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Promoting Shows and Engaging Fans with Bandsintown

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The New Music Business Podcast with Ari Herstand - Promoting Shows and Engaging Fans with Bandsintown

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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Promoting Shows and Engaging Fans with Bandsintown

Listen on your favorite podcast platform: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Acast

Order THIRD EDITION of How to Make It in the New Music Business here.

Fabrice Sergent is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Bandsintown Group ( With 560,000 registered artists, Bandsintown is one of the largest artist services platforms in the world. 97% of the Top 500 artists in America are active on the platform. The company’s advertising platform enables brands to reach 250M music fans worldwide each month, and its flagship live music discovery platform Bandsintown serves 75M registered music fans and 560,000 artists.

In 2021, Bandsintown was named to Variety’s “10 Tech Innovators To Watch” and Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies.” In 2018, Fabrice was named as a “Most Creative person in business” by Inc. Magazine. In 2022, Bandsintown launched its Fan Management Suite, a toolkit designed to help artists grow a fanbase that includes a robust tour date widget, smart links, analytics, a robust email program, and more – all 100% free to artists.

04:27 Welcome
06:33 What is Bandsintown?
10:13 How artists gain followers and how their fans are notified
21:08 Bandsintown discovery tools for emerging artists
28:19 How Bandsintown tracks ticket sales from Ticketmaster data
33:23 How an artist’s Bandsintown follower count connects to ticket sales
37:41 Bandsintown discovery tools (continued)
40:42 Email marketing campaigns to reach more fans of similar sounding artists
43:08 Show promoters and the new norm of audience buying behavior
46:20 Advice for indie artists to increase their ticket sales and 2023 ticket buying trends
55:37 Ticketmaster hearing and the future of touring sustainability
01:03:05 Final question

Edited and mixed by Maxton Hunter
Music by Brassroots District
Produced by the team at Ari’s Take

. . . . . . . . .

Ari: Fabrice Sergeant, welcome to the show!

Fabrice: Ari . Hey, hi Ari! So happy to with, to be with you today.

Ari: Happy to be with you too. So, uh, I know that you’re coming to me from Miami right now. You don’t sound like you’re a Miami local native. Uh, tell me where you’re originally from. .

Fabrice: I’m new. I was born in Paris. Born in Paris. I, I thought I, I thought I, uh, heard a little bit of that. Uh, I was just in Paris a couple months ago. You mean you heard a little bit of New York , right, exactly.

Ari: Yeah, . Um, cool. So I’m, I’m excited to talk to you today because, you know, I’ve been a bands in town user, uh, since the beginning. I want to say probably since, you know, day one of your platform. I mean, I, I’ve, I’ve used it. For myself as a touring artist, uh, for bands I’ve managed, uh, as a fan. Um, you know, so I, I feel like I know the platform really well, and something that I have always appreciated, uh, as an artist is, um, the ability that that bands in town kind of gives us to notify and connect with our fans, um, when not just announcing shows, but like letting them know about the shows that were coming in another, these like connection tools that you give, uh, to artists for free. And it’s, it’s really appreciated because, you know, as we know, uh, the number one reason fans don’t go to concerts is because they don’t know about ’em. They don’t hear about ’em. And so, like, you’ve been, you’ve been doing God’s work Fabric, Bria, and like helping, uh, helping artists get the word out about our shows. And so we, you know, we appreciate it. But, um, I, I want to, you know, zoom out a little bit and, um, first off, Hear from your perspective or just from your mouth? Because I could say it one way, but I want hear how you describe bands in town and, and like, give me, give me the, for someone who’s tuning in right now, I can’t imagine anyone doesn’t know what bands in town is, but at this point give me the, gimme the spiel for somebody just tuning in and be like, what is bands in town?

What is Bandsintown?

Fabrice: Well, bans, InTown for Artists is really, uh, not only one platform that helps artists build sustainable future, which means in our world that we help artists, um, list their events and connect with their fans. Mm-hmm. , um, acquire first party optimiz and data and really be able to engage with the fans all along the lifecycle of the artist. And I start with Benington artists because we help 560,000 artists doing this every single month. Mm-hmm. , last year we listed, uh, 1.4 million events. . Um, and we helped about 160,000 artists touring, uh, with free tools to display their products on their websites to post and share their products on their socials. Mm-hmm. , and to again, uh, use our free messaging platform and our free email platforms to email fans and stay in touch with them. That’s, that’s benington for artists. Yes. And we are an artist first platform. Mm-hmm. . So, uh, hence the reason why I start. Yes. Uh, with, with Benington for artists now we help those artists connect with, uh, 75 million. In fact, today, 76 million registered users, um, mostly North America, two third in North America. And, and these users indeed get alerts on when the artists, their favorite artists come to town. Hence the name, but most importantly, Uh, because of this, um, algorithm that we’ve built over time, it’s machine learning. It’s, it’s in fact, uh, it’s very, uh, trendy these days to talk about, to talk about ai. Mm-hmm. But that’s really what, how we built Ben in town. Most importantly, we recommend shows to fans. We send about 120 million emails to fans every month, which are highly personalized. Mm-hmm. , and which will recommend on average four shows. You know, 33% of do shows are for artists that fans don’t follow. And more than 54% of the fans clicked on by tickets for a show of an artist that didn’t follow before. Mm-hmm. . And the last, uh, key, key number I will leave you with is you have to realize that 50% of our fans. Both tickets of a, of an artist of less than a hundred thousand follower on Benington. So the discovery engine really works really well. 50% of the fans bought a ticket of an artist of less than a hundred thousand follower. Okay, so, so essentially a relatively small artist, at least a, a. A rising act. Okay. Um, so that discovery aspect of Benington is really at the core of the success of the platform.

Ari: Okay. You, you threw out a lot of numbers and a lot of stats, and I’ve been furiously writing some of these down, but I wanna, I want to, I wanna, um, interrogate some of these numbers, uh, for sure. For a little while and kind of get into the meat of what these actually mean. So let’s, let’s go in reverse order. And I wanna start with that. You said 50% of, um, the fans, 50% of, uh, fans buy tickets to artists with under a hundred thousand followers. Now let’s put that in perspective because, um, follower numbers can mean, uh, dramatically different things on different platforms. Uh mm-hmm. a hundred thousand followers on Spotify means something dramatically different than a hundred thousand followers on Instagram, which means something different on bands in town. Mm-hmm. .

