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June 7, 2020

Did that show really sell out?

Golden TicketAnyone who has read a little bit about marketing knows that scarcity drives purchase. Even people who haven’t focussed on it before understand this innately, it’s basic. We all want the last one. We see adverts every day announcing limited supply. In live music we see tours visiting small venues to get a quick sell-out,  countdowns on festival websites until the next tier of ticket prices kick in, the list goes on. Then in preparation for next time, festivals miraculously sell out the day before they happen and venue capacities are reduced at the last minute. All so we can create scarcity – it’s pretty fundamental.

“festivals miraculously sell out the day before they happen and venue capacities are reduced at the last minute”

In the real world venue size limits capacity. Agents work with promoters to choose venues for a number of reasons – but right at the top of the list is choosing a venue that will likely sell out in advance. The agent to a large degree, is the arbiter of choice, a third party who can make those decisions. Ideally distanced from more personal influences the artist may have or those of short term gain the promoter may lean into. It is the agent’s responsibility to take this seriously and direct their artist towards venues more suited to the tour they are booking and their future career path. Frequently this is not the same as maximising short term profit.

So What Is The Problem?

How is this going to play out in the world of live-streamed ticketed shows? Shows where capacity is limitless and tickets can be bought at the last minute. What happens then? Will promoters offer cheap volume deals at the last minute? Will they ratchet prices because you’re late to the party? How is this going to maintain the reputation and scarcity of access to the artist – the very artist whose career the agent is working so hard to improve?

It’s clear to me that there will be short term pressures to increase capacity. Pressures which are in working against the long term benefit of the artist.

Agents spend considerable expense counting ticket sales and feeding that back to managers. They do this so they can react to the market, measure demand, encourage the promotion and inform the next tour. In the digital age, agents will still need to play a role in the same space. Digital shows will still need to apply the same rules of scarcity. The agent will be the one dictating, measuring and enforcing that. In my last blog post, “Becoming The Expert” I discussed how venues will need to train staff and buy the kit to stage and stream events at the same time. Step up Agent – your role is changing as well!

Let me know what you think. Will scarcity become an issue for live-streamed events? Is it an area the artist’s agent can own and offer their expertise?

Midnight Mango on LinkedIn