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 Launches Virtual Reality Feature and Announces 10 Most Popular Events This Summer in Canada

Rogers Centre and Molson Canadian Amphitheatre Are the First Venues to Receive the Virtual Reality Treatment From StubHub; Guns N’ Roses Leads List of Top Events 

StubHub unveiled its new virtual reality product feature in Canada, virtual view, and announced its list of the country’s 10 most popular events for the summer, as dictated by demand on the marketplace’s site. StubHub’s virtual view uses virtual reality technology to allow fans to get a 360-degree view from their section while purchasing tickets to the hottest events of the summer, loaded with Canadian favourites on the baseball field and the stage.

Rogers Centre for Blue Jays games and Molson Canadian Amphitheatre for all concerts will be the first to receive this virtual reality treatment in Canada. Baseball fans and concertgoers will be able to pan around the stadium or amphitheatre, fully immersing themselves in some of the most iconic views in sports and entertainment in Toronto, as they enjoy these hot events this summer and beyond.

Looking at total sales for live events in Canada during the 2016 summer season, StubHub’s list reveals that fans are gravitating to the music stage – particularly for Canadian music acts – more so than the baseball diamond. Canadian men dominate the top 10, with Drake in the #2 spot, The Tragically Hip landing in #3 and #6 for their Toronto and Kingston dates, and Shawn Mendes closing out the list at #10. The list also shows Canadian fans’ strong affinity to nostalgia with legacy acts Paul McCartney and Sting showing a strong presence. Guns N’ Roses proves to be the hottest ticket of the summer, as their one Canadian stop in Toronto takes top spot for the highest sales for a single event, a distinction previously held by Drake in 2015.

The Blue Jays game against the Cleveland Indians on Canada Day is the only baseball game all summer to hit the most popular events. Festivals don’t make the list of top 10, but their demand continues to grow as newer localized festivals like Field Trip, Wayhome, TURF, and Bestival are driving up overall sales for festivals in Canada on StubHub.

TOP EVENTS*

  1. Guns N’ Roses – Rogers Centre – July 16th
  2. Drake – Air Canada Centre – July 31st
  3. The Tragically Hip – Air Canada Centre – August 12th
  4. Adele – Rogers Arena – July 20th
  5. Toronto Blue Jays v. Cleveland Indians – Rogers Centre – July 1st
  6. The Tragically Hip – K-Rock Centre – August 20th
  7. Paul McCartney – FirstOntario Centre – July 21st
  8. Sting – Air Canada Centre – June 29th
  9. Luke Bryan – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre – June 25th
  10. Shawn Mendes – Air Canada Centre – August 21st

*total sales for a single-event in Canada on StubHub from June 17 to Labour Day

Other Summer event season trends spotted by StubHub in Canada:

  • Comparing lead Canadian male singers, Drake’s date outsells Shawn Mendes’ date by 215%
  • Country star Luke Bryan is the best deal with the lowest selling price for a ticket bought on StubHub at $6 and the overall lowest average ticket price at $87
  • Fans can beat the holiday crowd and see the Blue Jays one day earlier than Canada Day for a 47% lower average ticket price
  • Adele may be the only female on the list, coming in at #4, but she commands more per ticket on average than eight of the artists
  • Festivals continue to gain momentum. Osheaga has held the top festival position over the last three years but Shambhala Music Festival takes the spot this year, indicating a strong demand for Electronic Music in Canada

StubHub’s Top Events by Region:

  • Toronto: Guns N’ Roses, Drake, The Tragically Hip, Toronto Blue Jays v. Cleveland Indians, Paul McCartney
  • Calgary: The Tragically Hip, Zac Brown Band, Sting, Bill Maher, Billy Idol
  • Vancouver: Adele, The Tragically Hip, Shambhala Music Festival, Flight of the Conchords, Dixie Chicks
  • Montreal: Sting, Osheaga, Celine Dion, Paul Simon, 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Edmonton: The Tragically Hip, Sting, Chris Cornell, Meat Loaf, Bill Maher
  • Winnipeg: The Tragically Hip, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Chris Cornell, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas

StubHub continues to provide unparalleled and convenient access to live events through its iOS and Android mobile and tablet apps. With the addition of virtual view, fans can see where they’ll be sitting on their phones or tablets before attending their favourite show or baseball game by simply moving their phone. With virtual reality goggles, fans can insert their iOS or Android phone into the viewer and move their head from side-to-side for an even more immersive virtual reality experience. Not only will fans be able to see the most in-demand concerts and baseball games this summer, but they’ll know their sightlines before the big event, helping to make a more informed and personalized ticket selection.

