Who LiveNation Should Acquire Next
LiveNation has made some impressive moves lately. First, it bought BigChampagne and brought on its founder Eric Garland. Then, it hired Ethan Kaplan to come on and run the Product division. I know both of these execs and have a ton of respect with what they've accomplished and their vision for the industry. I think LiveNation is extremely smart to bring them in.
LiveNation (especially with its Ticketmaster piece) has a history of consumer unfriendliness and little noticeable innovation. In fact, you could argue that with all the ticketing platforms (Ticketmaster, Ticketfly, Eventbrite, Topspin), they've innovated the least. Sure, they added a Facebook seat map, but besides that, it's been pretty quiet. But now they're starting to make some moves, and one might ask, what next?
LiveNationLabs, the company's internal incubator which Eric and Ethan are heading up, is a good start. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of exciting things coming out of it. But what else could LiveNation do to shake things up a bit?
If I were them, I'd keep acquiring. Now to be clear, I don't think any of these companies are actually for sale. Most have raised enough money that would make them very expensive for LiveNation. And some might not sell to LiveNation regardless. Either way, this is who I'd be looking at if I were LiveNation:
- FanBridge – FanBridge has built a cross platform fan management software that has touched over 350 million fans. They're growing like crazy and have a solid team of people who know what they're doing. They clearly get fan communication and LiveNation should acquire them to learn more about building communication channels with music consumers.
- Topspin – Topspin's CEO, Ian Rogers, is one of the best people I know in the business. I'm not alone with that feeling. He's a solid leader who has build an amazing team around a huge product vision. Any company would be lucky to have him and his management team a part of their organization. LiveNation acquired MusicToday many years ago. Well, Topspin is the digital era's MusicToday, except they're just getting started. If LiveNation were to acquire them, they'd be able to layer a whole new set of data on top of what they just acquired with BigChampagne.
- RootMusic – RootMusic launched a little music app for Facebook two years ago and since then has completely taken over music on Facebook. They have everyone using their app and have kept a very lean and effective team. They would be extremely expensive, but would provide a massive network for LiveNation to take advantage of. Plus, there is no better company who understands the intersection of music and Facebook.
- Songkick – This one is obvious. Songkick has built the go-to database for live music events on the web. They've done a phenomenal job taking what was a commodity and showing how you can leverage it in a smart, accessible way to help hundreds of other sites leverage their community (many top tier websites, including YouTube and Foursquare, use Songkick's Concert API). Because a massive syndicate network, LiveNation would be acquiring talent who could help them understand how to make data accessible in a smart and efficient way.
- Bandcamp – Although I love Topspin, I believe that to this point, Bandcamp has executed their direct-to-fan product more effectively. It's extremely simple to use and has been for the beginning. It's very focused on solving a specific set of problems, and best of all, users absolutely love it. They have an amazing community and an extremely talented product team, which LiveNation could use to draw insights into selling direct to fans, regardless if it's digital music or tickets.
- Sonicbids – Immediate disclosure: I'm a shareholder. Sonicbids has been the industry leader helping musicians connect with promoters for over 10 years. They know what they're doing and could be a perfect funnel for LiveNation to understand who the bands they should be focusing on next. They also have tools to enable LiveNation to actually attract those bands early and get them into LiveNation venues to start building a relationship early.
There are more, but I think LiveNation should be keeping an eye on these six initially. Would love to hear about other suggestions in the comments!