How artists gain followers and how their fans are notified

Ari: So talk to me first off, how do. artists gain followers on bands in town or on the flip side, when and why and how does a fan choose to follow an artist on bands in town?

Fabrice: There are two ways. Mm-hmm. to gain followers now, or at least to, to, to follow an artist, let’s take it this way. Sure. You can manually track an artist, so, and follow such artist on Bens in town, you know, on the app, on the website. Mm-hmm. now we have a full logged in experience on the website. Um, and fans can also be recommended to track, uh, an artist. So that’s why I talk about the recommendation engineer because we, we help artists grow their following, their followers by the recommendation we make. And that’s how fans discover them. Um, contrary to indeed other platforms, we don’t filter messaging or push. So if you have one follower, you can reach that follower. It’s, there’s no, so it’s indeed not the case on, let’s say Instagram, where Right. You post, you may have like a million follower, but each post will only be seen by 6% or 5% of it. Right. So in that case, you know, your following is really 50,000, right? Right. So, uh, in, uh, with Benington, you, you do. Have, uh, and can reach all the, all of your followers now.

Ari: So, uh, theoretically, yes, you could reach all your followers, uh, you know, if they have, uh, notifications turned on on their phone and, and for a while I had notifications turned on on my phone. So I’d get those push notifications for all the bands that I follow. As a fan, I would see that so and so announced a tour, announce a concert in your area, all of that. If you don’t have notifications, turn on, you’re not really getting those notifications. I guess you might get an email whether you open that email or not. That’s another thing. So it’s, it’s not, you know, I guess everyone in the tech, the music tech space, uh, is trying to figure out that, that problem of how do artists reach fans. I do fully acknowledge what you’re saying and appreciate that you don’t intentionally squash. We reach like Instagram, uh, Facebook, and the others. In TikTok, but that’s huge. Eri e that’s huge. I I

Fabrice: Who does that? Yeah. Tell me who does that? Who else does that?

Ari: Right. So, well, Bandcamp does that too. I mean, there are platforms out there that do do that. Uh, yes, there are. Great, great.

Fabrice: How many follow, how many followers that band camp has total? You know, it, the, the,

Ari: Well, no, we’re not, I’m not, I’m not getting into competition here. I, I’m just, I’m not, I don’t care. I don’t, I I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t, I don’t care. Uh, what I care is, is I’m, I’m trying to find, you know, I’m always about like, let’s find the best solutions for artists. And, um, you know, like I said at the top, uh, I do appreciate that, uh, artists have a way to connect with their fans, and, and that’s great. And there are limited, uh, resources and available. But, so let’s, let’s talk about the discovery tool and, uh, no, if

Fabrice: I may, if I may, uh, sure. Add something to it. Um, I agree with you. It’s hard for artists to reach their followers in general, and that’s why we, a year and a half ago, um, started to do two things. One, We, we, we help artists send emails to their fans correctly. Mm-hmm. . Um, and so essentially a follower becomes almost like an optin. So in other words, we got the optin to, for the artist to reach the fan, and it still goes through the Bens and town platform, but everybody can, in each artist can reach all the fans. Mm-hmm. . Now, we added something new last year, which is that now when a new fan register or if the existing fans wants to opt in for it, the artist can actually, um, create a contact list and potentially, um, download such contact list and own such emails. And that’s my strong belief. And, and we do that for, same thing for phone numbers. Mm-hmm. , it’s my strong belief that there again, there’s no sustainable future without for owning first party data. In other words, yes, I recommend the artist. to, uh, get out of the platform, build their own community, and using their own contact list. Now what we, with Bens intern facilitate as a CRM platform is we enable them to not only stay in touch with their Bens intern following mm-hmm. but also to manage, to create their own contact list using our tools Yes. Is to email and manage such content list directly from the platform. Yes. But I hear you and I see where you’re going with these, uh, questions. Right. Totally. Right. It’s super important for the artist to build their assets for the future because Instagram may not be around forever. TikTok may be shut down of night, and that’s, I think it’s a very strong likelihood to be honest. Mm-hmm. . Uh, so, um, building your own following is absolutely key.

Ari: Yeah. And I’m curious about that. Uh, , no argument there. Building your own following off platform. Absolutely. I mean, you make a huge, very important point that, um, you can’t, you know, live by the platform, die by the platform. I think we, we see this time and time again. Uh, you know, I’m old enough to have lived through the MySpace era and we saw what happened with MySpace and then we saw what happened with the vine. We saw what happened with, with Facebook when they flipped the switch and you lost all your reach, you know? Yeah. And, uh, we’re seeing what’s, what’s happening with, uh, Instagram and TikTok, same kind of thing where you, you don’t get your reach. And so, you know, you do make an extremely important point that artists need to cultivate and, uh, engage with that audience off platform. And so, I, I, uh, if I’m getting this correct, I just wanna clarify, um, any artist that, I’m sorry. Any fan that opts in to follow that artist, that artist gets their email and phone number. .

Fabrice: So if it’s a new fund that joined the platform, um, you know, that joined the platform like a year ago mm-hmm. since a year ago. Yes. They, they may get the, the developed in for the artist to own and to be able to download therefore the, the, the data. Mm-hmm. . Okay. Uh, and if it’s, if it’s an existing fund that joined the platform before that fans can still opt in to, to a low artist to do so, but it’s still an opt-in. So it’s, it’s not, uh, exactly the same thing. Now, artists can message directly such funds, such followers using the tools that we provide them. So it’s, it’s not exactly a, a, an optune, but it very close to an. Yes.

Ari: Yeah. And, and grading concept. Now, you know, like I said, I’ve been a bands in town user, um, on both sides since the beginning. And I’ve just been kind of, um, going through some of my, uh, notifications just to kind of see, you know, like what this actually looks like in practice. Uh, because, you know, I’m getting the e artist emails, I’m getting the, the fan emails. Um, I, it, it doesn’t seem, now I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong, but, uh, it, it doesn’t, because I’ve been using it for so long. I’ve only gotten like a couple emails from bands in town over the last year. One announced a beach life festival, uh, from a month ago. Uh, another before that was from November saying I’m now following this band. And then another that was it. I don’t know if like, you know, uh, so why did my email frequency, I know you’re not customer technical support and that’s not what our conversation is gonna be about necessarily, but I’m curious your email strategy here, because like, uh, I have my push notifications that turn on and I get those frequently, but you’re talking about email, which I also think is super crucial. Um, you know, which of these emails am I getting as a fan? Uh, do I as an artist, do they have the ability to reach all of their fans through email that way or does that fan actually have to click like, I allow this artist to send me an email kind of a thing.

