How we sold 1,000 virtual tickets at BLÅ

May 7, 2020

Guest blog by Ask Frederik Berg and Simen Herning, ACT Entertainment

On Saturday April 25th we delivered our first full scale streaming concert with No. 4 at BLÅ, via TicketCo TV. Prior to this we did some sporadic streaming experiments via Facebook and Twitch, and we have also done some guest appearances at conferences and digital festivals. This has given us some experience that might be useful for others who are planning to do live streams and virtual concerts, which we we will share here.

Background

When the COVID-19 crisis hit us in March and live streamed concerts suddenly became more common place, we decided to give it a try. Initially we took the opportunity to see what other companies and artists did, which we reflected on and then moved forward with what we considered to be the best user experiences and digital set-ups.

Our conclusion was that free live streams was a great way to reach a wider audience, especially for unknown artists, but three specific matters meant we decided not to use a free model for our own event.

  1. We wanted our audience to stay with us for the whole concert. By offering a paid entry our experience found that the audience valued the streaming higher.
  2. The ticketed model gave us a safer economical predictability, and made it possible to scale the production according to the interest and sales prior to the event.
  3. We discovered that the audience willingly donated during free live streams with artists they appreciated, but we did not want this element of charity attached to an event and a product that we normally would have charged for.

We soon realised that No. 4 would be a suitable act for us to enter the world of live streamed events with. The band’s sound and narrative is adaptable to a screened format, and its energy and presence is not as vulnerable when it comes to the format’s limitations as for instance a rap concert. Besides this, the band have a very bright, engaged and listening fan base who often attend concerts and are interested in culture. (In fact, it is 292 % more likely that you are working within arts, entertainment, sports or media if you are a fan of No. 4 at Facebook than if you’re not).


Photo: Jonathan Vivaas Kise

Having analysed the band’s fan base and relevant prices in the market, we decided to charge £16 for the virtual tickets. This is approximately half the normal ticket price, but also twice the price of a regular virtual ticket at that time. We also made it possible for fans to buy a group ticket for £28 in case people planned to watch the concert along with their family at their TV. These two tickets were identical for all practical matters, but this offer made it possible for their fans to support the band by paying more than required.

We then needed the right venue for the event, and we chose the Oslo venue Blå. It already had an established a video infrastructure, and in partnership with TicketCo they offered a fixed setup for sale and distribution of virtual concerts. Except from some test events and free live streamed concerts, this was Blå‘s first proper event via TicketCo TV.

No.4’s agent, Lasse Kinden Endresen, was eager to partner with an actual venue for the event. “We collaborate with venues and festivals constantly and therefore have an obligation to include them in times like these. For us at ACT it was nice to witness how several of the venues adapted to the COVID-19 crisis and generated new revenue streams and possibilities for artists,” he said.

Marketing

We created the Facebook event two weeks before the concert, and we soon registered a lot of engagement. Within a few hours more than 3,000 people had notified their interest, and the ads we ran generated hundreds of new followers each day for a spend of less than 10p per person. To secure outreach towards the entire active fan base we ran ads towards everyone within Norway who had shown interest for a No. 4 event during the past 365 days, and also a look-alike audience of 2% of the entire population. This way we created a set of data which was constantly improved along with the response rate. At the most we reached an audience of 118,300 unique users, and our event got 7,900 replies clicking on either “interested” or “attending”.

Conversions

Unlike regular concerts where there is a limited amount of tickets on sale due to the capacity, we had no good reason to ask the audience to buy in advance. Our fear was that we would lose potential sales either because people would forget all about the concert, or due to technical issues that might occur when 8,000 unique users are trying to purchase at the same time, ten minutes before showtime.

To avoid such issues we devised a strategy on how to convert as many people as possible from interested to actual ticket buyers prior to the event. We did this by:

  1. Telling the audience that ticket sales made it possible to pay musicians and technicians engaged in the concert.
  2. We issued a promo code to everyone who purchased before a specific date, offering a 30% discount in the bands web-shop during the week of the event.
  3. We ran an increased number of call-to-action ads in the last few days before the concert, with gentle reminders to buy a ticket.
  4. Fear of missing out. During the sound check and camera tests we ran frequent updates on social media. Our wish was to establish an impression of an event that was not to be missed. Instagram in particular proved to be efficient for this purpose, and we saw a very high engagement on the day of the event.

Up-selling

Through TicketCo’s up-selling feature we released the band’s new songbook as a possible up-selling item for virtual ticket buyers. They were offered a 20% discount and free shipping, and 33 ticket buyers (equal to 3%) accepted this offer during their buyer journey. All in all the virtual concert generated 72 unique purchases that was not tickets (7%). Compared to the band’s regular merch sales, this is 2% above the average at their physical concerts. This proves that it may be profitable to add the artists’ web shop to their virtual ticket sales.

The end result

We ended up with total sales of 1,013 virtual tickets. 30% of these was sold prior to the day of the event, and 22% of the tickets were group tickets. About 13% of those who confirmed that they would attend at Facebook ended up as actual ticket buyers. In total the band sold £20,814 worth of tickets and merch.

The feedback from the audience tells us this was a product that was attractive, and it was worth being charged for. Except for a few fans who had log-in trouble, everyone managed to log in and to watch the concert without any issues. After the gig the band did a unplanned encore via Instagram Live. We will continue to cross formats and platforms like this in the future.

Things to develop further

  • £20,814 is less than a normal concert revenue for this band. How often is it possible to do live streams to compensate for this?
  • The audience interest was high, but the conversion rate from Facebook attendee to ticket buyer was only 13%. At their latest physical concert it was 68%. What is the right strategy to generate a higher sale? Maybe offer stream-on-demand (VOD) as an extra value?
  • The social aspect is important for a lot of ticket buyers. How can we get the most dedicated fans to encourage their friends to join virtual concerts? Maybe discounted tickets if they are able to recruit a friend?

The team

No. 4: Emilie Christensen, Ingeborg Marie Mohn, Julia Witek
Blå: Stefan Jansen
Agent: Lasse Kinden Endresen
PR/Marketing: Ask Frederik Berg
Management: Simen Herning
Sound: Sonic City, Einar Norberg
Light/director: Upstage, Jesper Herning
Picture: Reel Media Nordic, Eirik Thommessen
Photo: Jonathan Vivaas Kise

This article was originally published on ACT Entertainment’s blog.