US concert giant Live Nation recently shook the music industry’s very foundations by signing Madonna to its Artist Nation division; a deal which perfectly illustrates the extent to which the sector’s sands are shifting. For MidemNet Forum speaker Bryan Perez, Live Nation’s global digital president, “the record labels have their own strengths and weaknesses, but the company who emerges from all the chaos in the industry right now is the one who has the best connection with the fan.” Read on…
Why did you agree to speak at MidemNet? What key message do you hope to put across?
As the pre-eminent international music conference, it was obvious that this is a great opportunity for us to speak about LiveNation.com and its importance to Live Nation’s overall business strategy. LiveNation.com is rapidly emerging as a global platform for selling concert tickets and connecting artists with their fans anywhere in the world. We have already captured the number two spot on the internet in the US [#2 event website on net re. Neilsen Netratings], and by Q1 2008 the site will be in 15 countries in 12 languages, making it the first truly global platform for live music. So MidemNet was a natural.
Live Nation recently hit the headlines with the Madonna deal: how did that come about?
The Madonna deal is really the cornerstone of launching our Artist Nation division and a clear signal of our strategy: to use our global touring strength, coupled with the impressive collection of assets and capabilities assembled in Artist Nation to drive more artist goods, services and fan connections via the LiveNation.com platform.
Does this suggest a new role for companies like yours? What are its implications, notably in the digital field? Is this the beginning of the end for the majors?
LiveNation.com is where the rubber meets the road for us, so having a leading consumer storefront and connection to the fan via a digital platform is a critical part of defining a new role for us. The record labels have their own strengths and weaknesses, but the company who emerges from all the chaos in the industry right now is the one who has the best connection with the fan. We have the advantage of dealing directly with the consumer to distribute our product. We know their name and address when they purchase a ticket, have the ability to develop a trusted relationship and dialog with them, and actually spend 3 plus hours with them in person. Not many companies in our industry can claim that.
You recently launched various widgets/Facebook apps/Google toolbars to your online offering: would you agree this type of personalisation is the future of the internet?
No question. Two statistics tell the story here. Firstly, far and away the number one reason people don’t attend concerts is because they didn’t know about them; and secondly, 78% of our fans would like a personal concert calendar. With all that’s going on online and in people’s personal lives, we absolutely have to make things easier for them. So we need to be when and where they are. Despite the success of LiveNation.com, we recognise it’s not a destination world any more; the internet is a distributed model now. So you will see us continuing to be aggressive in this area.
One would think online promo/support works better for smaller, indie bands than the big name acts one associates with Live Nation. Is this not true?
First, we’re more supportive of the indie artists than people realise. We promote over 10,000 shows each year and the overwhelming majority of those are in clubs and theatres. These emerging artists are our lifeblood, as without them, the future looks a lot different. So we want to create a platform that provides emerging artists with the same fan-reaching tools that Madonna or U2 have. We have the capacity and capital to do so, and in many ways, it’s our obligation. But to answer your question, established acts can learn a lot from the innovation that indie acts have to deploy to get noticed. Reaching new fans is a lifelong pursuit for artists and they must adapt with popular culture.