Tag Archives: Web 2.0

How Social Networks Help Your Event Sell Out

22 Nov

Last night, I had a bunch of friends over for a Thanksgiving potluck.  As we were sitting around after dinner, drinking coffee and lamenting Northwestern’s loss at historic Wrigley Field on Saturday, I started thinking about the power of social networks to bring people together.  There were my friends from high school, fraternity brothers, my girlfriend’s roommates – all together, sharing pie, and all because of the various ties of my social network.

So what does all this have to do with ticketing and event marketing? Quite a lot, it turns out.  Social networks – who we know and how we know them, and in turn who they know – are a fundamental thread of the fabric of society.  A lot of researchers, business analysts, and bloggers have spent time trying to quantify the benefits of a social network and the role that such networks play in our lives.  The Casey Foundation, a non-profit that helps disadvantaged children, authored a study on the role of social networks in strengthening families and transforming communities.  Academics James Fowler and Nicholas Cristakis wrote a book on the subject entitled Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, and the book was named a must-read for 2010 byGood magazine. (See Fowler’s intriguing interview on “The Colbert Report” here.)

The book’s premise is simple: “Social influence does not end with the people we know.  If we affect our friends, and they affect their friends, then our actions can potentially affect people we have never met…We believe that our connections to other people matter most, and that by linking the study of individuals to the study of groups, the science of social networks can explain a lot about human experience.”

People follow the lead of their social networks.  More often than not, you like the same bands as your friends, wear the same styles, go to the same parties.  But the power of social networks goes deeper than that: not only are you connected to your friends, you are also indirectly connected to all their friends, and so on.  Tapping into these tertiary connections can help you find a new job, a great new band, or even a place to crash for the night in a random city after your flight gets cancelled.

The same thing happens when you host an event – in this case, a charity benefit bar night. First, you share it with a couple of close friends, e-mailing or calling them to make sure they’re coming, and tell them to invite as many friends as they want.  Then you post the event on Facebook, and invite everyone you know.  Well, they’re not all going to come, but when they reply to the event invitation, that shows up in their news feed, where one of their co-workers sees it when he’s surfing Facebook bored at work.  You’ve never met this person, but it turns out she’s a big supporter of your cause, and she comes to your event with a bunch of friends and a fat donation check.  The power of social networks, jumpstarted by the Web, is key to exposing your event to its full potential.

FanFueled understands the power of sharing and the value of social networks to publicizing events.  We’re the first online ticketing service to reward fans for sharing events, because we recognize that fans’ shared interests and social ties, not street team flyers or newspaper listings, are the best way to bring like-minded people together for a successful event.  Our rewards model follows this logic – we pay for referrals along several “degrees of separation.” It’s possible (and easy) to earn rewards from tickets bought by someone you don’t even know when you share your unique referral link, your friends buy tickets from it, and then they share too.  That’s the power of social networks, and the heart of what FanFueled stands for.

FanFueled in the Press: The Ticket Service That Pays You Back

11 Nov

The word is out about FanFueled, and people are taking notice.  The Chicago Reader’s Miles Rayner spoke last week with FanFueled CEO and founder Anderson Bell about FanFueled’s vision for an evolved, socially-driven approach to the ticketing industry.  The article came out today – give it a read here. Here’s an excerpt:

FanFueled determines its fees according to a transparent system: $1.49 for tickets under $25, $2.49 for tickets more than $25 but less than $100, and so on up to a maximum of $4.49 for tickets that cost more than $200. (The service is free to organizers of free ticketed events.) If you’ve bought a ticket lately through Ticketmaster or any of its affiliates, like Live Nation or TicketWeb, the first thing that will strike you about these numbers is that they’re small. Ticketmaster tacks a $12.15 service fee onto a $149.50 Sade ticket, for instance; FanFueled would charge $3.49. Tickets to Atreyu’s House of Blues date next week have a face value of $23, but Live Nation adds a $2 facility charge and a $9.05 convenience fee—which compares pretty unfavorably with the $1.49 FanFueled would charge.

