For Those About to Rock, We’ll Connect You: The Role of Tech in Live Music Today

By Scott Cutler, President of StubHub
Originally published on LinkedIn, Feb. 10, 2017

It’s 1987, and I’m at my first concert – Billy Idol and The Cult. They’re taking the U.S. by storm on their national tour. Billy is riding high on his new-found American fame, and he takes the stage to power through a few chart-toppers: “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face.” Though this is my first live show, I know that this is it: I’m finally experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime event that I’ll remember forever. The roar and push of the crowd, the feel of the bass, Billy’s fist pumps right there in front of me – I’m invigorated in a way that a vinyl record could never make me feel. I don’t stop smiling for the entire show. In awe of the talent I just witnessed, I think to myself, “Wow – this is one of the most memorable moments of my life.”

I didn’t know it then, but I’d eventually go on to lead a company that empowers other passionate music-lovers worldwide to experience this same feeling – a concert high that only comes with seeing your favorite artist rock a stage. If you had told me in 1987 that 30 years later I’d be watching Lady Gaga take the Super Bowl LI halftime show to new heights – literally – I would have never believed you. It would have sounded almost as outlandish as saying that 300 drones would be flying around Gaga as she performed. But wait… I saw that, too!

Indeed, tech in the live music industry has changed dramatically since that Billy Idol tour back in the ‘80s, and dancing drones at the Super Bowl are just the start. As streaming continues to overtake digital downloads, which long ago replaced physical CDs as our primary format for listening to music, artists will search for ways to find worldwide popularity in an industry that is inundated with new performers on every platform, every day. How can a rising star get into Spotify’s “Discover Weekly,” and will the momentum from that visibility drive concert ticket sales?

As streaming continues to strengthen, the role of mobile and social media in music will only become more important. At StubHub, we got ahead of the mobile trend and made our app a powerful way to tap into technology and surface well-known acts and up-and-comers to millions of customers around the world. We also see social media driving growth in live events because being there live and in person matters.  Being there in person provides social currency which we value and use to define us as unique individuals.  As concert-goers share live video feeds, snap the best moments and broadcast commentary globally, demand for in-person live events will continue to rise.

I also expect that as new and even more sophisticated technologies are applied to everyday uses, AI will secure its place as a technology influence within music. Across other industries, companies are already using smart data to predict consumer behavior. We see this in the recommendations tools on audio streaming services. Next, we’re bound to witness the application of this intelligence in the end-to-end music experience. For example, we’ve started to see AI technology being leveraged for chatbot integrations that provide instant recommendations to consumers who are deciding which live events to attend. And with AI like IBM’s Watson beginning to play a role in song composition, the music industry is sure to see the influence of intelligent tech behind the scenes as well.

I’d argue that the global music scene has been applying futuristic technologies even beyond what we’re generally familiar with in the U.S. For example in South Korea, K-pop stars are performing at their concerts virtually via hologram. These stars reach their super-fans at concerts that, aside from missing the physical presence of the band, are incredibly real: the music is bumping, the venue is packed, and the hologram is life-sized and life-like. While some acts only tour once every few years – don’t get me started on how excited I am about another Guns N’ Roses reunion tour – artists like Jaejoong, G-Dragon, and Psy are hosting concerts every day to thousands of fans who love to see their favorite singer in augmented reality.

At StubHub, we’re advancing all of these technologies – mobile, social, and virtual reality – to provide event-goers with the best possible experience at a live event. From our “virtual view” seat view tool to mobile browse and checkout, our technological advancements have enhanced event discovery, streamlined ticketing, and ultimately heightened all phases of the fan experience.

Tech is only going to continue to grow in significance in today’s digital world. Everyone in the industry is tasked with empowering fans to have seamless access to the once-in-a-lifetime experiences they want to attend. At StubHub, we know that our tech will be there for you before, during, and after the concert: we’ll get you there, elevate your experience, and ensure you’ll never forget it. We see ourselves as the ultimate connection between fans and today’s hottest shows.

This weekend, I’m heading to the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, where Adele is bound to blow the roof off the Staples Center. Tributes to Prince, George Michael, and Leonard Cohen will remind us the great talent we’ve lost, and we’ll see Beyonce astound us as usual. As I watch these performers set the new standard for live music experiences, I’ll be thinking ahead another 30 years to imagine what musical performances will look like then.

And while I don’t think Billy Idol will make an appearance, if he shows up via hologram, you can bet I’ll be cheering louder than anyone else.

