Live Music as Means for Brand Engagement
The festival model has taken the music industry by storm: Austin City Limits, Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza have all revolutionized how music is discovered and consumed. This panel consisted of Andrew Klein of AEG Live, Hank Neuberger of Springboard Productions, Jimmy Chamberlin of LiveOne Group (and former drummer of the Smashing Pumpkins), and moderator John Petrocelli of Bulldog Digital Media. All four of these men have made a great impact on the music industry, and are now working on developing more ways for music enthusiasts to consume their content, specifically from these renowned music festivals.
The conversation began with a discussion about the current state of the music industry in the ever growing digital space. Chamberlin believes that the opportunities for live streaming of music events have endless possibilities. Not only in the music space, but in sports, news and on the Red Carpet, live online video consumption is growing at a rapid pace. Chamberlin’s company, LiveOne group, has developed “a real-time social engagement platform [that] enables content creators, media partners and brand sponsors to instantly create immersive real-time live stream experiences on their own web platforms,” called CrowdSurfing. Typically when live streaming an event you are just seeing the content. There is no interaction with fans, or others that are in the audience – and as Chamberlin explained “content isn’t always the key. It is a component of a [music] festival, but a lot of the experience is environmental. The physical experience is key.” At LiveOne group, they have seen a significant increase in fan engagement with their CrowdSurfing experience, but there is a ton of room for growth.
Klein then jumped in to the discussion to express that all events must have some type of differentiation strategy. “The talent at these festivals is similar. You have to produce compelling content besides just shooting the stage at a concert. Who cares what stage they are on? You have to make it engaging and interactive…have to get strong tune in and participation to get the advertisers. Content needs to go beyond the performance.”
Both Klein and Neuberger discussed the audience’s desire for “shoulder content.” In a music setting, this is anything that adds to the main performance, something that keeps the audience engaged between performances. Neuberger gave an example from one of the festivals he helped put on with Red Bull they would have hosts standing off to the side of the stage who would conduct interviews with artists after they finished their performance. He said that they had no idea if it would be a success or not before implementing it. After the festival, Red Bull gathered all of the data to see if the audience watching via digital channels stuck around during the hosted segments; the audience did stick around through this shoulder content, and actually there were typically spikes in viewership after these segments. Here is an example of what this would look like.
After speaking about the great opportunities live streaming through digital channels have offered and potential areas for growth, the discussion shifted to the idea that many brands are struggling to create successful engagement opportunities with the digitally savvy, connected consumer – those that don’t consume media in traditional ways. Klein explained that within the music industry, short form content is the key. He says a great opportunity for platforms such as Vine, Instagram, Snapchat, and Meerkat (which he just learned about pre-session). Though he does think that short form content is the direction the industry is going, Klein stated that “the average person watches Coachella for 65 minutes as a branded experience, much more than live TV…the global broadcast has taken Coachella to a massive global property and YouTube drives a lot of the tuning.”
Building off of the same notion that short term content platforms are in the future for the music industry, Chamberlin explained that he’s seeing a trend in people “wanting to consume on mobile in bite-sized chunks, but not an entire concert experience. With this, you need the physical look and feel [of a concert or festival]. You want to legitimize a live event…live content is about community, discussion…this makes is a life experience.” This has been the goal of the LiveOne CrowdSurfing initiative. The organization is still learning how people communicate online about, and during these different music festivals.
Neuberger concluded this discussion with how the festival model has changed the music industry. “The dominant way to promote was putting a band in an arena, the stadium sells hard tickets…but the savviest promoters saw the festival model as an ideal model. There is the experience of being there with your friends. Being around a lot of people is more compelling, creates a whole different chemistry than going to the arena.” He then posed the question, “how do we extend this experience online?” To do this, the industry must scale and justify – they are going to have to convey more of the totality of the experience online, get people talking and engaging with others. Neuberger provided an example of how artists are leveraging the music festival experience to increase their engagement throughout digital channels. At Austin City Limits, Childish Gambino released a music video. Throughout the day, Gambino occasionally would tweet that he had something special in store for his fans tonight at ACL. After 55 minutes of his performance, Gambino played his new music video on a screen for all ACL participants to see. This move created tremendous buzz throughout social media, especially with those who were streaming the video from ACL and sharing with their social circle online.