Rayner’s comparison is clear: for music fans on a budget (and who isn’t these days?), the extreme service fees that the established ticketing giants charge can be a dealbreaker.  And even if you’re willing to shell out, that extra money is cash you’re not going to spend on a CD or t-shirt at the show, depriving the bands of a serious chunk of their revenue. (According to a 2004 Rolling Stone article, merchandise sales are the biggest income source for bands both large and small.)  The FanFueled model is good for everyone – well, except for Ticketmaster.  It saves the fans money, it decreases the cost of marketing and promoting shows for event organizers, and it puts a bigger share of the wealth in the hands of artists.

Today’s News: Is OpenTable hurting restaurants?

25 Oct

Since it was founded in 1998, OpenTable has become the dominant player for restaurants that want to offer online reservation services.  Over 14,000 eateries have received a combined 160 million diners using the Web site, and they bill themselves as a reservation solution that helps match diners with restaurants, benefiting both.  But the truth may be darker – is OpenTable bad for business?   Anthony Todd writes in Chicagoist:

Opentable remains free to you, and offers all those neat features, by charging restaurants high fees. They quoted one owner as saying that, “OpenTable is out for itself, the worst business partner I have ever worked with in all my years in restaurants.”These days, being on OpenTable can be a big part of a restaurant’s success. The company is valued at 1.5 billion dollars, and the convenience of their system has led many restaurants to feel that OpenTable is indispensable. But, consider the cost.

Many restaurants (assuming they are profitable at all) operate on a 5% profit margin. Last night I went out to a lovely dinner in River North. I spent around $60, and had made a reservation on OpenTable. My dinner made the restaurant approximately $3 in profit, and it may have cost them significantly more than that to honor my online reservation. But restaurants are scared to pull out, because diners will have a harder time finding them online. Let’s not even consider the fact that I also used a groupon – It’s kind of amazing they didn’t attack me. It’s even worse if you had planned on visiting the restaurant anyway without a reservation. In exchange for your 100 bonus points, you just handed OpenTable the restaurant’s entire profit from your meal.

As Todd says, OpenTable offers a great service for restaurants, increasing their visibility on the Web and helping diners find a place to eat that is convenient, interesting, and within their budget rather than having to browse around a bunch of different pages.  Their computerized guest book system simplifies the reservation process, but is it really worth it in  the low-margin restaurant business?  And with the rise of sites like Yahoo’s Yelp! and AOL’s Patch, which offer restaurants and small businesses the ability to create their own pages free of charge, is OpenTable’s one-sided business model really sustainable?

The music business is very similar (a $10 fee for a $60 meal is a Ticketmaster-sized cut of the money), but with one big difference: whereas OpenTable takes its fee from the restaurant, ticketing agencies take their cut directly from the fans.  We think that’s ridiculous – without the support and enthusiasm of the fans, there’s no show at all.  That’s where FanFueled comes in – our ticketing solutions are powered by sharing, decreasing marketing costs for artists and venues and passing those savings on to the fans.  Setting up an event on FanFueled is free, and our service fees, among the lowest in the industry, are used to reward fans for spreading the word about your event.  Find out how FanFueled can help fuel your event’s success at FanFueled.com.

Welcome to FanFueled

13 Sep

This is an exciting time for us here at FanFueled.  Our new Web site is live, and we’re ready to take on the big ticketing giants on behalf of the fans.  We’ve been blogging all summer on the live music business and the changing landscape of event marketing, but now we’d like to share what we do and how our ticketing software platform can help your events succeed.

What is FanFueled?

FanFueled is a holistic marketing and ticketing solution for the live event industry. It was developed to provide value for all stakeholders, including event organizers, venues, artists and – most importantly – the Fans.

