Product Managers Prepare To Tap Into The Superfans

Virtual concerts have paved the way to know more about an artist's fans
Virtual concerts have paved the way to know more about an artist’s fans
Image Credit: jane1000

So I think that we can all agree on one thing: the pandemic changed just about everything. In the world of music performances the change was sudden and dramatic: all concerts were cancelled. Clearly, for the product managers who promote musicians this was a major setback. However, product managers are never stopped for long and virtual concerts that were delivered online were then quickly created. Now that the pandemic has receded, product managers are finding themselves in an interesting situation that they are trying to determine how they will go about making the most of.

What is A “Superfan”?

Product managers for performance artists now know a lot more about their fans than they did before the Covid-19 lockdowns, and they want to use that information to get closer to them. During the pandemic, the music business had to quickly pivot to online. They were aided by an explosion of new websites that help artists perform, chat and interact with fans virtually. The result of all of this is that it generated a host of data about who was tuning in, and how they were spending both their time and dollars. This data that has historically been controlled and owned by content distributors, concert promoters and ticketing companies – not the product managers.

However, now that they are newly armed with these granular fan insights, artists’ product managers are beginning to tailor marketing messages, communicate with fans in more direct ways, and create new experiences for their die-hard followers. Previously an artist might have thought that a fan might come to their gig and buy some merch and leave and that would be the end of it. Through this gathering of data and building of networks, now these product managers can reach out to super fans and give them an opportunity or a perk that isn’t going to be available through other channels.

Before the pandemic, artist product managers were unlikely to have even basic information such as name, phone number, location about their fans. Live-streaming platforms now offer much more in-depth data, such as how long fans watch a virtual concert, if they engaged with chat or other features and, most importantly, how much money they spent. That has helped artist product managers to zero in on their superfans. These are the fans who come to every virtual show or spend on VIP experiences and merchandise.

The Power Of Superfans

Being able to identify the superfans is so important because so much of an artist’s time in marketing a new release or tour is spent shouting out into the void and hoping people are hearing. If a product manager can ID the people who are going to show up and engage with the artist, then they no longer have to waste resources or time. Product managers are beginning to rework how to market tours, merchandise and album releases. With their new data, they might target certain fans with a presale or offer VIP access. Alternatively they may choose tour dates based on where they have built up a fan base via livestreamed concerts.

Aside from interactive live streaming and virtual-reality performance sites such as Maestro, Mandolin and Wave, product managers are harnessing other upstarts that connect artists and fans in new ways, opening up fresh avenues for artists to generate and collect data. An example of this is the text-messaging platform Community which allows brands and celebrities to text with consumers and fans. Cameo is another app where users can buy customized video greetings from celebrities. Cameo has added the ability for fans to meet one-on-one with stars in live video calls. Collecting fan data through live streaming and other platforms has a different value than gaining followers on social media because of the level of control that product managers have.

What product managers realize is that if Facebook were to go away tomorrow, an artist’s audience would go away with it However, when you have a platform that enables you to get data from fans, you now own that audience. Product managers realize that audiences today are more fragmented. Finding the most engaged fans is something that is more important than ever, as artists are more likely to have smaller, more niche fanbases than in the days when radio DJs crowned hitmakers with broad appeal. The question for artists to answer now is “How do I deliver this to the fans who care about me the most and use that to grow my audience as opposed to getting the broadest distribution out of the gate?”

What All Of This Means For You

The arrival of the pandemic really turned the worlds of many performance artists upside down. Their product managers had to scramble to determine how best to keep their artists relevant when they could not tour or interact with their fans. The good news is that solutions such as streaming music were found and this has allowed fans to feel as though they can get even closer to their most favorite performers. How can the artist’s product managers use this new way of doing business going forward?

Product managers for performing artists now know a great deal more about the artist’s fans than they did before the pandemic. The pivot to online entertainment allowed these product managers to collect more detailed information on fans than ever before. Now that they have this data, product managers are able to more precisely target fans with marketing materials. Product managers had little fan information before the pandemic. However, now they have enough data to be able to zero in on the fans who are superfans. The identification of superfans allows product managers to tailor marketing material to these fans instead of having to target everyone. The ability to identify engaged fans is critical to artist’s product manager’s success.

The world has changed. The product managers who work for performing artists now have a great deal of data available to them regarding the artist’s fans. Using this data, tailored marketing campaigns that will be successful can be created. This is something that they never used to be able to do. Using their new connections to an artist’s superfans, product manager now have the ability to ensure that the next album or tour will be a success!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it might be possible to overuse superfan data?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Product Manager Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Product Manager Newsletter are now available. It’s your product – it’s your career. Subscribe now: Click Here!

The product managers for heavy equipment, you know things like cranes, backhoes, rollers, etc., have a bit of a problem on their hands. When times are good and people are buying their product, then times are really good. When times are bad, and people stop buying their products, then times are really bad. These product managers are searching for ways to change their product development definition in order to create a smoother revenue stream that would carry them through the bad times as well as through the good times.

