Remember the “Good Old Days” of the Live Entertainment Business?

You should remember them, because they’re now! That’s right, we’re living in a Golden Age of live entertainment, and 2019 looks like an excellent environment for our industry. Let’s break that down: Consumer confidence is high, people have fewer distractions with new tech gadgets than they’ve had in a while, and we’re seeing record interest in concerts, Broadway and sports tickets. We’re very much living in the Experience Economy that was first written about all the way back in 1998. It was the future then, but it’s the present now.

And hey, guess what? That’s good for all of us in the live entertainment industry.

That’s why I want you to think about 2019 like a soap box derby race. It’s fast, it’s downhill, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. As Bart Simpson said as he sat at the controls of Lil Lightnin’, “Gravity is your co-pilot.” That’s a good thing, but it’s not all you need. There are a lot of ways to crash and burn on a track like this. Here are three that have been on my mind:

Being boring or safe. 
This is the equivalent of losing a wheel. You’re not going anywhere. The content that’s on stage is its own best marketing. I’m not just talking about good word of mouth here. What I’m talking about is what you might call the “curb appeal” of the event. How fun/enticing/unmissable/sexy/engaging does it appear? Of course, you have to have the actual quality to back it up, but several times in 2018 alone, I could name several events (but I won’t) that never got a chance to get much word of mouth because of the title or the event art! Call me superficial, but I’m just telling you what I saw. Potential ticket buyers “thin slice” what they see about your event. Can you blame them? When that first impression comes back as potentially dull or unremarkable, it’s hard to recover!

There’s no “experience” in the experience.
You crashed into a hay bale on the side of the track. Progress comes to a complete stop. The event-going process isn’t just a delivery vehicle for a show or performance. It’s a personal trip that has to be about the customer from his or her own point of view. This trend has been a long time coming, but it’s been accelerated by the smartphone, because the smartphone allows people to create and share “artifacts” of what they’ve done. This may seem obvious, but it’s the reason that, no kidding, Goldstar is selling 1,000 tickets a day or more to an event that’s all about a personal experience and pictures. Of course, not every event has to be so much about Instagram, nor should it be, but every event should work toward giving people a whole experience that is specifically their own. It’s where the culture’s going, and now’s the time to join in.

Talking to a general audience. 
You just steered off the track and out of the race. Earlier this year, Goldstar launched a new version of our Artificial Intelligence engine that we call Matchmaker. What it enables us to do is dig deeper into the catalog of events for sale on Goldstar and match those events better to individual people that are going to like them. In our case, it’s done with very hard math and a lot of LaCroix and pizza for our programmers, because our job is to figure out how to sell thousands of events to millions of people.

For those of you on the show production side, it’s different. You’ve got fewer events to sell. Your challenge is to find the people who are naturally tuned into what you’ve got going on, even if they’ve never heard of you. Say something they’ll recognize as being addressed to them. Jimmy Buffett is a genius at this, as evidenced by the fact that the song “Margaritaville” never went higher than 8 on the U.S. charts, but you can go to a resort (and restaurants and buy cookbooks and a million other things) named for it. He’s talking to his people. Sometimes I see ads for events saying something so broad and obtuse that I feel like De Niro in Taxi Driver: “You talkin’ to me?”

So yeah, we’re on a roll! These are three of my thoughts on how to STAY on that roll. If you’ve got more, share them with me on Twitter and we’ll keep the list going!

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