Fabrice: No, you should, uh, most fans who joins the platform, uh, except to receive emails. Okay? Now the reason why you may not have got emails. Is because you may have been inactive on emails and, and let me tell you something. Mm-hmm. We are very respectful of the best practice of the email platforms. We send so many emails every month that, uh, someone who doesn’t open an email over six months with us is considered to be, um, not reachable. Okay. And that’s super important. Uh, every fan, I mean, people use benington through their apps like you, for example. Yeah. Uh, others would use emails, other love the website, you know, and the mobile website, which, uh, is super cool too. Mm-hmm. . So we respect that. And that might be the explanation. Drink, you know, during Covid, uh, we could have lost the entire fan base. Mm-hmm. , including the people who installed the app. Right. And people who, um, you know, received the emails because during Covid there was no, technically there was no. in-person events. Right. And that’s why we, we, we’ve been so present. We pioneered, uh, livestreaming. We listed help promote a hundred thousand livestream. We produced ourself, uh, yes, including financially 1500 livestream, okay. With a channel that gathered 32 million, uh, viewers.

Ari: And that was through Twitch, right?

Fabrice: Twitch and our own, uh, livestream partner platform, which yeah, we’ve built our own platforms. Um, so all of this activity helped us stay in touch with our fans during that period of time. You may not have opened so many emails, uh, yourself during that period of time, for example, and that might explain why you are not receiving emails anymore. Now, if you, if you, you know, or check your preference because we also, you know, enabled you to opt out and maybe you did that in the past. So yeah, that might explain that. We send about, as I said, about 120 million emails a month. We get huge open rates. , um, like, like very, very significant ones, the best in the marketplace. And so it’s, it’s very efficient as a, as a what are, what are the open rates, you know? So if you, if you, you, you may know that Apple, uh, is inflating open rates. Uh, that’s days. But, uh, you know, prior to Apple, we were offering 25%, 75% open rates, you know? Great. So it’s very good.

Bandsintown discovery tools for emerging artists

Ari: And, and are you still doing, um, so I, I, I wanna get back to this discovery thing because I think for emerging artists that is so helpful. Um, Now help me understand the tools, uh, that artists can, um, take advantage of actively, but also what Bands InTown is doing for artists passively in helping, if you like this artist, you might like this artist kind of a thing that might be happening behind the scenes. Gimme both of those, uh, specifics of how they, they work. Yeah.

Fabrice: So artists have a whole set of tools that they can use to facilitate not only discovery, but your point alerting the fans, right? So if you add the widget and the API on the website mm-hmm. post, I see so many artists still posting jpeg on their, uh, socials. Uh, instead of if they, they, we offer them a free smart link that is automatically populated with events. Um, so these tools are free and artists can. Greatly increased actually the visibility of such, uh, events across all their properties with no efforts. Mm-hmm. , uh, once they’ve done that, as I said, the discovery factor is really the secret source of Bens in town. Yeah. And I would tend, if I may, to some, I’m, I’m glad you said that. We are doing a lot to help fans track the artists when they come to town and not miss them anymore. And you’re right, it’s a big issue. You not, not all the fans spend their time on socials trying to see their favorite artists come to town. Right. That being said, I think the main issue is discovery. Yes. Because we, in the music business, totally underestimates the fact that the most consumers, like your friend, your brother, or your, your cousins, ask them, they barely know who Phoebe Bridgers is. Mm-hmm. , they have no fucking clue of, you know, if you go below the top, 20.

Ari: Well, my friends too, but maybe, maybe your friends don’t . Yeah, of course. I don’t think I can throw a stone in the city of Los Angeles and hit somebody who doesn’t know who Phoebe Bridges is. Fine, fine. But maybe in Miami, Miami’s probably different. But anyway, fine. I continue with your point. Fine, fine.

Fabrice: It’s, it’s, it’s an, it’s easy. But yeah, I, I, I, you know, don’t underestimate mm-hmm. , I’m, I’m here. You know, we’ve been the fan base of 75 million people, the music industry and people like you and me totally underestimate how discovery important is, how important discovery is. And that’s, and because we believe that, oh yeah, you should know this, or you should know that, but that’s not how artists sell tickets. Artists sell tickets because they, they know how to sell them to them, sell them themselves. So discovery really matters, and that’s what we. We, we, with an algorithm, we analyze what your music preferences are. Mm-hmm. , we’ll deeply look into every piece of data you may want to share with us. Like buy, you know, you click on buy tickets, you click on R Z P, you’re gonna sync your Spotify profile, you’re gonna sync your YouTube account, you’re gonna do a number of things, okay? Mm-hmm. . And then once you’ve done, you’ve done that, then you, um, we, we know through machine learning and AI, how to create a whole, uh, music graph that represents your music preference and the artist you should discover. And that’s what makes the difference. And that’s why I was saying that we are so proud of, we send about, you know, you know, plus months we send 500,000 people buying tickets. Okay? Uh, which means that within a, within a year, it’s, um, I’m sorry, last month. Uh, start again. It, uh, yesterday, , we send 500,000 people buying tickets. We send about 10 to 15 million people buying tickets every month.

Ari: Okay. Wait, wait, let me, let me clarify these numbers. You’re saying yesterday in, in, uh, one day you sent Yes. A half a million people, essentially a half a million people per day, uh, are clicking a ticket link from bans, InTown Bans. InTown, of course, yeah. Got it. Okay. Okay.

Fabrice: That’s, yeah. So when you do, when you do that, you have to facilitate discovery and, and I’m always, my advice to the artist is like, don’t assume people know you and precisely don’t do the Los Angeles snob that you did five minutes ago, by saying, oh, everybody knows to give you. just be, let’s be very humble and let’s make sure that we explained and presented the fans the best side of the music, the best side of the artist.

Ari: Well, explain to me how, how this is work. Yeah, like I, I, I’m on board with a concept of, uh, let’s help fans discover new music. But, um, I, I don’t think anyone is against this idea, I think, but, but in practice, explain to me how, how specifically this works.

