Eventbrite | Customer Success Story

How Aussie Music Venues Are Growing Their Business on Eventbrite

Australia’s live music scene is changing. Rising rents, urban development, and competition from multinational groups have put the squeeze on small and medium music venues. To survive and thrive, these venues need to stay ahead of the competition. They need to secure profitable partnerships and build a loyal crowd of fans. Most importantly, they need to make it easier than ever for music fans to discover their gigs and buy tickets.

Local operators of some of the country’s most iconic music venues like Corner Presents (Corner Hotel, Northcote Social Club), Cult Leader (Cherry Bar, Yah Yahs), Night Cat, The Happy Horsemen (Black Bear Lodge, The Brightside), and Division Agency (Seadeck, Goodbar) rely on Eventbrite to not just deliver ticketing — but a complete solution that arms them with the right tools and data to conquer event marketing, boost sales, and attract promoters.

Here’s how two of those operators, Cult Leader and The Happy Horsemen, are connecting with fans and growing their business.

“We’re running more than 10 shows a week, so things need to move quickly. With better insight, we run a better business.”

Nicholas Jones, Director of Cult Leader (Cherry Bar, Yah Yahs)

The Challenge:

Music may be an art, but there’s also a science to running a live music business. Venue operators are flooded with decisions they need to make around artist bookings, staffing, ticket sales, bar stock, marketing, and day-to-day operations. With the survival of their venues on the line, it pays to make informed decisions to stay in the black.

The challenge for live music venues has been capturing the information they need to take the guesswork out of these decisions. Data is often fractured between online sales, box office, paper guest lists, and marketing channels. This means hours of manual work is required to get insight into your business — a process too time-consuming to be of value before the next event.

Without the right technology, common challenges for live music venues include:

• Reliance on paper guest lists with manual entry required to gain insights

• Difficulty overseeing the live status of multiple venues

• The risk of sending inaccurate results to music partners

• Heavy reliance on door sales, losing opt-in customer data and inhibiting planning

• Poor visibility on which marketing channels are driving ticket sales

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The Solution:

For Nicholas Jones, Director of Cult Leader and operator of Melbourne venues Cherry Bar and Yah Yah’s, working with an online ticketing platform that still used paper guests lists “didn’t make sense” for their business. Cult Leader moved their venue ticketing to Eventbrite to streamline operations and gain actionable insights by accessing data in one place.

“We didn’t like that door sales and pre-sales were separate with our old ticketing provider,” explains Jones. “Using printed guest lists and tally sheets seemed so archaic with the technology that is available these days. We were looking for a product that could merge our pre-sale information with box office and door sales. Eventbrite not only makes life easier for staff, it also gives us valuable insights that help us run our business.”

Jesse Barbera, Co-Founder of The Happy Horsemen, agrees. His team recently switched to Eventbrite to manage their two Brisbane venues and drive the business forward as they grow. Barbera explains, “We have a new venue about to open in Melbourne, with plans for many more. We needed a ticketing partner that would work with us on our vision and help us scale.”

These live music venues needed a partner to help them:

• Gain better insights for smarter programming

• Manage on-site operations 24/7, anywhere in the world

• Amplify tickets to sell out

• Build credibility with booking agents and promoters

Better insights for smarter planning and programming

Data is the closest thing we have to predicting the future. It can help music venues make informed, unbiased decisions on everything from staffing to programming. For Nicholas Jones at Cult Leader, having immediate access to Eventbrite’s reliable insights has de-stressed venue operations, helping him to:

• Make better programming decisions and book artists that draw a crowd

• Access instant and accurate insights from integrated reporting — while freeing up the hours venue managers spent creating manual reports

• Determine staffing ratios to keep labour costs in check

When staff at Cherry Bar and Yah Yah’s use the Eventbrite Organiser App to check guests in quickly on arrival, their check-in data instantly integrates with Eventbrite reporting. This builds a complete picture of how those fans are engaging with the business, allowing venues to make smarter programming and planning decisions.

Jones explains. “Check-in data gives us great insight for programming. For example, if we see that the majority of people arrive just before the headliner, we know to revisit the support acts. But if we notice that early arrivals spike for a particular act, we can be confident that they will draw enough of a crowd to be invited back or even perform their own show.”

Establishing a venue’s traffic patterns also helps you plan more accurate staffing ratios, to minimise overspending on wage costs. “Looking at data over time, we can accurately predict how many staff we will need — and when we’ll need them,” says Jones.