StubHub Releases Second Annual Year in Live Events Report: In a Year of Firsts, Lasts and Milestone Events, Consumers Are Spending More Than Ever on Live Event Experiences

SUPER BOWL 50, WORLD SERIES AND HAMILTON BREAK STUBHUB RECORDS

Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant’s Last Games, a Historic World Series, First UFC Fight in New York City and a First-Ever Music Festival of Legacy Acts Mark Milestone Events

DEC. 14, 2016 – SAN FRANCISCOStubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, today revealed its second annual Year In Live Events (YILE) report, which found that consumers, globally, are spending more than ever on live event experiences in a year marked by firsts, lasts and historic milestone events.  The top-10 selling events of the year in the U.S. on StubHub were sports events, led by Super Bowl 50, which outsold last year’s Super Bowl by 7%, and the World Series, which was the highest-selling World Series ever on StubHub.  Adele led all the music acts with the #1-selling tour spot and the runaway Broadway hit, Hamilton: An American Musical, drove at least four times the sales of any other theater production in company history. International NFL games and fútbol matches led as the top five international events with the highest sales from U.S. ticket buyers.

“At StubHub, we are driven by one purpose:  to connect people to inspiring event experiences,” said Scott Cutler, president of StubHub.  “2016 has been a remarkable year, underscored by once-in-a-lifetime events that have demonstrated our customers’ innate desire to make life’s richest memories happen live at sports, concerts and performing arts events.  As these experiences play an increasingly meaningful role in our lives, StubHub is committed to leading in innovation, premium products and partnerships to make access to a life rich in live experiences easier than ever.”

  • According to a survey of international consumers, globally, consumers have increased spend on live events by 8% in the last year.
  • Additional StubHub consumer insights and sales trends show that the event-going experience is becoming increasingly connected by mobile, driven by social connections and an influencer of travel plans.
  • Around the world, StubHub reports that mobile usage to purchase tickets is up, and users who switch from desktop to buying in the StubHub app tend to buy more tickets and spend more money.
  • Regardless of region, buyers are willing to travel more than two hours to a live event of their choice, with buyers in Italy having the highest tendency to travel for events, buyers in the UK spending the most money on international events and Spanish buyers proving to be the most socially oriented, with the highest tendency to buy in advance and attend events in groups.

Across all live events, the past year has been highlighted by milestone and historic events that are unrivaled in years past, including  Super Bowl 50, which was also the last game played by Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant’s final home game, championship appearances for Cleveland in basketball and baseball, UFC taking its first match to New York City, the Cubs’ historic showing and win in the World Series, Desert Trip’s first year, a popular COPA America, and the Broadway phenomenon of Hamilton: An American Musical. A recent third-party survey, commissioned by StubHub, shows that events like these are driving fans’ happiness, with 88% of respondents saying live events make them happy and named their first concert as their best memory over first kiss and first job.

stubhub_infographic_social_05_120916

*List represents top events in the U.S. based on total value of ticket sales on StubHub for each event

(StubHub’s Top 10 Events in 2015: 1. Super Bowl XLIX; 2. World Series Game 3; 3. World Series Game 4; 4. World Series Game 5; 5. Mayweather v Pacquiao; 6. 2015 College Football Championship; 7. World Series Game 2; 8. NHL Stanley Cup Final; 9. New England Patriots v Dallas Cowboys (10/11); 10. 2015 Cotton Bowl College Football Semifinal (Alabama v Michigan State)

Top music events in 2016 were dominated by music festivals with the mainstay festivals – Coachella and Lollapalooza – maintaining their top positions, and newcomer Desert Trip coming in with sales that rivaled both. Artist tours were highlighted by Adele and dominated by nostalgic legacy acts including Springsteen, Billy Joel, Guns N Roses and Pearl Jam, as well as pop including Bieber, Beyoncé, Drake and Coldplay. Luke Bryan was the only country act to break the top-10 tour list; Luke Bryan and Billy Joel are the only acts returning from the top 10 in 2015.

stubhub_infographic_social_04_120716

*List represents top music tours in the U.S. based on total value of ticket sales in the U.S. on StubHub

(StubHub’s Top 10 Tours in 2015: 1. Taylor Swift ; 2. Garth Brooks ; 3. Billy Joel; 4. U2; 5. Ed Sheeran; 6. Luke Bryan; 7. The Grateful Dead; 8. Kenny Chesney; 9. One Direction; 10. Rolling Stones)

 Top Selling International Events*

  1. Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans (Mexico City on 11/22)
  2. Barcelona vs. Atlético de Madrid (Barcelona on 4/5)
  3. Arsenal vs. Chelsea (London on 9/24)
  4. Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (Barcelona on 4/2)
  5. Chelsea vs. Liverpool (London on 9/16)

