From utility to community: unlocking growth in the personalization era
“In my opinion, personalization is the key to success for most products and services.”
-Valentine Aseyo, Senior Vice President of Product, Bandsintown
Bandsintown is a platform for music fans to discover live music events, new sounds, and opportunities to connect with their favourite artists. Valentine Aseyo is the SVP of Product who firmly believes that the platform’s success can be attributed to its extreme level of personalization.
This in combination with the experience of connecting users with their favourite artists and the rest of the music community is what has helped it achieve its high level of growth. Valentine walks through the evolution of the elements that make up the successful app, including:
- The platform and community that connect on and offline experiences
- Extremely personalized content, curated by machine learning
- How the team measures and values customer happiness
With a reach of 130M Monthly Active fans globally, 40M registered concert goers and 450k touring artists registered to the platform, Bandsintown offers digital marketing solutions to engage with the most passionate music fans.
The popular app was started by music lovers who were frustrated with the absence of a platform that could connect them with live music events in their community. Since then, Bandsintown has been an amazing contribution to the tech and music world with its groundbreaking machine learning and personalized recommendations engine. Crunching millions of data points everyday, the app is a wealth of resources for fans and musicians alike.
In addition to notifying fans when their favourite musicians are in town, Bandsintown’s claim to fame is its ability to connect artists with their fans. It’s really difficult to break out for a smaller band or up-and-coming artist, and Bandsintown gives them a voice and a platform to market their concerts.
Roughly 40% of concert tickets go unsold every year because fans didn’t know their favorite artist was in town. Bandsintown helps musicians, promoters, organizers, and ticketing companies to close this gap so all shows are sold out no matter how big or small a performer is.
From utility to community
Bandsintown was originally started as an app built on Facebook canvas, which was quite popular at the time. This meant the only way to access the platform was through Facebook.com on desktop — these apps or page tabs weren’t available on the mobile website. Since then, Bandsintown built their own mobile app (4.8 stars on App Store) and website, which consequently put the Facebook app to rest.
When Bandsintown first launched, it was merely a concert listing product. It was a great tool to be in the know about your favorite artists, but didn’t necessarily connect fans with musicians.
As the platform has evolved, it’s shifted gears from focusing on “utility” to “community” – artists can now post to their fans on Bandsintown. Fans can comment on these posts or post on artist walls through the event screens on the mobile app. Similarly, fans can communicate with each other to buy/sell tickets, look for carpool/lodging, or simply share excitement. In addition, you can RSVP to events and invite your friends to shows.
What differentiates Bandsintown from all other event listing services is the personalization aspect of the platform. They know the exact music taste of each user through their activity on social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) or music services (e.g. Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, etc.), which is referred to as the fan’s MusicDNA. They’ve also put great science behind machine learning, developing an advanced recommendation engine that customizes the event listings for each user in order to provide them with a delightful experience.
“Personalization is at the core of everything we do.”
Bandsintown curates a list of live music events customized for each user based on their MusicDNA and location. This means if 10 people open their app to check out the shows in Manhattan, each person would see a completely different list based on their music taste.
If you looked at the profiles of all 40 million global users, you would see that each list is completely unique to the user. This level of personalization is the top value and differentiating factor of Bandsintown.
Valentine and his team have learned that no two humans are the same. Each person is different in terms of characteristics and preferences; so their experience in the app should be accordingly unique! The more that Bandsintown improves their machine learning and recommendation engine, the higher the level of platform engagement. This can be measured by the time spent in-app, the event email open rate, the ticket clicks/sales, and overall activity.
“We’re now living in the personalization era; most of the apps you love offer you a personalized experience: Amazon shows you the products you may be interested, Spotify curates a weekly list of songs selected only for you, Netflix recommends the shows you’ll like based on your history. Of course, it’s not possible to personalize the product all the time, but you can always personalize the way you offer your product to cater each customer.
For example, Netflix doesn’t create different shows for each user, but they do show different types of content for each user. In my opinion, personalization is the key to success for most products and services.”
