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  • The Spark of Reason

Booking Tribute Artists for Maximum Reward and Minimum Risk

Whether you are a tribute artist or talent buyer, you should understand the market and risk for bookings. The risk assumed by booking a band in a given venue is a function of several factors:

  • The draw of the band by the local audience

  • The typical audience demographic of the venue

  • The revenue model and customer loyalty to the venue

For instance, some venues feature a slate of original bands certain nights of the week. These venues probably have a high rate of repeat customers who just like new music, and the audience demographics tend to be younger with less disposable income to spend on tickets, food, and alcohol. The venue may mitigate their risk by having the band purchase and resell tickets, doing their own publicity, and so forth.

A tribute artist presents a different market risk profile. Unlike most original artists, tributes have pre-existing markets, established by the original artists. Most tributes are for “classic” bands, with a large established following worldwide. The demographics are skewed toward on older audience, likely with more disposable income, which in turn supports venues which can derive revenue streams from secondary sales, such as food and alcohol. The per-ticket revenue is likely then to be higher than when booking a relatively unknown original band.

Tribute artists give venues a powerful lever for moving the risk/reward ratio in their favor, through the combination of a pre-existing fan-base and targeted marketing afforded by social media. Maximize conversion rates for bookings and marketing campaigns by carefully choosing tribute artists which

  1. Have a large fan-base in your region

  2. Have some pedigree or other “signalling” to tell fans they will receive an “authentic” experience for their favorite artist.

Point 2 is important: fans want that “authentic experience”, as evidenced by how much they’ll pay for concert tickets to see the actual artist. But being strong fans, they really know their artist, and the tribute had better provide the promised experience. See this video for an example of how you want fans to react.

The established market and press coverage for the artist being tributed is the key to improving the return-on-investment for your marketing efforts. The audience is already sold on that artist, you just need to identify them and draw them in for the tribute show. Leveraging current news can be helpful. Major international artists tend to be in the news, and certain events like the postponement or cancellation of tour dates provides not only free publicity but a hook for a show featuring a tribute for that artist.

Social media provides an ideal platform for advertising specifically targeting fans of the tributed artist in your geographic region. Social media platforms leverage artificial intelligence and data mining to categorize users by where they live and their entertainment preferences. So, for example, it’s pretty straightforward for Facebook to identify a “lookalike audience” who a), live driving distance from Los Angeles, b) are established Ozzy Osbourne fans, and c), spend money on live music. And for a relatively small amount of money, you can target the lookalike audience of these preselected potential customers.

Let’s consider an example. Checking the internet for ticket prices of the (currently postponed) “No More Tours II” tour by Ozzy Osbourne, decent seats easily cost upward of $150 apiece. That roughly sets the market value for “the Ozzy experience”, up close and personal. Suppose you marketed an Ozzy tribute band to that same ticket buyer (assuming they thought they were going to get something close to the real “Ozzy experience”). $20/ticket is going to feel inexpensive, and they probably bring a friend or significant other, and buy food and drinks. They could easily spend $100+ per ticket, not only getting the “Ozzy experience”, but a sit-down dinner and decent drinks, (as opposed to a $15 dollar hot dog and $10 warm light beer).

Now let’s think about marketing risk. Consider the social media marketing discussed above, say at a total budget of $500 to reach fans identified by the platform artificial intelligence as fans of Ozzy Osbourne. Facebook estimates that, for this budget spent over 10 days, the "lookalike audience" for the profile above would reach 11,000 to 48,000 people per day. Let's be conservative, and say on average it reaches 20,000. You need to convert half a customer per day to break even on expected gross revenue, a conversion rate of only 0.0025%. Suppose you converted even 10x break-even, or 0.025% (conservative given that the advertising is targeted to Ozzy fans). A single 10-day campaign would result in 50 ticket sales, which at an expected total spend of $100/ticket yields expected gross revenues of $5000, at a cost of $500. And of course, with a broader marketing effort e.g. coordinated with current press about the artist being tributed, this could be much higher. All of this illustrates the leverage provided when working with a tribute artist with a large built-in fan-base for the artist they perform.

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