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Managing on-site operations, off-site

For businesses like Cult Leader, which operates two venues with shows on the same night, staying on top of all sides of the business can be challenging. Before switching to Eventbrite, Jones had to call his venue to find out how door sales were tracking.

“Using the Organiser App, I can work remotely and manage multiple venues from my lounge room. Instead of calling during peak times and bugging the venue managers, I can keep an eye on door sales from my phone,” says Jones. “If I need to add someone to the guestlist, I can do that instantly from the app. Not only does it save me a ton of time personally, it’s easier on my venue staff too.”

Amplifying ticket sales to sell out shows

Over the past decade, music consumption has moved online — and so have venue marketing budgets. It makes sense for venues to promote gigs where their fans can be found. That’s where event distribution comes in — selling tickets across the web without redirecting to a third-party ticketing page.

Cherry Bar and Yah Yah’s have a combined Facebook following of over 96,000 fans. Thanks to the Eventbrite integration with Facebook, these fans can buy tickets as soon as they hear about an event — without leaving the platform. Cherry Bar calls this as a “game-changer” for ticket sales, selling out more shows than ever before. The venue sells 12% of all tickets through Facebook Checkout and has seen an average increase in pre-sales of 20-30% per show.

“We’re selling out more shows than ever before. Our pre-sales have increased by an average of 20-30% per show. This is money in the bank for our venues. It’s been a game-changer.”

Nicholas Jones, Director of Cult Leader (Cherry Bar, Yah Yahs)

It’s not just Facebook driving this growth. Eventbrite helps organisers sell tickets and list their events on multiple platforms across the web and reach Eventbrite’s 75 million active ticket buyers. For example, Cherry Bar recently hosted a single launch for Melbourne band, The Pretty Littles. The show was a sell-out and 40% of all tickets were purchased from Eventbrite’s automated distribution channels. Instead of being directed to a separate ticketing page, fans purchased directly from Facebook Checkout,Songkick, Spotify, and the Eventbrite app. Without event distribution, most of these tickets would have been sold on the door — or not at all.

By selling more tickets ahead of time, venues like Cherry Bar and Yah Yahs can make smarter decisions based on anticipated capacity. “Online ticket sales mean a lot to the success of a live music venue. We get more customer information, allowing us to increase future sales with opt-in data. You lose that when just people rock up at the door. Fans with tickets are also more committed to coming, which supports our planning and profitability as a business,” says Jones.

The ability to build a loyal fan following and integrate ticketing into digital marketing is one of the reasons The Happy Horsemen made the switch to Eventbrite ticketing for their venues, Black Bear Lodge and The Brightside . Barbera explains, “We rely heavily on digital marketing to promote our music venues. Social media takes up around 80% of this, with the rest falling on venue newsletters — we don’t run any traditional advertising or media.”

“No one else had their finger on the pulse on what small to medium venues really needed to support their investment in programming and marketing. Eventbrite gets it. We can now integrate our social media marketing and eDMs into our event ticketing and make better decisions, supported by data.”

Jesse Barbera, Co-Founder of The Happy Horsemen (Black Bear Lodge, The Brightside)

Building credibility with promoters and booking agents

It’s no secret that the music industry is cut-throat. For independent venues, there’s increasing competition from bigger players in the market (with deeper pockets) moving downmarket.

The only way for smaller venues to remain competitive and continue attracting top talent is to maintain strong relationships with booking agents. And what’s the best way to do that? Prove your venue can help them turn a profit.

“How we present ourselves to promoters is really important,” says Barbera. “Using a professional, intuitive platform that integrates with our marketing efforts is a big part of that. If we can demonstrate that we’re selling more tickets, they will book more shows. We chose to work with Eventbrite because they can provide that.”

Jones agrees. “I like transparency when building relationships with our music partners. We send booking agents and talent managers a report after every show,” he says.

“Our venue managers used to manually type up tally sheets and translate paper reports into revenue. But pieces of paper have a high degree of error, and they don’t provide information outside whether or not a person showed up. Now we can pull all our data in one place. It’s removed the manual process and builds credibility with promoters and agents.”

Nicholas Jones, Director of Cult Leader (Cherry Bar, Yah Yahs)

Amplify your ticket sales. Control the chaos.

Are you ready to join our family of venues and promoters? Get in touch with one of our music experts to find out how Eventbrite could power your live music business.

or give us a call at 1800 820 172

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