The post Product Managers Prepare To Tap Into The Superfans appeared first on The Accidental Product Manager.

FlyMachine raises $21 million to build a virtual concerts platform for a post-pandemic world

As concerts and live events return to the physical world stateside, many in the tech industry have wondered whether some of the pandemic-era opportunities around virtualizing these events are lost for the time being.

San Francisco-based FlyMachine is aiming to seek out the holy grail of the digital music industry, finding a way to capture some of the magic of live concerts and performances in a live-streamed setting. The startup hopes that pandemic era consumer habits around video chat socialization combined with an industry in need of digital diversification can push their flavor of virtual concerts into the lives of music fans.

The startup’s ambitions aren’t cheap, FlyMachine tells TechCrunch it has raised $21 million in investor funding to bankroll its plans. The funding has been led by Greycroft Partners and SignalFire, with additional participation from Primary Venture Partners, Contour Venture Partners, Red Sea Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank.

The virtual concert industry didn’t have as big of a lockdown moment as some hoped for. Spotify experimented with virtual events. Meanwhile, startups like Wave raised huge bouts of VC funding to turn real performers into digital avatars in a bid to create more digital-native concerts. And while some smaller artists embraced shows over Zoom or worked with startups like Oda who created live concert subscriptions, there were few mainstream hits among bigger acts.

To make FlyMachine’s brand of virtual concerts a thing, the startup isn’t trying to convert potential in-person attendees of a show into virtual participants, instead hoping to create an attractive experience for the folks who would normally have to skip the show. Whether those virtual attendees were too far from a venue, couldn’t get a babysitter for the night, or just aren’t jazzed about a mosh pit scene anymore, FlyMachine is hoping there are enough potential attendees on the bubble to sustain the startup as they try to blur the lines between “a night in and a night out,” CEO Andrew Dreskin says.

The startup’s strategy centers on building up partnerships with name brand concert venues around the US — Bowery Ballroom in New York City, Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, The Crocodile in Seattle, Marathon Music Works in Nashville and Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, among them — and live-streaming some of the shows at those venues to at-home audiences. FlyMachine’s team has deep roots in the music industry, Dreskin founded Ticketfly (acquired by Pandora) while co-founder Rick Farman is also the co-founder of Superfly which puts on the Bonnaroo and Outside Lands music festivals.

In terms of actual experience — and I had the chance to experience one of the shows (pictured above) before writing this — FlyMachine has done their best to recreate the experience of shouting over the tunes to talk with your buddies nearby. In FlyMachine’s world this is attending the show in a “private room” with your other friends live-streaming in video chat bubbles from their homes. It’s well-done and doesn’t distract too much from the actual concert, but you can adjust the sound levels of your friends and the music when the time calls for it.

FlyMachine’s platform launch earlier this year, arriving as many Americans have been vaccinated and many concert-goers are preparing to return to normal, might have been considered a bit late to the moment, but the founding team sees a long-term opportunity that COVID only further highlighted.

“We weren’t in a mad dash to get the product out the door while people were sequestered in their homes because we knew this would be part of the fabric of society going forward,” Dreskin tells TechCrunch.

Concert livestreaming platform Mandolin raises $12M

Mandolin just marked its first birthday earlier this month, and yet the Indianapolis-based startup is already announcing a $12 million Series A. That’s a quick follow up to the $5 million seed it raised in early October of last year. Turns out the global pandemic is a pretty fortuitious time to launch and grow a concert streaming platform.

The oversubscribed round was co-led by 645 Ventures and Foundry Group and featured additional funding from existing investors like High Alpha and TIME Ventures (Marc Benioff).

The big question, of course, is what happens to a company like Mandolin when the world starts opening back up? Sure concert livestreams got a massive boost as fans and artists alike were seeking an outlet as touring ground to a halt. But what now that venues are starting to reopen.

“As artists return to performing in sold out venues, Live+ will undoubtedly become a can’t-live-without digital complement that amplifies live shows,” CEO Mary Kay Huse said in a release. “Our new round of financing will support us in driving innovation of our core solution, delivering new digital offerings, and reinforcing our routes to market, so that every show is Live+.”

Image Credits: Mandolin

Granted, that’s…pretty abstract. But the simple answer is the company has been looking toward enhancing the in-person event as well, ahead of an inevitable reopening. Essentially the company wants to build a companion app for shows.

Here’s what Huse told Variety last week, “I would love it if we could see upwards of 50% of in-person attendees experiencing something digitally while in the venue, as early as before the end of the year. It’s just creating a compelling content that makes them want to do it.”

The company will also continue to focus on streaming, which may see a hit, but certainly isn’t going away, post-pandemic. The news also sees 645 Managing Partner Nnamdi Okike joining the company’s board.

