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Thrillcall’s Matthew Tomaszewicz: Building Bridges Between Live Music & Tech [INTERVIEW]

Mt_3Matthew Tomaszewicz is the co-founder and head of product marketing and business development at San Francisco-based Thrillcall. Thrillcall is an iOS and web app that packages ticket deals on live shows happening that same night in particular cities, and presents them just in time for people to act – kind of like a GroupOn for live music. Hypebot’s Hisham Dahud spent some time with Matthew in San Francisco and sought out to get his thoughts on the music technology space as it pertains to live music.

In addition to Thrillcall, Matthew is a recognized thought leader in online marketing and strategy, recently working with Quantcast on their go-to-market strategy, leading R&D efforts for the online customer acquisition shop Adteractive, and is a member of the Gerson Lehrman Group Council on Media.

Hisham Dahud: How do you view the current landscape of the live performance as it pertains to both online and offline opportunities. What sorts of growth areas do you see right now?

Matthew Tomaszewicz: Nearly every manager, promoter and venue owner that we've spoken to is pulling their advertising budgets out from offline avenues. What used to be common – the weekly ad placement in the local metro paper – is now firmly being questioned. This is pretty big news because, by and large, live performance marketing and reliance on technology typically lags other sectors. For venues that cater to anyone in a demographic younger than 35, moving marketing dollars online is crucial to reaching their audience.

With regards to online, the two most prominent trends we are seeing is the adoption of mobile devices for everything from communication, media sharing and ticket purchasing to the growth of targeted special offers to create appeal for a show – ones that are even sold-out – to reach a larger audience.

Generally speaking, there is also a business trend to eliminate discounting shows en masse, as it devalues the experience for everyone involved, from the performer to the fan.

Hisham: How is your product, Thrillcall, addressing these growth areas?

Matt: I'm really excited about our product, because it really is a coalescence of a number of the trends in online live performance promotion. More and more concertgoers are waiting to buy tickets as on sales can happen months before someone has theirs.

Our mobile app showcases unique exclusive offers each day in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, with more cities coming shortly. We make the discoverability simple and the buying experience easy. We've recently added more discovery hooks like listening to the artists and soon similar artists, as well as a number of different sharing methods. We are also looking at how to refine our notification process. As consumers receive more mobile notifications, the challenge will be to reduce noise and increase signal strength so that the app is intrinsically valuable to the person with it on their mobile phone.

Hisham: What do you believe the future hold for live performances? What sorts of trends are we seeing now that speak of the bigger picture we are moving towards?

Matt: There are a number of trends happening in live performance. The first is discovering more viable business models that reduce cost of production and travel. This started a few years ago with the explosive growth of electronic music, which not only reduces cost but also creates more flexibility in bookings.

Another growing trend is the use of non-traditional venues to showcase music. More and more performers are in free or paid shows, such as corporate events, makeshift stages in retail stores. It's a win-win for a growing artist because the locale helps promote whereas a venue is expected to have a different act every night and only has a certain amount of promotion dollars to support each show.

I also predict that we are going to see a lot more of branding of concert series and festivals to extend commerce and advertising opportunities beyond the event itself. For example, recently we saw HARD launch the Holy Ship cruise and Coachella has followed suit with a cruise of their own; the SS Coachella debuting in December. In addition, with the curation of festivals and concert series (like the Hotel Cafe tour) we are seeing more of that brand aspect be cultivated on a year round basis.

One thing we haven't seen a lot of yet, but that we can anticipate be a growing trend, is an effort by the live performer to encourage audience participation and social engagement during the show in a soft and non-commercial way.

Hisham: What would you like to see more music technology companies doing in order to help advance the space?

Matt: I think it's really incumbent upon tech companies to offer two things to artists whether they are promoting the live event or promoting their music. Distribution – every musician craves "awareness" – and understanding of what offering works – we'll call that "merchandising."

Too many music tech companies merely offer, let's say, a dashboard, without helping the artist reach a new audience. It was Google's search traffic that drove the adoption of their dashboard, not vice versa. With Facebook, Twitter and more closing the loop, it is imperative for music tech companies to create new audiences, not just rely on typical distribution methods.

Merchandising is just as important and that's perhaps what is needed most. There's just so much choice and so much noise. Really learning what works from both an engagement and activation or transaction perspective is the next frontier. For example, we've learned at Thrillcall that Twitter is great to initiate discussion, but not particularly strong right now in driving activations and transactions. Similarly, we've learned how to take limited availability tickets and use that to boost overall sales.

To learn more about Thrillcall, head to

Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud