their favourite artists and the acts who are just starting out on their careers.
Scoullar, who helps look after artists including Mumford & Sons, Keane, Jack Garratt and others, said, “It’s really important for artists to understand themselves, what values they have and how they want to communicate those ideas to their fanbase.” She stated, “The greater loyalty an audience has with an artist, the more money they are likely to spend on that artist.” Giving examples, she said Mumford & Sons band members became involved in fantasy football leagues, proving hugely popular, while Laura Marling has recorded a podcast series to discuss opportunities for women in the music industry – opening up a bigger discussion with a larger fanbase.”
“In terms of building relationships, integrity is the key thing – we can all think of deals where someone wears a pair of trainers that do not suit them or their image,” said Carey. “Some artists are very natural in front of a camera showing what they had for breakfast. If that’s not you naturally you’ll find it hard to fake it. The challenge is for the fan to be satisfied with what the band provides despite the fact that other acts provide a lot more.”
Wilgar contended that understanding fans and building trust are crucial goals. “The number one thing we hear from fans about why they did not attend a show is because they did not know about it. And the number one way they find out about a show is social, be that Facebook or whatever.
“The trust factor in understanding the fan is to ask them what their challenges are – we’ve found that we can build incremental methods so that they do know about the show. We also find that digital media offers some great ways to get feedback from fans.”
However, Wilgar warned that digital marketing is not the only way to deliver campaigns. “In general, radio still plays an incredibly important role, as does TV in certain markets. It’s key to ask whether your communication adds value and if it is consistent.”
Hoppe highlighted that one downside of social media is that most of the first comments he receives are negative. Wilgar agreed, stating that the negative feedback Live Nation receives is 120% more negative comments than positive. Hoppe cited an example of his Böhse Onkelz shows, which were attended by 100,000 people day, who drove 25,000 cars to the site. “We had a lot of complaints that people needed to wash their cars because they had been to a rock show.”
Scoullar gave some tips on how to build mailing lists, starting from grassroots level in clubs with clipboards to gather fan details. “We get a lot of data from our ticketing partners, which is extremely important,” she added.
Highlighting Spotify as a great partner for artists, Carey noted the detailed data they can provide, right down to the number of songs that have been streamed by fans city by city.
Fan representative Trish Leggatt told the session that Download Festival’s forums go way beyond hard rock. “We have a discussion board which talks about Taylor Swift and Steps – far away from the rock festival of Download.” She said, “A band like Green Day give constant updates on Instagram or Facebook or whatever. But smaller bands might not have help with their digital media and maybe just post about tour dates or record releases. But you still want to support those acts as well.” Indeed she name-checked an up-and-coming band called Creeper who have “taken off through their social media approach to conduct an old-fashioned treasure hunt that culminated in an album launch.”
SMG Europe’s John Sharkey asked about the perceived repetitiveness of the industry and whether it’s guilty of bombarding fans with messages. Scoullar said the artist has the right to communicate first, while Carey agreed that the artist is the ideal first point. But Wilgar shared Live Nation research that a fan needs on average seven hits before making the decision to buy a ticket, thereby highlighting the importance of repetitiveness. “But we need to co-ordinate with the artist, the venue, etc, to find out when their messaging is scheduled.”