Measuring success of personalization
Bandsintown is a completely data-driven company. All internal decisions are based on data, and all projects are measured with data, which is often quantitative. While they use numerous metrics, the primary KPIs are audience, acquisition, and engagement:
- Reach is the total audience we reach on all platforms such as mobile app, website, and artist properties where we have Bandsintown widgets and tabs installed.
- Acquisition is the number of people registered to our platform.
- Engagement is how active these people are (e.g. MAU).
Bandsintown qualitatively monitors all app store reviews meticulously, reads and responds to all user feedback submitted via the mobile app, in addition to conducting surveys, interviews and focus groups.
What has the data showed them?
Fans attend 6 more shows per year after they install Bandsintown.
80% of their users mentioned that they go to more shows after registering to Bandsintown
45% of fans attended a show of an artist they discovered on Bandsintown
80% of users say that they discover concert dates on Bandsintown first thanks to the app.
“These are all incredibly rewarding stats that prove we’re on the right track. We’re serving the live music community and the industry by connecting artists with their fan base.”
Creating product experiences
Given Valentine’s unique expertise in the Product Management and Technology industry and his passion for personalized interactions, he thinks that “experience” is the best word to describe a customer’s interaction with any product or platform:
At the end of the day, everything boils down to your experience. I’d strongly argue that your overall experience with a business is far more important than the product and services provided to you.
Think about a time there was something wrong with your meal at a restaurant and you had to return it, meaning that the product was not up to your standards. Now, what if the manager came by to personally apologize, brought you a new dish, compensated the charge of your meal, and offered you a glass of wine on the house? How would that change your overall experience? I’d be more likely to recommend that restaurant compared to one where the food came alright and I didn’t experience this exceptional level of customer service. This is a simple example of how the customer experience plays a larger role than the quality of the product.
The same principle applies for the tech and mobile app industry. For example, I’m a big fan of Instagram; I think it’s a great product. But imagine the app crashed unexpectedly multiple times in a row and had latency issues so the photos didn’t load; it would totally ruin my overall experience. In this case it wouldn’t matter how good the product is as long as my experience with it is not positive.
User experience is the most important aspect of each platform, but there is a close runner up: feelings! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to foster the right feelings for each customer.
Think about all those people paying hundreds of dollars for a simple white shirt just because there’s a logo or brand name on it while they can buy the same exact t-shirt on Amazon for $10. Why do you think they spent so much money on it? Because the product with the logo or brand name comes with a feeling of value, social affirmation, and selectiveness. This is a good example of how the feeling you inject to your customer is more important than the product you sell.
At Bandsintown, we’ve accomplished this so well as we make our users feel energized, hip, and trendy.
Living for live music: connecting online and offline experiences
Bandsintown is very unique in that it connects users online in the app to real-life experiences. Live music is one of the few experiences left that hasn’t been completely saturated by technology; although, we all have that friend who posts an entire concert to their Snapchat or Instagram story.
The motto at Bandsintown is “we live for live music”. Their mission is to help fans discover more artists, attend more shows with their friends, and never miss out on a show again. All of their efforts are to get people of their apartments and go see a live music event, which is one of the last tribal experiences, and to foster a strong community surrounding live music.
Big thank-you to Valentine for contributing his ideas and achievements to our blog!
Valentine Cem Aseyo is the Senior Vice President of Product at Bandsintown, the #1 concert discovery platform with a reach of 130M Monthly Active fans globally, 40M registered concert goers and 450k touring artists.
Before joining Bandsintown a year and a half ago, Valentine already possessed an impressive resume, he spent 8 years working at Facebook in Ireland, India, and US spanning many roles from User Experience to Advertising Products, to Marketing and Sales, which made Valentine an expert in Product Management and Technology. Prior to that, he worked at IBM and Colgate & Palmolive. Valentine is very passionate about creating personalized offerings for each user to enhance their experience.
Valentine had groundbreaking contributions to the mobile app & tech industry. His work on machine learning, recommendation engines, and personalization is considered as gospel in his area. There are several companies that tried to replicate his inventions that reformed the industry – such as customizing the app experience for each user based on their characteristics and online behavior, combining social media features with utility, and expanding the data coverage of music events.