Over the past decade, large national concert promoters like Live Nation and AEG have been acquiring venues and music festivals an increasing pace. But this year, they’re moving downmarket to acquire smaller and medium-sized venues and promoters in local markets. This has a direct impact on the ability for independent promoters, venues, and festivals to book top-line artists.
“The big companies can buy an artist’s whole tour, The biggest way for independents to compete is with more collaboration between independents. You’ve got to find informal or formal ways for promoters to work together and buy talent together between markets.”
“The more innovative, independent festival promoters rely on developing an experience, rather than on booking top-tier talent. “They’re investing more in the aesthetic, the atmosphere, and the actual culture of an event. And the consumer is looking to for smaller, more boutique festival experiences.”
Across the board, “talent costs have escalated, As a result many promoters have focused on bringing in lesser-known talent to round out their festival lineup.
“We’ve worked harder on the undercard in addition to the headline acts, “We’re adjusting our format to have a greater diversity in talent and a broader appeal to an audience.”
The emphasis has shifted to booking relatively new talent. “More managers and agents are going after artists that have one extremely successful streaming song,” Barleen says. “As promoters, we can, too.”
But new talent brings new fans — and those fans don’t always behave in familiar ways. Many promoters have noticed an increase in one-time visitors and no-shows, making it difficult for venues to build a sustainable, loyal fanbase.
According to Kevin Arnold, founder of Noise Pop Industries, the shifting fanbase has had unforeseen operational impacts.
“One change we’re noticing is a propensity for people to buy tickets at the last minute,” Arnold says. “And while shows are selling out, we’re also beginning to get a lot of no-shows. In a sold-out 500-seat room, we can have up to 100 ticket buyers not showing up. That definitely impacts the feel of the room, and denies the chance for fans who wanted tickets to come to the show.”
Regardless of which artists you book, a sustainable audience base is key to your business’s survival. To bring one-time fans back, lean into marketing strategies that target previous attendees, and experiment with strategies to make sure buyers will actually show up.
For instance, Noise Pop is starting to look at releasing additional tickets online to fans on the night of sold-out shows. You can also use a fan-to-fan ticket exchange like Lyte to let ticket holders of sold out shows know that if they are no longer planning on attending, they can sell their ticket to someone who will.