Fabrice: So we recommend, as I said, 33% of our recommendation of artists that you don’t follow. So in your emails, in your push notification on the app, there’s a section that says, recommended on the web. There are also a section that’s recommended for. You, you’ll, you may notice that a third to half of them are artists you don’t follow. Doesn’t mean you don’t know them. Because if we recommend them to you, we believe that it should be relevant to you. But yeah, at least you don’t follow them. Okay. And then that translates into actual ticket sold for artists. And, and the proof is in the pudding because when people buy tickets for artists of less than a hundred thousand follower, it means that they actually are, they probably, uh, clicked on this recommendation, researched the artist, listened to them on YouTube or whatever, and then eventually made the decision to buy that ticket. Yeah. Cause they like the music, you know? And that’s particularly important when all these big shows are sold out. You know, the big, big pop acts are selling out. And when recession hits, Or not. It really, really favors the smaller, smaller artists which are selling tickets for, you know, less expensive, uh, amount of money. And they’re also, um, uh, probably more, um, it’s easier to buy, to buy tickets for this artist. .

Ari: Yeah, I mean that, I guess that’s . I haven’t, I haven’t heard, uh, the positive take on, uh, what would happen to the live touring market, uh, if and when a recession comes. Um, so, so that’s, uh, I guess that’s my spin on it. Yeah. Hey, I will take that spin. Um, especially I think everybody listening by and large, uh, are artists or managers that manage artists with less than a hundred thousand followers. Um, so, so hopefully it will help the, the smaller artists, um, because, you know, we’re just trying to, we’re just trying to sell $20 tickets, not, you know, $250 tickets, like, you know, some of the big stars or more.

How Bandsintown tracks ticket sales from Ticketmaster data

Ari: Um, so how do you track tickets? Because Banson Town is not a ticketing platform. Mm-hmm. , uh, by and large, the vast majority of tickets are sold, you know, through Ticketmaster or AXS or whatever. Um, so how you work is. A fan. Um, what, so let me just step through the journey. Um, so a fan might go to an artist’s website, and the artist might have a bands in town widget embedded into their website. Mm-hmm. , there’s a, there’s a button that says tickets there. And so I, as a fan, I can click that button that says tickets, it takes me to the ticketing site. So you track that as in like, all right, that’s part of the 500,000 that you sent yesterday that clicked a ticket link and sent ’em to a ticketing site. We don’t know the conversion necessarily, cuz you don’t get that data from Ticketmaster, but also it could be through the app, it could be through somebody just going to bands in, exploring the recommended concerts. Is that correct? Am I missing anything?

Fabrice: I, I get a lot of data from the ticketing company. You do? Um, of course we do get data from the, because we are, look, we are the largest marketing partner of the ticketing companies in the us So from a digital standpoint, Benton moves more tickets than. , the big streaming platform that you might think of. Sure. So, so believe me, they’re, they’re very friendly with us and they share data that helps us be better, basically. So, not all of them, but they’re really trying to, uh, we, we, we are in the same boat, you know, on the same side, same side of the fence. Mm-hmm. . And I will tell you that, um, so for example, last year I saw what you to, to, to add to, to previous topic last year we saw that, um, relatively smaller, smaller acts, um, increased engagement, uh, by 70%, I think. So in which includes ticket clicks and R Z P, all that, what, that’s what I call engagements. Mm-hmm. Versus larger acts, you know, the, the, the 500,000 plus follower, which, um, only increase their engagement by 30%. So we, no, we do, we do have data from the ticketing companies that that tells us how. The traffic converts into ticket sold, and we also therefore can, can, you know, improve or, uh, that’s great. It more efficient.

Ari: I I, I, I love to hear when any platform is more transparent with those figures, um, I, I would assume they don’t give you the abilities to pass along those, because artists don’t get that, those that backend access, uh, or understanding like, you know, I, we, we, there’s nothing more than we want than Ticketmaster to give us our, our ticket buying fans email addresses, so we know who came to our show. Oh, okay. And bought a ticket to our show. That would be pretty amazing. That’s, that’s, um, that’s indeed a discussion that you need to have with the ticketing companies. Some do by the. Some doshare with some do Eventbrite, uh, you know, some of the more, uh, DIY ones. What’s that drop?

Fabrice: Uh, I don’t want to drop names, but some do. And also we are now introducing a new tech that helps artists, um, also check fans in during a show on site. Great. So that, uh, they can also collect first party data during. , that’s what we want. If, if, if people are interested, I happy to, it’s right now a beat the test phase. Mm-hmm. . Um, but you know, that’s something that, uh, we, we are happy to test, uh, right now.

Ari: I love that idea. I’m gonna take you up on testing that out at an upcoming show because, um, no, that’s, Yeah, that, that, that is actually something, I was just having a conversation with an artist last week about, as in like, you know, she’s got a big show coming up in LA and it’s just like, how do we make sure that we get every single person’s contact information that wa that, you know, is attending the show because they’re selling tickets through Ticketmaster. We don’t get that info. We’re like, all right, are we gonna do the text this number? You know, have a moment on stage where you’re like, everybody pull out your phones and text my name to this number and I’ll send you blah, blah, blah. Or do we have, you know, QR codes and you scan that? Or like, when, you know, uh, a merch package if you do this. But then we’re like, no, we should have somebody planted at the door. So we check every single person in. Um, and when you say you check ’em in, is that like in addition to getting their, their tickets scanned, then how does the system.

Fabrice: Yeah, it’s not related to the tickets. The, the, it’s it’s related to you. Can we, we offer various, uh, systems, which includes QR code and texting, but it’s, uh, it’s, it’s also nfc. So there’s, there’s different ways. We are right now testing it. It’s, um, it enables the fans to collect the digital collectible, which goes into the Benington app. Mm-hmm. And then, uh, you, you, the fans can get discounts or incentives at the merch table or Cool, you know, a lot of, uh, utility that artists wants to give them to. Mm-hmm. To get them to check

How an artist’s Bandsintown follower count connects to ticket sales

Ari: in. Cool. So, um, I wanna get back to this, this, uh, you’ve mentioned it a few times now. This, this follower number and how. P so many fans are buying tickets for, you know, uh, tickets from artists under a hundred thousand followers. Um, I, I still don’t quite have a grasp on what that means. Um, when, when we’re talking, we’re talking live, live concert space. So if you could relate this to tickets sold, that would be helpful, because just on my, I’ve been browsing artists and I see some artists have 150,000 followers, but they’re only selling, you know, they’re playing 500 cap rooms. I see that. But I also see mm-hmm. artists with 20,000 followers that are playing 2000 seated theaters. I, I don’t quite know how the bands in town follower number, uh, connects to types of rooms that they’re playing or tickets that they sell. Can you help me understand that?

