Concert survey categorizes concert-goers

By Emily Ornberg

Are you a Plugged-Indie or a Tag-Along?

Bandsintown, a Facebook and smartphone concert discovery application, commissioned a survey through Insight Strategy Group with noteworthy results regarding the ticket buying habits and

psychological tendencies of live music fans.

Julien Mitelberg, CEO of Bandsintown and its parent company, Cellfish Media, said the survey was occasioned by a lack of data concerning how consumers find concerts and buy tickets.

The online survey split consumers into five distinct categories that offer insight into how tour marketers can effectively target fans and increase sales revenue: Super Fans, Plugged-Indies, Soloists, Dedicated Diehards and Tag-Alongs. The survey took into account both the social and musical aspects of attending a concert.

Super Fans are defined as individuals who are “extremely invested and knowledgeable about music,” have a thriving social life, know about new music before their friends do and are almost always willing to pay more for a better concert experience. Plugged-Indies always seek out music, have obscure musical tastes and prefer small, intimate venues. Soloists do not enjoy the social aspects of concerts and prefer to listen to music at home. Dedicated Diehards love their favorite bands, rarely seek out new music and are usually older. Tag-Alongs are not invested in live music, go to shows only if their spouse or friends are attending and have the highest average annual income out of all the groups.

A majority of Super Fans (88 percent) and Plugged-Indies (85 percent) use Facebook, and 89 and 79 percent of them, respectively, will update their status about the concert. Super Fans, Diehards and Plugged-Indies are almost unanimously willing to pay more for a better concert experience.

The survey was conducted with participation from 1,800 music fans, ages 16-59, who are active Internet and Facebook users and have paid to see live music in the past year. The goal was to break down today’s live music fan: who they are, their concert-going behavior and what is important to them.

Mitelberg said that although many of the survey’s findings were surprising, the data confirmed theories already circulating among industry experts. He said the consumers and fans who searched for concerts on Google a few years ago now expect to have the information brought to them—a shift from the “pull mode” to the “push mode” of concert marketing.

“Consumers expect to learn about the concerts from artists’ Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, email and from the ticket distributors like Ticketmaster or from apps like ours,” Mitelberg said.

David Carlucci, former vice president of the Chicago Theater and general manager of three major amphitheaters, noted that online ticket sales have almost taken over live music marketing. If the show sells out, 90 percent of tickets will be sold through social media, he said.

“What’s happened for many, many years, [is] people would go to an outlet and they would buy tickets in person,” Carlucci said. “You’d have to get your number and stand in line. With [social media] and the Internet, now 85 percent of the tickets are being bought over the Internet. It may even be 90 [percent] by now. So many shows sell so early. You’re putting your tickets on sale in February for a July show.”

Mitelberg explained that Google search trends prove this shift has continued to progress.

“When you look at the Google trends in the keyword ‘concerts,’ you will see that the trend has been going down in the number of keyword searches in Google in the past four years,” he said. “That’s because people expect to receive the information by email or by text message or notifications on their phone, and that’s quite interesting.”

Miranda Van Auken, a junior arts, entertainment and media management major, uses Bandsintown to look at show listings via Facebook. She said she goes to shows often, primarily for the music experience and not the social aspect, although it factors into her concert ticket-buying decision.

“I don’t go to shows just for the fun of it because I’m a poor college student and I can’t afford to go to any show just to go,” Van Auken said. “But as far as social aspect goes, there are definitely venues that I like more than others. So if a band is playing there, then I’m more likely to go see them than if they’re playing at a venue that I didn’t like as much. The way that the atmosphere is set up at the venue affects whether I’m more likely to go to a show.”

Although the survey defines only a few of the fan bases as Diehards or Super Fans, Carlucci said that no matter the genre the fans enjoy, they are all passionate about the music.

“I hate to say it, but when they’re into their artist, they’re crazy, and they’re going to [do] anything they can do to get that ticket,” Carlucci said. “I’d love to have a dollar for every phone call I’ve ever received in my career from every fan base wanting tickets. My calls used to start at 4:30 in the morning. All the fanbases are, maybe not crazy, but they’re excited.”