The future is live: Why every brand should invest in real-time

Explosive growth of live is outpacing recorded/streaming music and projected to mature to a $28.2 billion industry by 2020.

You may not have attended a live music event this year, but chances are festival media has been clogging up your social feed since the moment you first downloaded Instagram.

That’s not going away. 

In fact, the explosive growth of live is outpacing recorded/streaming music and is projected to mature to a $28.2 billion industry by 2020, according to PwC's recent Global Media & Entertainment Outlook report. 

This is fueling brand appetite to jump into the world of festivals and concerts and offer unique fan experiences IRL.  

"More brands, whether endemic to live music or not, are leaning into live because they are looking for more creative, cultural places to connect with people who are open, receptive and excited," said Russell Wallach, president, media and sponsorship at Live Nation -- the company behind Ticketmaster and the world’s largest live events including Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo. 

"As our lives become increasingly digitized, people across generations are craving human connection and real-life experiences now more than ever before. As a result, people are going to live music events in record numbers to connect, be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime moment and have an emotional experience, making live one of the most powerful mediums for brands. Not to mention, live music events have become a playground for influencers, and thereby, a natural launchpad for cultural trends, which is very enticing to many brands."

Live Nation is on track to have nearly 100 million fans attend more than 100 festivals and 38,000 concerts in 45 countries in 2019.

A 2018 study by the company found that two thirds of Gen X/Y/Z are going to a live music event every year. Nearly 90 percent of these people are sharing stories, pictures or videos about the experience on social media.  

Biometric research suggested fans are most receptive in the live environment because it is so emotionally charged. Around 60 percent agree that the more emotional intensity they are feeling, the more likely they are to connect with brands. A whopping 90 percent say there’s at least one thing a brand can do at a live music experience to enhance the experience. 

Live music fans are more powerful than the mass consumer because across the world, they are four times more likely to have 1,000 followers or more versus non-live music goers on social, according to the study. 

Couple these stats with the fact that fans also have higher spending power (+25 percent more household income than non-live music goers), and you’ve got a recipe for the planet’s most captive audience.  

"Brands across all categories come to us for a variety of reasons from driving loyalty programs and creating authentic content to be shared across social channels, to launching new products and bringing a brand’s personality to life through immersive experiences to name a few," Wallach explained. 

"We are now working with many brands to amplify the live experience before and after the event so they can take full advantage of the entire fan journey which lasts anywhere from six months to a year."

Live Nation recently announced the launch of a global, 400-person in-house creative shop to work in tandem with brands and their agencies.

Wallach describes the in-house team’s role as a complementary one that acts as a small piece of the broader picture. The goal is that brands take advantage of the firm’s deep understanding of live music fans to help them imagine how they can come to life through the most immersive and shareable experiences, all while adding value to the fan. 

Live Nation’s input is every step of the way from strategy and creative to artist integration, production, content and even measurement. Its proprietary platform, Soundboard, enables brands to tap into more than 15,000 live music fans globally to field questions and surface trends in real-time. This roots all marketing programs, solutions and pitches in audience insights.

State Farm is one brand that may not be endemic to music but has taken advantage of Live Nation’s offerings to appear in front of consumers in ways it previously struggled to do. 

This year, the insurance company has created a high-energy, interactive space that encourages fans to take a small action to support music education for underserved students at seven Live Nation music festivals.

Whether it’s dancing, singing, performing or listening, every interaction in the State Farm "Neighborhood of Good" is converted into currency toward a contribution of up to half a million dollars to Notes for Notes -- a nonprofit organization that designs, equips, and staffs after-school recording studios inside Boys & Girls Clubs. 

In 2018, more than 28,000 festival goers completed around 24,000 acts of good that were donated to local nonprofits. A total of 90 percent of festival goers surveyed reported a positive experience with State Farm’s space and 81 percent said its presence at the music festival impacted their purchase consideration.

Patty Morris, director of brand content and development at State Farm, told Campaign US: "State Farm has been involved in music for many years. Recently, we’ve been more intentional and focused on the authentic ways that music connects to our brand—and that is the power of music to bring people together as a community, to strengthen and help each other. For our nearly 100 years as a brand, it’s in our DNA to be good neighbors, so we use music to help strengthen communities."

Speaking to the obstacles live music presents, she said: "It’s certainly a challenge for an insurance brand to be an authentic part of the music experience, but what we’ve shown time and time again is that we can authentically leverage live music to connect with fans. We help fans have a better live music experience and also inspire and enable them to give back and help people, just like a good neighbor should."

Revlon too highlighted the struggle in breaking through the noise at live events. 

"You have to consider how to fit organically and visibly into a crowded space and ensure that the experience you create is compelling and captures the attention of attendees who may be most interested in the music performances," said Silvia Galfo, global brand president. 

But the makeup company did exactly that with its Revlon Ultra Rollerama at this year’s Lollapalooza. It featured a retro roller skating rink to introduce its new Ultra HD Vinyl Lip Polish. Galfo said the makeup look you get from Ultra HD connects with the expressive and colorful 1980s vibe that has been on trend, so it took cues from both to capture that essence at the rink. 

Roller skating has an organic tie to music and has been emerging back into pop culture in TV shows, on the runways and more, making the choice an authentic one, offering a fun and highly-shareable experience.

Over the course of the festival, Revlon sampled more than 20,000 products, increased its share of conversation and engagement across social channels, and grew its 18 to 24-year-old community.

Galfo said: "Music and beauty are both platforms for self-expression so there’s an organic connection for us to lean into the music space as one facet of our Live Boldly platform encourages self-expression.

"Music has been a recurring theme in our Revlon strategy over the past few years and as we evolve and refresh our brand, we want to create an emotional connection and maintain cultural relevance through it. Via our Brand Ambassadors, high quality and innovative products and campaigns, we promote self-expression to inspire individuals to be confident in who they are and hold nothing back.  

"Our partnership with Live Nation this summer for Lollapalooza was our first big venture into live music. Festival culture has been growing immensely and we’ve seen many beauty trends cultivated in this space over the past few years so it made sense for us to participate in this huge cultural moment."

PepsiCo is another brand leaning into live events. It has seen much success in this space. 

Emma Quigley, head of music and entertainment, added: "Live music is incredibly important to our brands. It’s the perfect environment to connect directly with our consumers when they’re hungry for experiences, whilst giving us the opportunity to bring to life a physical manifestation of the brand’s identity during a cultural moment."

The fusion of brands and live music extends well beyond the actual event. Wallach estimates that the entire fan journey can last anywhere from six months to a year. 

In advance of a live music event, for example, people are prepping for weeks-on-end by shopping for new clothes and accessories, experimenting with beauty products, or buying the latest camping gear. The journey to these events also offers an opportunity for brands to strike. 

Fans are also extending the experience long after the lights go up. 

Wallach addes: "Whether it’s finding the restaurant or bar to go to immediately after the show, throwing it back on Instagram with content that lives on, or indulging in some relaxation and self care to recover, there are so many opportunities for brands to be a part of the entire journey. 

"And with the rise of digital ticketing layered on top of geo-fencing, Bluetooth beacons, wifi sensors and RFID technology, this all becomes a lot more sophisticated and interesting for brands looking to reach personalization at scale in live."

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