Fabrice: It’s statistically you are, um, yes, you are. You are, um, seeing that an artist that started using Benington quite early, Yeah. Which means using the tools and, and, and nurturing this community indeed may have more followers than invents sometimes on Instagram. I see that it, it does happen. Yes. But it, it, there is, you know, it depends what genre of music. If the artist is more pop or is more niche. I mean it’s, it’s, it’s really all over the place to be honest with you. Okay. What I’m usually seeing is that the earlier you start, uh, the better you document also your accounts. So in other you add your, uh, all your, um, socials and you add a lot of things in the accounts, the more also Benington will be able to recommend you to the, to the rest of the fans to Yep. Discovery engine that I was describing. And therefore the more followers you may get, so the. For the artist where you see a big discrepancy between their actual size in the rest of the world, let’s say, uh, Instagram, Spotify, and Benington. It may mean that of you did not go much on tour. That happens, like you may have like a strong, especially during Covid, look, most of these discrepancies come from the Covid era where you had artists that streamed a lot, uh, YouTube or, or, or, and Rised Rose very fast on Spotify. Mm-hmm. or Rose on, on Instagram. Right. And or TikTok, you know, of course. Sure. So, you know, there’s definitely a lag with the Benington followers because then after Covid, they go on tour, they start to fund, starts to engage with them. , it, it’s, there’s a discrepancy. Mm-hmm. , it does happen. Mm-hmm. . Um, it also happens when you have a, I remember a artist who was a, a, an actor, so had a complete different life. Sure. And, and May wants to transition into music or do some music. And of course, the following on Instagram is much greater than Benington. So you may see this kind of situations. Um, now it’s, it’s, it’s takes time to build the following. On Benington, it’s probably more demanding than, than just Instagram. But Benington is great because it’s, it’s a transactional platform. Fans, um, mostly the super fans. They’re the concert girls. They’re ready to buy. . Uh, so even if the following is slightly smaller than on other platform, we’re not competing with Instagram, to be honest. We’re not a social network. Right. But we are definitely a platform that helps artists being discover and sell more merchant tickets, essentially. So I want to get back to, or, or announce, I now announce music, by the way, which widely used to announce music.

Ari: Yes. I, I’ve gotten push notifications from artists saying, I just dropped a new single and it’s coming through from the bands in town app. Um, and so I see that and, and that’s great and that’s helpful. Um, I, I, I, I’m keep, I’m getting back to discovery, um, and, and recommendations because I know that the majority of the people that are listening right now are indie artists and artist managers of emerging artists. Mm-hmm. . And they’re like, how do I get more people to discover, but, you know, discover my shows, discover me, but also to buy tickets.

Bandsintown discovery tools (continued)

Ari: So step me through a little bit more. In how this recommendation is, like how can a, if a, someone listening to this right now and they’re like, I, I’m active on bands in town. What do I do to get more fans not engaged with my current fans? Which we’ve already discussed. Understood, understood deeply, which is fantastic. And I encourage everybody who’s listening right now to use all the bands in town tools, they’re great. But let’s hit discovery. What can, what can I do? Yeah.

Fabrice: Um, so first of all, thank you. And, and by the way, it’s free. So, but it’s, uh, um, so we, we, I, I recommend to. Well, first of all, we have tutorials that you can find on the website. The web, the artist at benington website is super well documented, and there are, there are tutorials which I recommend, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. We give you tricks such as launching sweepstake competitions and many of the things that you may, uh, actually put in place on your social to increase your following and to start, um, getting new, new, uh, up obtains and followers. Mm-hmm. . So that’s, um, over hold. There are, there is, uh, strategies to do. So. My, my very much, my recognition is to really make sure that you have all the tools installed on the website, on the socials to use them consistently to message fans regularly. So not only when you go on tour, you’re about to go on tour, but to certainly do that on regular, um, on regular, um, regularly. I would also recommend to announce the date of the tour before the on sale. so that funds get this, um, on the widget, it’s, it, it goes automatically. Funds can, has to be notified when the mm-hmm. when the show is gonna go on sale. That’s a great way to, you know, acquire new, obtain and new followers. So, so you, you listed the date first. Uhhuh , the ticket links are not available yet. Instead of having a buy ticket, link the, the system, automatically you have nothing to do. Who was gonna say, notify me. Yep. And then when the show goes on sale, um, it’s switched automatically. You have nothing to do to buy tickets. And that’s, uh, and plus there’s a just announced that’s being sent automatically. There’s a number of market marketing automation that, that stops.

Ari: So the, those notifications aren’t just going out to the people who have already opted in and following the artists. What you’re saying is that these just announced shows, the show these notifications they’re going to hit, uh, fans who follow similar artists. Is that correct too?

Fabrice: Yeah. That’s, that’s based on the recommendation engine. We do that too. Yes. Okay. The, the just announced go to the followers. Oh, okay. But when, but, but, uh, it’s, they’re also listed in the, in the weekly discovery and you get the push notification weekly, and in that push notification plus in the weekly emails, there’s always, um, a large section that, that is about just an ounce of, uh, fans of similarities for sure. Hmm.

Email marketing campaigns to reach more fans of similiar sounding artists

Ari: Okay. Um, now I know you had this a few years ago. I don’t know if you still have it, but I’m also, um, . You know, previously there were marketing campaigns that artists could take advantage of where you’d like pay a bit of money and to send, to get bands in town, to send email blasts to similar artists. Um mm-hmm. , are you still doing that or are there any of those similar kinds of features that artists can actively do? As in saying, I wanna reach more fans of similar artists or something like that?

