Fixing The Broken Backend of Music Touring

Event Tech Brief

Fixing The Broken Backend of Music Touring



By Michelle Bruno

Barry Griffin and his colleagues at Crank Media Intelligence are on the verge of transforming an entire industry. By automating a tedious, mind-numbing manual process, Crank, a b-to-b platform for managing the backend of the music and entertainment industry, is poised to change the way concerts and other ticketed events are planned.

Even though technology moves quickly in this “there’s an app for that” world, a very large pain point for the teams behind touring artists has been ignored until now. The only output of the go-to database that lies at the center of the touring ecosystem is an Excel spreadsheet.

The most popular resource (used to monitor airplay for artists’ royalty purposes) produces song charts (think the Top 40 Hits) and monitors the songs and artists at more than 1,800 radio stations nationwide. It also monitors HD formats, video channels, and satellite radio. While innumerable spreadsheets are available to the service’s subscribers, it’s cumbersome to sift through data in this format.

There are other limitations too. The data currently available only covers the U.S. and Canada, a major shortcoming since 60 percent of the touring revenue garnered by major artists comes from outside North America. It also doesn’t cross reference tour dates and venues with airplay—a critical data point for tour promoters.

Airplay data—which songs are played when and on which radio/satellite stations—is at the center of tour planning and promotion:

Artists (represented by booking agents or managers) look at airplay to determine where to book concert dates. Airplay drives awareness, which drives ticket sales—a portion of which often goes to the artist in addition to a guaranteed fee for appearing.

Concert promoters (independent presenting companies or individuals who work at concert venues) use airplay to determine where (which radio stations) to invest their promotional capital—free concert tickets exchanged for on-air mentions of the concert—to drive ticket sales.

Record companies view airplay as a success metric. Their representatives increase the awareness (and airplay) of the artists under contract by offering meet-and-greet opportunities and interviews (with artists) to radio stations. The stations often bundle meet and greets with free tickets from promoters.

Simplifying A Tiresome Process

Crank aims to aggregate all of the data that booking agents, promoters, record companies and venues need to support a tour in North America and 50 countries worldwide, and display it graphically. So, instead of columns and rows of numbers and names that have to be compared and contrasted manually, Crank features “drag-and-drop symbols, icons, colors, shapes, and heat maps,” Griffin says.

By fully digitizing the information, Crank can apply filters and make different combinations of data—the history of a song’s airplay by radio station, market or country, all of an artist’s airplay across all of the radio stations in the same city, airplay during specific tour dates, etc.—available through customized feeds. Access to the basic platform is free. Subscription fees apply for custom feeds.

Crank is also a communication platform that allows promoters, record companies, and radio stations to coordinate activities like meet and greets and ticket giveaways. Previously, Griffin says, the process was handled through phone calls and emails exchanged between the three separate groups.

Moving Beyond Music

The transformation that Crank is orchestrating isn’t only applicable to music. It has the potential to enhance promotion for public events of all kinds—from Disney on Ice to home-and-garden shows to sporting events. “These events take place often in the same buildings [as concerts] and are promoted the same way,” Griffin explains.

Crank can also expand the types of artists that can benefit. The promotion of celebrity tours and appearances for people like Jack Hanna (wildlife advocate and Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium), Theresa Caputo (The Long Island Medium) or Jeff Lewis (real estate speculator) from the Bravo Channel’s “Flipping Out” show can be managed as easily as concert promotion for Bruce Springsteen.

Besides concert promoters and event planners, convention and visitor’s bureaux, tourism offices, and destination marketing organizations could also use Crank to view all of the events planned for their cities within certain timeframes. The platform provides them with opportunities for colocation, cross-promotion and extended guest stays.

Opening the Digital Doors

Crank makes it possible to distribute tickets (using geo-targeting) to events of all types in exchange for promotional consideration on digital music and television platforms, such as Spotify, Google Play, Hulu, and others. It gives organizers, promoters, and venues access to channels (for event promotion and sponsor activations) that were previously unavailable to them.

It’s not inconceivable that other types of data feeds will be added to Crank in the future, Griffin says. Demographic information (age groups, household incomes, gender), listenership, and viewership—data that radio stations, cable and other digital channels already have—is extremely useful to event organizers looking for viable destinations for their events.

Griffin, a 20-year veteran of record labels like RCA, Polydor, Chrysalis, and Geffen is leading a team of software engineers and music-industry veterans toward a launch date in 2017. When Crank debuts, it will take the music industry, “which is so technologically deficient, it’s beyond belief,” Griffin, says, to a new level and, quite possibly, public events, celebrities, and planners of all kinds with it.

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