“During COVID-19, livestreaming has been a game-changer for fans who want to experience their favorite artists, and for artists and venues who want to bring exciting live events for their fans,” Okike said. “Mandolin provides the best technology platform to enable these experiences, and they’re also scaling a company to meet the needs of this fast-growing category.”


As venues reopen, Mixhalo announces new tech for in-person live event streaming

As venues reopen across the U.S., Mixhalo has announced a pair of additions to its in-person audio live event audio streaming platform: Mixhalo Over Cellular and Mixhalo Rodeo.

The first is, more or less, what it sounds like. Rather than relying on Wi-Fi, the leverages 5G. The company says it will be able to offer a similar “ultra-low latency” that made the initial Wi-Fi product so compelling.

Mixhalo is working with a carrier to roll out the feature, but won’t say which. It notes, however, that while it would work with LTE, for obvious reasons, 5G provides a greater opportunity to decrease latency.

Rodeo, meanwhile, is designed to work with existing venue wireless to circumvent the need to install an additional overlay system.

“The Rodeo system actually reduces network strain since the existing access points are now aware of the Mixhalo traffic and can plan for and buffer network data accordingly,” CEO John Vars tells TechCrunch. “If a venue has installed a wireless system post-2015, they are likely to have the necessary hardware to support Rodeo in their venue. We do need to install a server in the venue’s server room, but that is the only hardware component of Rodeo.”

Image Credits: Mixhalo

Co-founded by Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger, Mixhalo launched its product onstage at Disrupt 2017 (with some help from Pharrell), promising to deliver live event sounds through its ultra-low latency streaming tech.

Naturally, 2020 and the first half of this year have been a pretty major trial for a startup so tied to live events. Vars tells TechCrunch that the company was forced to reduce headcount at the beginning of the pandemic as contracts were ended, but adds that the company has managed to grow since, in part on the strength of a number of partnerships.

33880884864 9f2f7a02dc k

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 17: (L-R) Pharrell Williams, Founder and CEO of MIXhalo Mike Einziger and TechCrunch senior writer Anthony Ha speak onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 – Day 3 at Pier 36 on May 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch) *** Local Caption *** Pharrell Williams;Mike Einziger;Anthony Ha

“The silver lining in all of this is that we got a chance to step back and laser-focus on improving our core product,” says Vars. “These improvements include this announcement of Mixhalo Rodeo and Mixhalo over Cellular, as well as the capability to dynamically adjust latency based on physical position in the venue — we may not have had the time and opportunity to work on these improvements in the full swing of pre-pandemic business. With these new features, we’ve seen piqued interest from partners in the sports world and are excited to see this use case of Mixhalo really take off.”

Amazon snags Taylor Swift to headline its Prime Day 2019 concert

Amazon is going big on this year’s Prime Day. In addition to expanding its popular sales event to two days instead of one, the retailer is also planning to host a Prime Day Concert headlined by Taylor Swift, exclusively for Prime members. The concert streams worldwide on July 10, 2019, at 9 PM ET on Prime Video — but you’ll need to be a paying subscriber to watch. Other artists will also participate in the concert, including Dua Lipa, SZA, and Becky G.

The concert serves several purposes beyond just raising awareness around Prime Day or giving Prime members another perk. It’s also a marketing vehicle for Amazon Music, which Amazon is today offering for 99 cents for the first four months. Prime members get access to 2 million songs with Prime Music, but can upgrade to Amazon Music Unlimited to access 50 million songs, ad-free.

In addition, Amazon plans to use the concert airtime to advertise its upcoming Amazon Original series, including Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne; Modern Love, based on the NYT column of the same name; the Emmy-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan; superhero drama The Boys; new animated series Undone, and more.

The timing of the concert — which arrives ahead of Prime Day’s July 15 kickoff — is notable, too. By hosting the event in advance, Amazon is encouraging potential new Prime members to sign up early for the $119 per year Prime subscription — instead of bombarding Amazon’s website with sign-up requests on Prime Day itself in order to gain access to the exclusive deals.

Though Amazon’s site is used to handling heavy loads, Prime Day has not been without its issues at times. For example, last year, Amazon went down at the beginning of Prime Day — the Prime Day landing page broke, error pages abounded, and checkout wasn’t working.

Amazon says the concert will stream live on Prime Video in more than 200 countries and will be available for next-day, on-demand viewing for a limited time after.

Subscribers can watch the concert via Prime Video on any platform, and can ask Alexa to ” play the Prime Day Concert” or “show me the Prime Day Concert” on their Fire TV or Echo Show devices.

This is not the first time Amazon has hosted a Prime Day concert. Last year, Ariana Grande headlined a similar event.

“We can’t wait to celebrate Prime Day with an extraordinary night of unforgettable performances, for members around the globe,” said Steve Boom, VP of Amazon Music, in a statement. “Prime Day brings members the best of both entertainment and shopping. To celebrate, we’ve curated a lineup across multiple genres with performances from artists our customers love. We’re looking forward to celebrating Prime Day with this can’t-miss, one-of-a-kind event,” he added.