Fabrice: Yeah, yeah. We, we are absolutely not only still doing this, but it’s part of the business model of Bens in town. Oh, wow. So the way Bens in town works is that we, we are contributing value to the artist. The platform is free and the number of things are available to the artists, but we are extracting value from the industry that, you know, the promoters mainly, uh, event organizers. And potentially the, so if the artist wants to reach, uh, fans of similarities for discovery purposes and stuff on top of what we are already automating, yes they can. Mm-hmm. Um, and that’s the same recommendation engine that’s gonna be at work. So we will recommend an audience, an, an extended audience if you want, uh, that, that will be, uh, hopefully, uh, smart . Yeah. And that will, that will, uh, provide great, uh, returns. So typically artists use. Um, system to promote merch, for example, or to promote their new album or to, that’s, that’s labels use it as well to, to promote new albums. Um, when you want to expand the eco chamber of the artist, let’s say, which is usually the core flowing that, that are any way gonna buy, the merchant are gonna buy the, are following the artist on Instagram and stuff. Benington is a great option for sure.

Ari: How much, uh, how much, like where, where do artists find, uh, how to yeah. Engage in these marketing platforms? Sure.

Fabrice: So that’s in the benington for platform. Once you are logging into the dashboard, you have, um, a section that all relates to the, that enables that mm-hmm. . So you have the ability to send messaging for free, as I said, to your own followers. And then if you want to extend the audience, then you, you, you get the opportunity to, to pay for it.

Show promoters and the new norm of audience buying behavior

Ari: Got it. Okay. Okay. And then you mentioned promoters are using this. I’m curious, um, what types of promoters at what level are taking advantage of these time kinds of tools? You, you get two type of situations.

Fabrice: Either promoters wants to boost the on sale, and that’s a good, I think it’s a good, uh, strategy by the way. Um, because the strongest, the stronger the onsell is, the greater, or the chances that it’s gonna work. Mm-hmm. . So to, to, to create a strong, you know, push at Onsell is, is not a bad idea. Or promoters obviously use this platform to, uh, notify fans, you know, a few days or a week before the show, you know, that fans are buying tickets. Uh, always. Uh, now more and more. closer to the show. Mm-hmm. . Um, it used to be that fans were buying few weeks before, or if not sometimes, few months before. Now they are getting to even show that are super popular, may, uh, be, become sold out like a week before, two weeks before the show. It’s very stressful for promoters. Right. So we are here to help, right. So in that moment, and it’s great to, we, we send, um, an RSVP reminder, which is a, a for fans who bookmark their show or want, we call it RSVP or set a reminder. Mm-hmm. , uh, we do send them an automatic email saying, Hey, you know, are you still, are you still going to that show? Did you, did you, did you buy your tickets? Mm.

Ari: That’s great. Yeah, we did that. I, I, I want to touch on that point because, um, I’ve heard this now a bit from promoters, from agents, from managers, um, ticket buying behavior now versus pre covid. Yeah. Um, so you mentioned that fans aren’t buying as far in advance, uh, historically as they used to. They’re buying much closer to the show. Um, I, I heard that, you know, kind of end of last year. Are we, are we talking that that’s still the trend? Has it started to level out to pre covid levels or do you think this is the new buying behavior of No, that’s fans.

Fabrice: Yeah, that’s the new buying behavior.

Ari: Okay. So, um, people can, is that’s really hard to, to plan tours when you don’t know how tickets are going. I mean, I’ve talked to managers about, you know, pitching direct support artists are like, oh, well we’re gonna see how the on sale goes and how advanced tickets sales are going. I’m like, they’re not gonna go well until like a week or so before the show. Right. It started before Covid.

Fabrice: The reason why I’m convinced that it’s the new norm, it’s that it really started before Covid. Uh, I, I could have, uh, related to that in 2019, actually. So interesting. Yeah. It’s, it was, it was pretty clear. It accelerated of course after Covid because people, you know, may feel that they become sick, uh, before the show, and in case they hear, so that, that, that’s of course, uh, something that, that, um, is natural. Yeah. It’s, it’s the new norm for sure.

Advice for indie artists to increase their ticket sales and 2023 ticket buying trends

Ari: So I, I appreciate that you send out reminders. Um, what are some practical steps and tips that you can encourage artists to do actively to help make sure that they increase their ticket sales and get people out to the show? Okay,

Fabrice: Okay, so on average, I think that, um, fans need seven touch points. Seven touch points with the artist. To eventually buy the ticket. Okay. Um, so seven touchpoints means like, could be a social post, um, and retargeting, you know, like artists or promoters may by lookalike on Facebook. Mm-hmm. , uh, we facilitate that by the way. We, we mm-hmm. , you know, promoters who by campaigns on Benington can also buy, uh, some, um, you know, data to, to retarget on, on socials. Um, then there’s an email that can, there, there are automated emails from Benington, which add to the number of touchpoints. Yeah. It’s always great for the artists to send, uh, under their own voice an email to the fans or push notification. Yep. Uh, we facilitate that. It’s free. they can use. Um, the, the, it’s a very easy, um, WY Week platform. You, you, it’s, it’s, you drag and drop, uh, you know, pictures and music links and tours and these emails using the Bens in to mill platform. Mm-hmm. . And that’s, um, yeah. So thinking that it’s not only about sending one campaign and credit that it’s gonna open and convert, I think it’s really doing like, almost like a drum, uh, like to drum the and announce the show is, is, I think, is advised yes.

Ari: Mm-hmm. . No, that’s really important. I mean, that, that’s seven touchpoints. That’s a, that’s a, the rule of seven. That’s a marketing, that’s a studied, researched, uh, marketing tactic that it, yeah. The consumer needs seven touchpoints to buy. So those are really great ideas, um, to, to kind of help, um, you know, encourage that. Um, so I, I guess what are some other trends that you’re noticing other than fans buying tickets closer to the date, uh, that you’ve just seen kind of post covid that have really changed, um, the behavior of, of the, yes. Look, that good news.

Fabrice: For the smaller acts, as I said. Sure. We touched upon that. Um, for example, did you know that smaller acts did, uh, um, or played 15% more shows, uh, than, uh, in 2019 on average? So that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s I think it’s, it’s an interesting data points because it shows more shows in 2022 than they did in 2019. 2019.

Ari: Yes. Interesting. Okay. Yeah. Coming back with pages.

