SoundCtrl has always been interested in the relationship between music and technology. From recording tracks, to releasing albums, to getting thousands of people through the doors for that one epic concert, when music and technology work together it’s a powerful combination. Today’s popular online ticketing service, Eventbrite, works to bring music and technology together in perfect harmony—powering live events like never before.
Unlike other ticketing agencies that are heavily involved in every step of the process, Eventbrite lets event organizers easily create online event pages, sell tickets and registrations, accept payments, and promote their events from a single place. No more crazy fees. No more confusing terms of service. No more middle man. Eventbrite has proven itself to be a horizontal platform that can be utilized for anything from a 60,000-person concert to an intimate show, and provides versatile features that support the different needs of each type of event. A festival is not the same as a symphonic concert, which is not the same as a music business seminar. And how attendees might like to buy their tickets and hold onto them is not the same either. Eventbrite accounts for all of these distinctions in its ticketing and registration services, its built-in social-sharing tools and its user-friendly mobile app.
Having processed over 100 million tickets to date, Eventbrite has become a household name in the events industry, while maintaining its simplicity and accessibility. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Eventbrite’s Vice President of Marketing, Tamara Mendelsohn and covered everything from what’s popular in music industry tech to how Eventbrite benefits its users, and not the other way around.
Sound Ctrl – Can you tell me a bit about the growth and evolution that Eventbrite has undergone since its inception?
Tamara Mendelsohn - Since our founding in 2006, Eventbrite’s goal has been to democratize ticketing through technology. We empower anyone to organize and create a live experience, and to seamlessly sell tickets for that event. We set out to create a self-service, easy-to-use ticketing platform, fueled by the best technology.
We started in 2006 as a very small team led by husband and wife co-founders Kevin and Julia Hartz. Over the last 6 years we’ve grown to nearly 250 employees, sold over 100 million tickets in 179 countries, and surpassed $1.5 billion in gross ticket sales. In 2012 alone we ticketed 500,000 events—40,000 of which were concerts and music festivals. It’s been quite the journey to say the least.
We’ve had a number of defining moments along the way. One major moment for us came in 2008 when we discovered how powerful social media was in influencing ticket sales. Events are unique in that they are inherently social and people want to share events that they discover with their friends. We saw this happening, and that it was fueling ticket sales as a result. So, social media became a core part of our strategy from very early on. We were one of the first Facebook Connect partners. We built the tools to integrate social sharing into our platform, and continue to evolve and push the limits on social.
Music has also had its defining moments on Eventbrite. Eventbrite is by design a horizontal platform, with events across all types and categories, from conferences to marathons to concerts. But music is one of the most powerful live experiences, and has become one of our major focal points.
Our music events started out primarily with smaller and more intimate shows, but the industry has increasingly pulled us into bigger and bigger events like music festivals. In 2011 we ticketed a Black Eyed Peas charity concert in Central Park. This was a 60,000-person concert and another major milestone for us. Since then, we’ve worked with a number of large festivals and promoters, including Governors Ball Music Festival in New York and Hangout Music Festival in Alabama this year. We also announced a partnership with Disco Donnie Presents, who produces over 1,000 electronic dance events each year.
But with all this growth and progress, we still feel like this is just the beginning and we have so much more that we want to do and accomplish.
SC – What are some major industry trends that are affecting live music right now?
TM - Mobile. Multi-channel engagement can no longer be ignored in the live music scene. More and more, fans expect to get all the info they want, wherever they are, whenever they want, and on their choice of device. They are looking for mobile experiences, both to augment the event through additional content and to easily find information. Today we’re seeing over a quarter of our traffic coming from mobile pages. We’ve had nearly 2.7 million downloads of our mobile app, which allows our attendees to access their paperless tickets and event information easily from their phone. They can also now see which of their Facebook friends are going to an event.
We’re also innovating with our partners in mobile—at the events themselves. For the first time, at this year’s Governors Ball Music Festival, fans can access their e-ticket, lineup & schedule, and a venue map all in one app. Eventbrite is working with Founders Entertainment and Aloompa to improve the attendee experience by bringing everything they need for the festival into one solid app.
Live Streaming Events. The notion of live music is evolving, and extending beyond the concert venue into our homes and onto our devices. We’re starting to see artists and promoters engage with their fans through live content, like streaming concerts or shows. It’s a way to interact with your fans beyond the physical event, and reach a bigger audience that isn’t constrained by geography or venue.
Some of our own organizers have begun to explore this opportunity. A recent example is Disco Donnie Presents and Mixify on the official Meltdown Digital Pre-Festival. This was an interactive streaming experience with the DJs from the Meltdown Music Festival taking turns spinning live in a virtual room on Mixify.com a few days before the main event. The digital event was really successful and drummed up even more excitement for the main festival. There was a lot of positive feedback from the fans.
SC - What are some of the user and attendee benefits of creating/attending an event through Eventbrite? Does one need to be well-versed in marketing to properly promote their event?
TM – In the beginning, our event organizers came on board because we were a fully accessible, easy-to-use ticketing platform with low fees. As the technology has evolved and we’ve innovated on social, mobile and big data, the role that we play in their events has also evolved. Today, for the event organizer we are not just a ticketing solution but a promotional platform for them to sell more tickets and reach more fans.
We bring real expertise in social media and event distribution so that our customers don’t necessarily have to be well-versed in marketing or promotion. We are constantly innovating with social media, and have measurable results that show real impact on ticket sales. We’ve optimized our solution for organizers to share their events on Facebook, and for attendees to share events they are discovering. We know that on average every Facebook share of an Eventbrite event results in $4.15 in additional revenue to the organizer—and this number is even higher for Eventbrite music events. We also send relevant, timely event notifications to fans when two or more of their Facebook friends buy tickets to the same event. This is powerful for music events because it literally turns your fans into your biggest promoters—so you’re not reaching just your existing fans but new fans as well.
We also have our event recommendation e-newsletters, with more than 12 million subscribers. Each newsletter is unique and customized to the person receiving the email. We power these recommendations with a huge amount of rich data: our algorithm processes terabytes of data each day about the events that the fans have been to, their interests, location, and what events their friends like or have attended to suggest these lists of events. This helps attendees discover great events that are relevant to them, and therefore helps organizers sell more tickets.
A lot of the power lies in the data we provide to event organizers. We believe that every customer should have real-time access to all of their data. We give our customers charts and dashboards to be able to monitor their sales and analyze trends anytime, and therefore make smarter business and marketing decisions.
All of this means that the organizer has greater tools to help promote their event. Some of it happens automatically without the organizer needing to drive it—social media amplification and event recommendations, for example. Some of it is about giving the organizer powerful levers like sales data and tracking analytics so that they are empowered to make the best decisions.
For the fan or event attendee, we offer an easy, secure way to find and purchase tickets to all kinds of great events and across all kinds of devices. We keep our ticket fees low. And we help attendees discover relevant new events that they’ll love, and share them with their friends. Our event recommendation newsletters have open rates of 40-50%, some of the highest rates in the industry. We also pride ourselves on our quality of service. Our customer support team operates 24/7—because events don’t stop happening after 9pm or on weekends.
SC- We’re thrilled to hear about everything Eventbrite has going on and equally as thrilled to have it play such an integral part in all of SoundCtrl’s event hosting experiences. Thanks for chatting with us!
Kira is an old school music nerd with a love for all things creative; always searching for music’s common ground. She graduated with an M.A. in Performing Arts Administration from New York University. Drop her a tweet @shadowmelody1