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New Opportunities in Concert Booking: Eventful Matches Artists and Markets

Posted by Webb on 08/17/2009

By Ken Tucker
© 2009 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.
What started as a way to make sure favorite artists didn't slip by unnoticed has turned into a powerful information tool for fans and artists.

Launched in 2004, San Diego-based Eventful was conceived by founder and Board Chairman Brian Dear, a veteran of eBay and RealNetworks, among other companies. His motivation, according to Jordan Glazier, CEO, Eventful, was that Dear was "fed up" at finding out that events he would have liked to attend had already come and gone.

"There was no good way to find out what was happening across your interests in your local market or in a market you're traveling to," Glazier said.

So Dear launched Eventful, which utilizes a Web site ( and e-mail notification as well as mobile applications and content distributed through widgets and apps to keep users informed about things they're interested in before they happen.

"Eventful gives people time to make plans with their friends or to connect with people with common interests, so they can go together," Glazier explained.

From that service goal, it was a short step to address another common concern: events you wish would happen but had not been scheduled. This inspired Eventful to create its Demand feature, which helps fans register and influence where and when events such as music performances can occur. "It's a way to finally be able to communicate to event organizers, promoters and performers that you would be willing to buy a ticket to see your favorite performer," Glazier said.

Through this process, fans become emotionally invested in the performers they help bring into their markets. "Instead of just reading about it in your local daily and deciding whether you're going to go, which is a very passive experience, for months in advance of the event you have been a part of the process of where that event is going to occur," Glazier pointed out. "When the event happens, not only do you go, you also bring your friends and family."

Eventful's users select from nearly 4 million events taking place in local markets throughout the world, from concerts and sports to singles events and political rallies. While some of the first events to use the Demand feature were book signings and art gallery openings, Glazier noted, "It very quickly became apparent that we'd struck a nerve in the music industry."

That connection has amplified to the point of KISS partnering with Eventful to route its upcoming U.S. and Canadian tours. Fans "demanded" where the legendary rock band would perform, beginning this September. And along with registering votes in hopes of bringing KISS into the market, fans could monitor the tally of votes elsewhere to see which cities were in the lead.

"We help performers make the right decisions about where to perform, based upon really good, substantial, rigorous data about where there is demand by their fans for events," Glazier said. "Whether to go to Nashville or Chicago or Los Angeles, those are easy decisions. When they're deciding to go to Columbus or Cleveland, historically it's like throwing a dart. Economically, where should they tour to sell tickets?"

Eventful has impacted the Country market too, as Little Big Town teamed with the organization to find an opening act for four shows on "A Place to Land," the group's first headlining tour, in March. Prospective artists and groups responded by encouraging their fans to "demand" that they get the opportunity.

The campaign was a natural fit for Little Big Town. "We're all about nurturing new artists and struggling artists because we did the exact same thing," said band member Phillip Sweet. "We went out and played in front of whomever so we could get our name out there. It was about giving these artists an opportunity and letting them do their thing in front of our audience. There are fewer and fewer opportunities for new artists."

Fifty thousand fans participated and 309 bands competed. It was, as Sweet described, a "good all-around experiment. There was no faking it. You definitely had to get your fans going for you. It's good to find new ways to market yourself and generate activity for yourself. We didn't know what to expect or what would come from it. We got four different and unique artists [to open for us], which was cool."

One of those winners was Josey Greenwell, an independent artist from Kentucky who earned the chance to open for the group in Tulsa, Okla. While Greenwell, who counts John Mayer, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban among his influences, had considered entering talent search-type contests in the past, the Eventful experience exceeded his expectations.

"I never thought there'd be a contest where you could go straight to opening for someone," he said. "It was a great opportunity and a great experience. I can't believe someone in Little Big Town's position would extend this opportunity to someone trying to get started. I'm so thankful to them. I've been introduced to a broader audience. We've been getting a few more gigs here and there, and more people have been checking out my MySpace page."

Greenwell, who also stays in touch with fans through his Twitter account, had been using Eventful's Demand widget on his MySpace page even before entering the contest. He also uses the company's Performer Dashboard feature. "They give you a lot of stats that I can look at and see who is listening to my music and where we should go," he noted.

Record label executives are also taking note of the Eventful model. "What can we do to add more ticket sales and word of mouth when it's a smaller tour?" asked Cindy Mabe, Senior VP, Marketing, Capitol Records Nashville. "You want to build as much word of mouth as you can. When there's less cash involved, getting fans involved is just the way you've got to go."

Club owners and venue operators are utilizing Eventful too. "Venues are coming to our site to see who is in demand in their local market to make informed decisions about who they should book," Glazier said. "We've got venues all across the country using the data."

Luke Bryan, whose second Capitol Nashville album, Doin' My Thing, is due in October, has partnered with Eventful for a promotion that allowed his fans to bring an album release show to their city. Bryan's hometown of Leesburg, Ga., won the honor by submitting the most demands over an eight-week period.

Mabe chose Eventful for the Bryan promotion because of the label's experience with the Little Big Town promotion. "It generated a lot of noise, got people excited about the tour and helped propel their first headlining tour," she explained.

"In this day and age, it's so critical to encourage fan involvement and accessibility," added Bryan. "You're always looking for a new way to capture a fan and get them involved."

Almost immediately after the contest was announced in May, fans began posting Demand banners and widgets on their local networks, according to Mabe. "We're competing for everyone's attention, time and money," she said. "Having the fan involvement and word of mouth is more critical than ever these days."

People use Eventful to track and share events in many ways, which include importing iTunes and performer lists, exporting events via feeds, calendar widgets and services, e-mail alerts and customized e-mail event guides and watch lists.

Supported by advertisers, Eventful is free to artists, labels, booking agents and managers. The company also makes money through ticketing partnerships and ringtone partnerships and from licensing event content to other companies that use the information to power their online calendars and mobile applications.

And it's expanding its fan base to include many of the artists who have made use of it. "It's a really cool idea," Sweet said. "I think we're going to see it evolve and grow. They are making an impact, and I think we're going to see a lot of artists experimenting with this in the future."

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