Fabrice: Yeah. . And that’s, that’s, that’s good because they, that shows that the market is growing for everybody. Um, and that, that’s one of the strong trend. I, I can see for the first time a lot of, um, um, positive. For the smaller acts in live music. Yep. Uh, I know, I know that, you know, rising, I know about rising cost of tourings. I know that it’s hard to tour and I respect that immensely. That’s why we are very humble in trying to help. Yep. But the good news is that, uh, there’s never been more interest than today for the small act. Mm. They are, they are touring more often. They’re selling more tickets and, and in overhaul they have a greater opportunity. So that’s, that’s the whole trend I see. That post covid. I think it’s gonna continue to, now if you want another trend, obviously the, you know, inflation al also applies to, uh, ticket price. Mm-hmm. , um, I can, I think that tickets on average will increase by 20%, if not much more. Sure. Um, this year. . Mm-hmm. . And that’s, that’s gonna impact everybody of course.

Ari: Are you seeing that the ticket sales are keeping up with the shows performed that you said emerging artists have performed however many percent. 20, what was it, 15% more shows in 2022 than in 2019. Are they selling that many more tickets as well? Has that kept pace?

Fabrice: Yes. And, and, and what’s striking actually is that smaller shows, uh, get to sell out while they, they used to not sell out and, you know, wow. Think about, um, the, the, the big arena theaters. Uh, EMPH theaters. These, these, these arenas, these, uh, venues are, sorry. Mm-hmm. . Yes. They, they, they used to sold out to sell out to before Covid for sure. And mm-hmm. and, you know, it was pretty common that you may hear that Medicine Square Garden get sold out now Irving Plaza, think about the smaller venues, or in Los Angeles, I dunno. Sure. Uh, film or whatever. They, these venues, they didn’t set out. Um, it was not, it was not so common and you could always find the tickets. Um, I think what’s new is that yes, there’s so much demand. People are so excited to go back to live that, um, these shows set out too. There’s no question about that. You know?

Ari: Yeah, I mean, I would love to see that data because, um, I have heard, uh, contrary things, I, I’ve heard the complete opposite actually. I, I’ve heard that the big shows have no problem. Harry Styles has no problem selling out the arenas, but we’re seeing the small to mid-level touring artists that are actually having a. Challenge much, much harder time now selling tickets because the market is so much more saturated. Like you said, everybody’s on tour and previously a fan might have only had, you know, gone and seen two shows a month, three shows a month, and maybe they only had five that they wanted to see, but now there’s 15 shows they wanna see this month cuz everybody’s on tour, everybody’s on the road. No. So yes, ticket, you know, more shows are happening, but you’re really seeing that and and are you verifying this with the smaller venues we’re talking, you’ve mentioned Irving Plaza, that’s an 1100 cat venue in New York. Yes. They’re more shows are now sold out in 20 22, 20 23 than were in 2019. That’s verified. Yeah, I think I,

Fabrice: I think, I think yes. The not what I’m saying is that you, you are seeing such venues which are of smaller capacity, be able to sell out shows. I’m not saying that it’s statistically true, that they are more, they are selling out. More shows than they used to in 2019. I’m, I’m just saying that it was very unlikely in fact that some, some of these venues we were selling out children there, it was a massive end play, which obviously is a different case, right? It’s a different story. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so now let me comment on your, um, yeah, of course. There is more competition. Uh, there is a lot of people that thought that they had to go out on tour, they wanted to go out on tour, they couldn’t stand being locked up, . Uh, and so for many reasons there was a lot of offer for sure. There’s no question about that too. Now, the, this unprecedented level of offer was definitely matched by unprecedented level of demand. And I think that this year it’s gonna be sa the same thing. I I I, look, we, we’ve seen an incredible start for January, um, with 50% more engagement than last year, 50%. . So I don’t know if this is gonna be sustainable, but we see a lot of, uh, demand on the fan side trying to book, book shows and, and, and look up for and look out for tickets.

Ari: Okay. That’s a good indicator. So in January of 2023, you’re saying there was 50% more engagement from fans, uh, engaging on bands in town, meaning that they’re actively looking for shows to attend than, than was Sure. A year prior in January, 2022.

Fabrice: Exactly, yes, you got it.

Ari: That’s a good indicator. I mean, we all wanna see that trend. We wanna see it move in that direction. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s hard times out there for touring artists of every level. Uh, I guess, well, small to mid-level the, the superstars. I mean, you know, even, I mean, Lord hell, she even wrote a piece of how hard it is to tour and even at her level, it’s, it’s challenging, um, because of inflation, because of ticket prices, because of, uh, saturation. Everybody’s on tour and all that stuff, you know, so, I, um, I do hope that, uh, it is getting better for the small to mid-level artists, uh, in the touring market. Yeah.

Fabrice: Yeah. And, and look, what we also see is that, uh, indeed, um, it’s harder for smaller acts to increase price than Sure. Than for a large act. And, and I’m not even talking about resale, so, but that’s, that’s a fact. And, and yes, um, cost are, you know, rising a lot. Um, so. I can see a very challenging year this Ticketmaster hearing and the future of touring sustainability year for sure.

Ticketmaster hearing and the future of touring sustainability

Ari: Yeah. And not to mention, uh, you know, all of the fees that Ticketmaster and Live Nation tack on, and we won’t get into that. That’s a whole other discussion, and I encourage everybody to go listen to, um, the, the hearing in front of Congress that they just had with, with Live Nation and Ticketmaster. In, in Clyde, Lawrence spoke very eloquently about, uh, how that whole model is completely messed up for artists and how, um, you know, artists should be, uh, participating in more of what the fan actually pays for a ticket. That would help, I think, the touring market overall, meaning if you know. We, if we charge $20 and that’s the face value ticket, but Ticketmaster decides to tack on $15 in fees. The artist unfortunately doesn’t see any of that $15. Uh, but the venue and the promoter do. And that’s a big problem. And hopefully, you know, that, uh, will get worked out this year where, where either artists can participate in the fee fees, which they never are able to, or they just do away with these fees and we come up with a different business model because it’s just, it’s just not sustainable anymore.

