Streaming + ticketing + data: A new frontier for the music industry

The following MBW blog comes from Sammy Andrews (pictured), Head of Digital at Cooking Vinyl – an independent music group whose roster includes The Prodigy, Billy Bragg and Marilyn Manson.

Music industry… we are entering a new phase of the streaming economy – finally joining the dots between recorded music data and live.

It’s a subject that’s gone predominantly unspoken in our business until late but it’s one that’s going have huge implications for all of us and one we should all be talking about and engaging with.

Streaming is finally entering the ticketing realm and linking with live.

Pandora buying Ticketfly; Spotify sending dedicated mailers to top listeners (predominantly so far offering live promotions); Amazon Local. Something big is happening.

Why is this so important?

It signals the next phase in implementing and encouraging new revenue streams and insights for artists from data to provide an incredible value add to both fans and artists…. if it’s done right.

“Streaming is finally entering the ticketing realm and linking with live.”

For some time now I’ve been publicly calling on streaming services to allow artists and labels access to listening data for relevant promotional news and live date announcements.


Because along with any monetary value the new streaming economy brings from recorded music, what for me is equally as valuable – and for artists potentially more important – is the plethora of data it generates… and the potential to use that data to encourage long lasting, meaningful relationships with listeners.

It’s something we are, much to my frustration, only just scratching the surface of right now.

This incredible wealth of data not only allows us to identify fans, get to know who they are, where they live, what music they like and what music they don’t like (with skipped song tracking etc).

It also allows us to utilize data to drive meaningful relationships spanning all sectors and revenue streams including recorded music, live and merch. Nurturing the very life blood of artists careers – their relationship with their fanbase.

During a panel with Spotify’s Will Hope at The Great Escape in the UK earlier this year I called on Spotify to allow artists to in some way access their listeners’ data.

I have forever failed to understand why if someone has listened to my artists album several times they should not be notified when new music is released or the have live date announcements.

At the time it was greeted with a pretty firm no, citing amongst other things absolutely legitimate data privacy issues. But… roll on a few months and I received a direct email ticket offer from Spotify on behalf of The Foo Fighters for being a top listener.

This is clearly a trial testing phase for Spotify; they’ve been pretty quiet about its roll out and it still remains unclear how they are identifying ‘top listeners’. (If I had to hazard a guess I think we’re probably looking at people who listen to the same artist several times a week/month and maybe the same song several times a day, amongst other things.)

“If fans have a chance to access ‘exclusive’ promotions, it could help the conversion from freemium to premium.”

These promotions can also clearly and effectively be geo-targeted (the mailer I received was a UK-based promotion to win tickets to Milton Keynes show)

The potential here is fucking huge… for all of us.

Beyond the incredible potential for directly connecting with fans who are clearly likely to want to see certain bands live, something that really strikes me about this route is the incentive-based nature of the promotion Spotify are testing right now.

If we are about to see streaming services offering exclusive deals to ‘top listeners’ that could very well drive streams in the process. And as people want to have a chance of access these ‘exclusive’ promotions, it could also help the conversion from freemium to premium if it’s locked to that tier.

It also appears that in these initial testing phases on Spotify artists that are using an email sign up mechanic for lottery-based competitions are allowed to keep the data. That alone is a massive development.

Bands may very well finally have a way to directly reach out to their most engaged listeners, collect data, up-sell tickets, news and merch. This also rather cleverly avoids data privacy issues by allowing users to opt in after relevant promotional emails have been sent.

Take a bow, team Spotify.

I’m confident we’ll see similar initiatives from the likes of Pandora along with direct sales from their ticketing platform (which will also undoubtedly also be a nice earner for the service and any others that join them in owning ticketing platforms going forward).

Will Spotify follow suit and buy its own ticketing service or partner fully with pre-existing services? I’d say it’s almost certain and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already in discussion waiting to launch.

Let’s not forget that we can see can see things like Songkick integration in many services already….and Pandora promoting the Rolling Stones tour… selling over 50k tickets in 24 hours….

Make no mistake, this is a sign of things to come.

Ticketing platforms owned by streaming platforms could also have a serious impact on the current domination of a couple of ticketing giants and promoters.

