How Tech Is Changing Live Music

1While much of the music industry's future remains in doubt, particularly where tech is involved, how advancements in technology will affect venues is a little more predictable. Here we look at four ways in which we can expect the live music experience to change as a result of technological reform.


Guest post by Bill Leigh of Eventbrite

Can you see into the future? When it comes to music venue operations, it’s easier than other areas. Just take a look at music festivals, for example. In terms of technology, some changes take hold at music festivals before being adopted in venues. 

So what does the future hold for music venue operations? Here are four areas where you might consider upgrades to stay ahead of the game.

1. RFID will simplify and speed up entry

What it is: At music festivals, you might have seen people using RFID badges or wristbands to speed through entrances, pay for drinks, or enter VIP areas. Short for Radio Frequency Identification, RFID works by enabling a chip embedded in a badge or wristband to be read by an RFID scanner.

In recent years, RFID has become standard at music festivals and other events, but the technology has been around for decades. Think of hotel card-keys, in-car toll payment devices, and employee security badges. You may have even seen festival goers use a wristband to post updates or photos on social media.

How your venue will use it:

  • Getting fans in quickly. Attendees simply wave their wristband over a scanner. When SnowGlobe Music Festival switched to RFID, they were able to scan in more than 20 people per minute at each gate. This could be the end of lines at your venue.
  • Get insights that improve your operations.You’ll be able to track where fans go, so you can be smarter about staff placement and eliminate bottlenecks.

For more benefits of RFID, download this comprehensive guide to RFID technology.

2. Digital payments will become the norm

2What it is: Cashless payments started with credit and debit cards, and contactless payments like ApplePay and GooglePay have now become ubiquitous. The next step is payments through a badge, wristband, or a smartphone app backed up by a credit card. Four out of five venues we spoke with said paying for drinks or merch with mobile phones would have an impact in coming years.

How your venue will use it:

  • Bar sales. Fans will be able to order drinks and close out their tabs using their smartphones.
  • Box office and merch sales. Lines at the box office and merch tables will speed up thanks to RFID and smartphone payment systems.
  • Comprehensive insights and reporting. You’ll be able to gain insights into your attendees and revenue sources, including who your top spenders are.

3. Selling tickets across social media and apps will be common

What it is: Fans now expect to be able to discover shows and purchase tickets directly on the most popular apps and web sites. Fans first learn about your shows on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, or event discovery apps like SpotifyBandsInTown, and SongKick. From there it’s a seamless process to purchasing tickets, without having to bounce out to another website.

If you aren’t already doing this, you should be. Make sure you have a ticketing partner that works with fan favorite sites and apps

How your venue will use it:

  • Expanding awareness of shows. Increasingly, fans will learn about your shows on social media, in event discovery apps, or wherever they’re spending their time online.
  • Selling more tickets. Giving fans multiple places to buy tickets and making the process simple and seamless has led to double the ticket sales.

4. Data analytics will help you manage spend

What it is: You’ve got data on everything from ticket sales and audience demographics to advertising efficacy. It comes from tracking linksmarketing pixels, Google AnalyticsFacebook Ads ManagerRFID, and your onsite point of sale. Many venues are already relying on this type of data to improve their advertising and ticket sales performance as well as predicting the needs of the audience.

How your venue will use it:

  • To make marketing more powerful. It’s one thing to know how many people saw your ad. It’s another to know how many tickets it sold, or which social media post drove those sales.
  • To streamline venue operations. You can use ticket sales to know how much food and alcohol to stock, and how much staff to schedule, so you can avoid bored or overworked staff.

For more views into the crystal ball, check out 2018 Music Trends: The Top Predictions

Bill Leigh is a writer at Eventbrite, where he focuses on helping create successful live music events. He is also the former Editor-in-Chief of Bass Player magazine. When he’s not working, he splits his time between “dad mode” and “rocker mode.”

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