FanFueled exists because the ticketing services industry is based on a linear Corporate Conglomerate model that ignores the truth of today’s economy: that the people are in control. The balance of power has shifted to the fans; they are publishing, broadcasting, rating, and “liking” to an extent that is influencing the greater masses.  Like our name suggests, FanFueled embraces this truth by recognizing and rewarding the fans for being the fuel behind an event’s success.

Without the fans there is no experience, and we are a company run and inspired by fans. We know what it means to attend an event: it means sharing a memory, an event, a bond, an experience.  With that in mind, FanFueled exists as a partner to the fans, sharing service fees with the fans who spread the word. The more you share, the more we share with you. Why? Because we’re inspired by fans, we are fans ourselves, and we know that without fans spreading the word, no event would be successful.

How does it work?

It’s simple, really, and is designed to reward you for sharing the events you’re already attending: Half of our service fees go into a pool of money that is used to reward the fans for fueling the success of each event.  The rewards you earn are based on the “ripple effect” you create when you share events through social media.  For example, if you buy a ticket to your favorite band’s show, and three of your friends see it and purchase from your link, you earn a commission for each of those three people.  If one of them shares to four more friends, you earn four more rewards, and so on. The monetary value of each referral depends on the event’s ticket price, and the number of “degrees of separation” available for commission.  As you earn rewards, you can apply the money you’ve earned to your next ticket order, donate it to charity or cash out at any time using PayPal (once your account reaches $10).

What’s next?

As we roll out our software, keep checking here and at FanFueled.com for updates on the latest features, special offers, and chances to contribute your feedback.  In the next post, we’ll look at some of the exciting new features available through FanFueled, and show you how we can help you fuel your events for success.

Arcade Fire Unstaged

3 Aug

A few weeks ago I wrote about a new idea some companies had to offer streaming HD video feeds of concerts for fans at home.  This week, American Express and the Arcade Fire (an awesome band, check out their new album ” The Suburbs” which dropped today) are streaming the second show from their two-night run at Madison Square Garden free on Youtube.

Arcade Fire has been embracing social media and using the Web to reach its fans for years, but for this tour they’re taking things to the next level.  Live-stream concert viewers can “Tweet the Band” to ask questions for the band to answer during a pre-show Q&A.  In addition, Amex is supporting “Digital Happenings,” where artists will collaborate with the online audience.  For this show, that means fans will have the opportunity to submit photos of their suburbs, which will be projected on stage during a song from “The Suburbs.”

Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) is directing the show, but viewers can choose between the director’s stream and a second camera that captures alternative vantage points, such as backstage or the balcony.   This is the first of five concerts in the American Express Unstaged series – future shows include John Legend and The Roots.

The show’s this Thursday, August 5, at 10 pm.  Check it out at www.youtube.com/arcadefirevevo.  If this is popular, it could signal a shift in priorities for the live music industry, which has struggled this summer due to higher ticket prices and fans reluctant to spend in a tough economic climate.

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Brand or Band?

28 Jul

This is from back in April, but I saw this article on the Wall Street Journal site today and found it so interesting that I had to write something about it. Here’s the story:

Basically, it’s a profile of the Black Eyed Peas, the band that holds the most downloaded song of all time on iTunes (as well as third place on the same list).  Here are some highlights:

For the musician, wooing potential corporate partners has become as integral to his job as the DJ sets he does on tour at after-parties sponsored by Bacardi. Often will.i.am pitches the concepts himself using “decks” that sum up the Peas’ package, frequently in PowerPoint form.

“I consider us a brand. A brand always has stylized decks, from colors to fonts. Here’s our demographic. Here’s the reach. Here’s the potential. Here’s how the consumer will benefit from the collaboration.”

If will.i.am wasn’t in music, “He’d be the best ad executive on Madison Avenue,” says Randy Phillips, president and CEO of the concert promoter AEG Live. “I’ve never seen anyone more astute at dealing with sponsors’ and companies’ needs and understanding their brands.” He says he’s planning to have the rapper deliver a seminar to AEG’s global marketing team.

They’re a brand, and they know it.  In the past, this would make them seem to be sellouts, diluting the intimate musical relationship between bands and their fans to make a quick buck.  Not so today, the Journal says:

Once, when pop music was synonymous with rebellion, a band getting into bed with a large corporation was as improbable as a Brooks Brothers suit at Woodstock. For companies, too risky; for fans, a betrayal.

This changed when advertisers began to leverage elements of the counterculture, which was no longer threatening. First they targeted baby boomers, from the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” for Microsoft to John Mellencamp’s Chevy commercial. Cries of “sellout” diminished. As CD sales and the marketing surrounding it began to fall into a bottomless pit, younger bands rushed to find other sources of income and publicity. The Peas were among the fastest learners of the industry’s new math.”

Finally:

Last fall, the [Blackberry manufacturer Research in Motion] struck a marketing deal with will.i.am’s Dipdive site, but was reluctant to sponsor a tour, according to Peas co-manager Mr. Derella. He says the band eventually scored the sponsorship in large part by presenting ideas such as the nightly freestyle rap, [where fans use Blackberry Messaging to send messages to the band, which scroll across the stage while will.i.am riffs on them, freestyle] and a moment when will.i.am works variations of the company’s tag line, “Love what you do,” into a seemingly spontaneous monologue during one of the show’s closing numbers, “Where Is the Love.” Such gambits allowed the Peas to get away without putting any BlackBerry banners on the stage.

Of course few of these deals would have come about if the Peas didn’t have a flow of accessible hits to support them. The recent single “I Gotta Feeling,” with its refrain “tonight’s gonna be a good night,” has already become a staple of wedding DJs, sports stadiums and YouTube videos. “I’d pay any amount of money for that song,” says Marty Bandier, chairman and CEO of music publishing company Sony/ATV. An especially nice touch, Mr. Bandier says: the line “Fill up my cup, mazel tov,” which makes the song an instant anthem for bar and bat mitzvahs.

Now, I used to hate the Black Eyed Peas, for exactly this reason.  The “Bar Mitzvah Song” seems on first listen (or twentieth, since it’s on the Top 40 stations at least once an hour), to be a mindless 4-minute blend of disco-karaoke-Journey, and it is.  It’s also a hugely successful song, the pinnacle of pop in today’s diluted, unoriginal music scene. As much as their music is formulaic and unimaginative, their creative genius shows through in their success.  It’s even harder selling a bad product than a good one, and the Black Eyed Peas are the best.  So, instead of hating them, respect them for what they’re doing, lament the people who are dumb enough to fall for it, and then go listen to something better. (Like the new Major Lazer album, which is awesome.  Download it for free here.)

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Fed up? Reddit takes on Ticketmaster

13 Jul

Earlier this week, Reddit users started a grassroots campaign to try and convince Google to create a ticketing alternative to Ticketmaster. Basically, they’ve had enough of the poor customer service, exorbitant “convenience” fees, and disingenuous resales from Ticketmaster, and harnessed the power of social media to make themselves heard. The plan was simple: by searching the keyword “G-Ticket Google’s Alternative to Ticketmaster” over and over, they’re trying to send a signal to Google to give them an alternative ticketing solution.

The stunt quickly gained attention (one tech blog in the Philippines didn’t get the joke, and ran a story titled “Google is set for a new plan: G Ticket to take on Ticketmaster”), drawing notice on Billboard and throughout the blogosphere. By Friday morning, the phrase was the No. 11 most searched keyword on Google.

A lot of the Reddit commenters pointed out that there are some hiccups in the plan, namely the long-term contracts that Ticketmaster has with major artists and venues. Still, the huge popularity of this groundswell campaign shows that people are done putting up with the giant monopoly in ticket sales. Google may be monopolizing the Internet, but I’d rather have a company who’s motto is “Do No Evil” selling concert tickets than one that charges an extra $2.50 to print my own tickets, using my own ink and paper.

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