The power to interact directly with an artist’s biggest fans about ticketing, especially pre-sales, is certainly to the streaming services’ advantage and something that could really disrupt the current market and (arguable) monopolies.

“The power to interact directly with an artist’s biggest fans about ticketing is to the streaming services’ advantage.”

We have a collective responsibility to help nurture relationships between artists and fan bases in all sectors.I’ve had some fairly shitty conversations with agents and promoters over the years about accessing or utilising ticketing buyer data to help promote albums. To everyone’s detriment.

It’s an annoying legacy of years gone by, with some of the old guard not being able to see the wood for their overplanted trees and shrubberies.

That’s something that’s changing to some degree but it’s always infuriated me that there hasn’t been a simplified process to reach out to current and past ticket buyers with new music. (I’m not talking about paid promotions like Bands In Town et al; I’m talking straight up ticket buyers)

The global festival headline scene is getting pretty stale and that’s the industry’s fault, not the artists. There are hundreds, if not thousands of incredible artists waiting to pick up the headliners mantle but they can’t if we as an industry don’t collectively support and nurture them to get there . I have a profound belief that using streaming data to help artists live careers thrive will in turn help us generate the next generation of headline and ‘legacy’ artists.

This may all also be just the mechanic that anti streaming artists need to get on board fully… it’ll be interesting to see how the artist community reacts to the move.

If we don’t use listening data to fuel live and vice versa where are our next headliners coming from? As much as I love Metallica and Maiden I sincerely hope they won’t be rolled out as headliners at every rock festival, ever, globally for the rest of time.

Something else I wonder if we’ll see: Spotify, Pandora and Apple-owned festivals. Not just the one-night headliners we see now or endorsements, proper curated, multiple day events.

(Here’s the thing that hits this idea way out of the park for me: streaming services can actually see the ideal line ups based on listening habits and associated artists. Apply that locally… BOOM! In theory, they could curate the ultimate festivals, right down to avoiding clashes, then sell the tickets.)

“I wonder if we’ll see streaming services purchasing venues.”

Something that remains to be seen is if any streaming services offering ticketing will start stumping up advances and/or exclusives to help support touring bands…

And that leads me on to wonder if we’ll see streaming services purchasing venues.

Something to think about, right? Anyone with any common sense has long tapped into streaming and social geo-data for tour routing.

If we’re throwing ticketing into that mix as well.. would it not surely make sense for the services to start owning some bricks and mortar? We’ll see I guess, but I think it’s food for thought.

And while we’re future-gazing… What of virtual reality?

I’m a big advocate for VR and have been truly stunned at some of the demos I’ve seen this year.

They’ve varied in application but beyond some mind-blowing interactive games, I’ve seen a bunch of great live show examples already. Wanna jump up on stage with a band? See what it looks like from the drummer’s perspective? VR is going to start offering that. I suspect we’ll see the likes of Glastonbury being broadcast for VR headsets very soon…along with major sporting events.

The big streaming players who could potentially also offer ticketing also have facilities for VR live experiences. Apple Music has video. Spotify has video. Youtube already offer 360 video. Facebook is about to have monetised video (and ahem.. owns VR giant Oculus).

With serendipitous timing, something else of note is taking place in ticketing right now: enter newly available .tickets domain names – essentially a walled garden designed to improve the world of ticketing for both the artist and the fan.

Many artists including Adele, U2, and Linkin Park have already snapped up their .tickets real-estate apparently, alongside e-commerce giants like Apple and Amazon (and Pandora!). Between this and potential streaming ticket sales are we about to see established ticketing outlets take a hit on finances and pre sale allocations?

“It’s never been more important to allow artists to tap into this information.”

With all of this swirling around I really feel like we are on the brink of a new age in the music industry, one where the industry finally understands that to survive and thrive we must break the traditional molds, work together, and utilize the incredible wealth of data we are amassing for good purpose to help artists grow and support the entire music industry eco system.

Streaming data being accessed for tours is, I believe, the start to all of this – and something that’s crucial to the success and longevity of artist careers.

It’s never been more important to allow artists to tap into this information. After all, it’s arguably their data in the first place.

Without artists we are nothing… something I wish many people in this industry would remember sometimes.

For too long our industry has been trying to play a new game by old rules.

Let’s embrace all this new chapter together, shall we?Music Business Worldwide

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