*List represents the international events with the highest sales generated by U.S. buyers on Ticketbis

The theatre category grew the most in 2016 but the greatest amount of ticket sales were generated in the concert segment of the StubHub business:

stubhub_infographic_social_03_120716

*List generated by total ticket sales across event type in the U.S. on StubHub

2016 Top Growing Genres*

  1. Theater
  2. Music Festivals
  3. Motor Sports
  4. Soccer
  5. Concerts

*List represents most growth in total ticket sales since 2015 across event type in the U.S. on StubHub

2016 YEAR IN LIVE EVENTS HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Kobe’s last game generated nearly 25% of the total sales for the Lakers season and sold twice as many tickets than the NBA Finals game this year.
  • Sales for this year’s World Series were 160% higher the 2015 World Series and were 85% higher than the 2014 World Series (SF Giants v Kansas City Royals), which previously held the lead as the highest sales for a World Series on StubHub.
  • Tickets to the final game of the World Series were purchased by a buyer in every state within the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii) and from 12 different countries.
  • Adele’s highest-selling single-tour date was Sept. 23 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
  • The top-selling, single-day music event overall was for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on March 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
  • Metallica’s Aug. 20 show at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis also outsold Adele’s highest-selling tour date.
  • Luke Bryan was the best deal of the top-10 artists with the lowest average ticket price across his U.S. dates while Adele generated the highest average ticket price, earning her nearly three times the total sales of Luke Bryan but with 16 fewer dates than Bryan.
  • With the fewest number of dates, Pearl Jam had nearly one-fourth the number of dates as Luke Bryan who came in behind the rock group at #10, but the group was able to command nearly twice the average ticket price as Bryan.
  • Coachella remained the biggest music festival and Desert Trip’s arrival generated a comparable level of demand that’s unique for a newcomer festival.

Data provided throughout this release is compiled from StubHub and Ticketbis sales data and consumer buying habits, StubHub consumer insights studies surveys and buying trends from 2015 through 2016, and StubHub international strategic research on consumer behavior.

StubHub Announces Top 10 Fall Concerts: Adele Takes #1 Spot, on Pace to Outsell Taylor Swift’s Fall 2015 Tour and Become #1 Overall Act of 2016

Adele Triples Drake’s Sales, followed by Beyoncé, Maroon 5 and Kanye West, With Country Acts Showing the Strongest Representation; October’s ‘Desert Trip’ Joins Coachella as Top Festival of the Year

12, SEPTEMBER 2016 (SAN FRANCISCO, CA) – StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, today announced the top concerts of the fall season, as determined by sales from its more than 10 million ticket listings per month.

Following her top-selling summer position, Adele continues her dominant year by outselling Drake at #2 and Beyoncé at #3 this fall, putting her on pace to outsell pop diva Taylor Swift’s 2015 fall tour schedule and become the top-selling artist of 2016.*

In addition, the Desert Trip, a two-weekend festival featuring rock legends such as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, proves that legacy artists remain a powerful draw, outselling the next-highest fall festival (Austin City Limits) by more than 5 times (530%) and becoming the #2 overall festival for 2016 behind Coachella.

TOP 10 FALL TOURS*

  1. Adele
  2. Drake
  3. Beyoncé
  4. Maroon 5
  5. Kanye West
  6. Carrie Underwood
  7. Temple of the Dog
  8. Luke Bryan
  9. Florida Georgia Line
  10. Keith Urban

*Based on overall ticket sales on StubHub for shows from Labor Day to Thanksgiving 2016

Fall Music Preview Highlights:

  • Adele is outselling Taylor Swift’s fall 2015 tour dates by 40%, with a similar number of shows and smaller venues
  • Adele is the top seller this fall in terms of both overall sales and sales per show
  • Median ticket prices per genre: POP (Adele, Beyoncé and Maroon 5) – $299; ROCK (Temple of the Dog) – $217; HIP HOP (Drake and Kanye West) – $175; COUNTRY (Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban) – $122
  • Florida Georgia Line has been the best deal of the fall so far, with a ticket selling for $6 to the group’s show at PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte on September 10th, while Drake has commanded the highest price of a ticket with over $3,900 spent on a ticket for the artist’s show at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on September 9th
  • With only five shows in November, Temple of the Dog makes the top 10 with their highly anticipated reunion tour, offering an average ticket price of $217
  • While legacy acts were prevalent on StubHub’s top lists in 2015, Country acts dominate this fall’s list with four of the acts and several falling just past the top 10.