Fabrice: Ari, I, my role is as a platform is really to help the artists, um, keep, keep hope and, and also succeed eventually. Yep. We, we, I’m not, you know, I respect immensely. It’s so hard to be an artist and it’s so hard to be an artist on tour. So by providing our tools, we modestly try to facilitate that. Yes. Um, then indeed it takes a lot of, many more pieces to be successful. Yep. But at the core, nurturing a fan base, uh, being able to interact with the fan base and continue to launch new, uh, merch and, and albums, you know, essentially build a lifecycle for the artist. Mm. Is super important. It’s an important component of the success. Yes. I’m not, I’m not saying that the rest of the items that you mentioned, the business model with the venues or the ticketing companies, uh, don’t matter. It’s su it’s, uh, the other, it’s very important. Yes. But, um, I, I, I think that in term of focus, I, I see, um, I see that artists now realize, I think that there’s an awakening on the needs to. Closely connect with the fans, uh, to build them. Uh, you. Database of first party data, emails, phone number to, um, interact, interact with Sun fans, with those fans in a very innovative manner. Um, you know, organizing, maybe meeting grids or launching vinyls or doing other things. Yeah. To monetize essentially the artist brand. That’s, you know, that’s a big part of, of the success. But yes. The rest obviously, sure.

Ari: No, and we, you know, yes, absolutely. And you appreciate, uh, all the tours that bands in town are, is providing. And I encourage every artist, you know, if you’re not actively using them to go check ’em out, because like you said, most of ’em, by and large, are free. Uh, which is very helpful. Um, and you know what’s also cool, which we didn’t really touch on, um, is, uh, because. Bands in town pulls from so many ticketing platforms. You’re able, you list shows oftentimes whether the artist actively puts it up or not, uh, which is cool. And so sometimes, like, you know, I’ll get, uh, a notification about an artist that I managed because their tickets went on sale and you pulled the information from the ticketing platform, like, oh yeah, I forgot to put that show up on Bans InTown. But Bans InTown already gathered all the information, which is great because you’re gathering that info from all different sources, which is, which is helpful.

Fabrice: Yeah, we do, we do. It’s, it’s uh, I call it the soup. So there are a lot of ingredients in that soup, and we gather information first and foremost from the artist, by the way. Yes. Which keep and retains full control if you want to. So there’s always, there’s a toggle that says or to publish or not. So if you don’t want that to happen, yeah, that doesn’t happen. But you, you. To remember that if you toggle off auto publish, then you have to come to the platform to publish these shows, otherwise it’s not gonna go out. Cool. Uh, and then, um, yes, we, we get the information from the event promoters, uh, from, um, from the ticketing companies of course. And we, we, we, uh, streamline and we synchronize all this information so that it’s for the fans, it’s as relevant as possible. Now, let me tell you something to tie back to my previous comment on building a fan base, I think artists gain leverage over the ecosystem if they control their fan base. So, and that goes back to your, to your point about getting the emails of the fans attending the shows and everything. Yep. If anything, you know, building that, that fan base, that following or collecting first party data using our tools, Is is a, a strong argument. I think it’s a strong point when you get to negotiate a deal. Sure. With a promoter or with a ticketing company. Yes. And so I would say it this way, um, that’s, I was trying to express that earlier, but I think I was not as clear as that. I think it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s possible to gain leverage of a Decosystem. , definitely.

Ari: That’s a great point. Um, yeah, like, uh, when I’m negotiating with the show and I can tell, uh, like with a promoter or a, uh, a talent buyer in Chicago and I can be like, Hey, I have 2000 email addresses from my fans in Chicago. That is actually much more valuable than just saying I have 2000 listeners on Spotify in Chicago because I can actually reach the people with, have email addresses. I can’t reach ’em if they’re just listening on Spotify, of course, and smart promoter will ask you, how many Bens in town follower do you have in Chicago?

Fabrice: Because they know that you can reach them. Smart Pro promoter will also check your past data, so they’ll check in Chicago last time you play. What was the capacity of the room? They find that on Bens in town. And then what, how many RSVPs did you get? And I always recommend to artists to check the ratio of, uh, the number of RSVPs over the capacity of the venue. Mm. Because that tells a lot about the level of engagement they get in each city. And that may help them sell. If you want the, to the venue, to the promoter or the opportunities, they may say, look, last time I played, you know, in venues that Ben, you know, in venues of 500 to 2000 cap mm-hmm. is a great chance that Benin term probably got you, um, 10 to 20% of the capacity as RDPs, which suggests we, that doesn’t, and we probably help sell 10% of the tickets. That’s my. 10 in bigger venues like MSS G is gonna drop to 5% . Sure, sure. But it’s, that’s, you know, call it between 10 to 20% for, for relatively, uh, 500 to 2000 cab venues. Yep. Now, if you show that to the promoter, you have leverage because you can contact all these RSVPs for free on Benington that’s announced. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . You can message them and say, Hey, you are RSVP to my show a year ago in Chicago. I’m doing another show. Do you want to come? Yes. Yes. And that’s, that’s as super easy to do. Yes. And that gives you a lot of leverage to sell that show to the promoter.

What does it mean to you to make it in the New Music Business?

Ari: Fantastic. Super helpful, great tips. Well far, beast. This has been a very illuminating conversation. I think a lot of artists, uh, you know, uh, appreciate hearing your perspective. Uh, managers appreciate it, you know, top, top level, uh, trends. Also down to the nitty gritty of, of how to set this stuff up and engage your fans, uh, because that’s what we’re doing. You know, a lot of artists are out here DIYing it, trying to figure this out, and managers are doing it themselves and, and we need to know like, how are we gonna sell more tickets? And so being, you know, tuned on to these practical tips and tools of how to actually do that is so helpful. Um, I I have one final question that I ask everyone who comes on the show, and that is, what does it mean to you to make it in the new music business?

Fabrice: Look, you heard me. I’m get animated, I get passionate, and sometimes in my ins answers, I can be a little bit strong. But what keeps me awake at night? What, what, what is to, for me to make it in the music business? is to help the emerging artists succeed and build a sustainable future. I, I, I think that look, live music is one of the last resorts for freedom of speech. I feel that it’s a different part of culture. It’s completely different from tv, movie, or even book writing because in all this part of culture, you have few people that decide what can go on or off in live music, you can jump on stage and say whatever you want, at least in this country. And so I feel that it’s a key component for diversity in culture and cultural diversity. Hmm. So my, my, we hum humbly contribute to that and, and you know, for every single push or help that we provide, that’s what I call Making it in, in, in music.

Ari: Love it. Thank you so much. That was great.

Fabrice: Thanks Ari.


About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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