Additionally, StubHub’s app includes personalization tools, recommendation notifications and exclusive partner content to make it easier than ever for fans to discover live events. With iTunes library scanning (on iOS), personalized algorithms to identify team and artist favourites and more, the StubHub app helps ensure fans won’t miss some of their favourite acts, while also providing for the opportunity to discover new acts based on personalized recommendations.

 

StubHub Announces Top 10 Summer Touring Acts of 2016

Adele Tops the List Largely Dominated by Rock Acts, Signaling a Rock Resurgence;Pop Acts and Legacy Acts Dominated in Summer 2015 

StubHub today announced its list of the top 10 touring acts for the summer as dictated by demand on the marketplace’s site.  Adele tops the list, replacing Taylor Swift’s #1 spot in 2015, and rock acts dominate the list, signaling a rock resurgence for the Summer of 2016.

Looking at total sales for live concert events from Memorial Day to Labor Day – the unofficial start and end to the Summer concert season – StubHub’s list sees a significant presence by rock acts on the list of top selling artists as well as the list of artists generating the most sales per individual shows.  With only one show currently scheduled, Metallica tops the list of highest amount of sales per show (as opposed to total sales for shows throughout the summer) followed by fellow rock institutions Pearl Jam and Radiohead in the #2 and #4 spots respectively. Guns N Roses and Coldplay also have a strong presence on both lists.  Metallica’s one summer show in Minneapolis is proving to be the hottest single event of the summer based on sales, a distinction held by Grateful Dead in 2015.

TOP SELLING ACTS*

  1. Adele
  2. Coldplay
  3. Justin Bieber
  4. Drake
  5. Beyoncé
  6. Guns N Roses
  7. Twenty One Pilots
  8. Kenny Chesney
  9. Paul McCartney
  10. Billy Joel

*total sales for all dates on StubHub from Memorial Day to Labor Day

TO SELLING ACTS – PER SHOW**

  1. Metallica
  2. Pearl Jam
  3. Radiohead
  4. Beyoncé
  5. Billy Joel
  6. Paul McCartney
  7. Justin Bieber
  8. Adele
  9. Coldplay
  10. Guns N Roses

**highest average sales per show for dates on StubHub from Memorial Day to Labor Day

Other Summer concert season trends spotted by StubHub:

  • Adele unseats Taylor Swift from the 2015 lead spot and also holds the distinction of having generated the highest sale for a single ticket as well as the highest average price per ticket
  • The only two acts to return to the top selling list from 2015 are Kenny Chesney and Billy Joel, the latter having remained on the list now for three straight years – the longest running position to date, generated largely by his consistent touring and high demand.
  • Beyoncé has sold the lowest single ticket and Twenty One Pilots has the lowest average price for tickets overall
  • With a similar number of shows this summer, Adele is narrowly outselling Coldplay to top the list by approximately 7%. She outsells the #10 ranked artist, Billy Joel, by 153%.
  • On a per show basis, Metallica dominates the list with their one summer show. They currently outsell the next highest performer, Pearl Jam, by 400% and Guns N Roses by 845%
  • While Adele tops the list this summer in total sales, she’s still far behind Taylor Swift’s huge 2015 summer. Swifty’s 2015 summer has outsold Adele’s 2016 by 643%. However, it’s important to note that Swift had almost double the amount of summer shows which led to her historic summer.
  • Music Festivals throughout the Summer continue to remain popular but sales have started to level off and the same festivals continue to lead demand. Lollapalooza maintains its position from 2015 as the highest selling festival on StubHub for the summer.

StubHub continues to provide unparalleled and convenient access to live events through its iOS and Android mobile and tablet apps that feature personalization tools, content partnerships and recommendation notifications to make it easier than ever for fans to easily discover live events. With iTunes library scanning (on iOS), personalized algorithms to identify team and artist favorites and more, the StubHub app helps ensure fans won’t miss some of their favorite acts, while also providing for the opportunity to discover new acts based on personalized recommendations. Yelp and Foursquare integrations and easy-to-use mobile ticketing makes the app even easier to plan a weekend on the go.