Give LIVE a chance! Notes from the Music Tourism Convention

The Netherlands Tourist Board has set some ambitious goals for its work
  • It helps local venues and cultural institutions sell more tickets, so they can stay open, support local artists economically and continue serving their entire community.
  • It is a great way to get visitors out to less known/”popular” areas of the city.
  • It is also an excellent way to give people good reasons to visit any time of the year.
  • It is one of the very few ways for tourists to meet and interact with real locals, make new friends and get a better understanding of and appreciation for the place they are visiting (as opposed to all those “do things like a local” activities than no locals actually do), and build a connection with it that makes them want to come back.
  • There is so much going on all the time. Even if you only limit yourself to music (and ignore completely all other types of live events), trying to keep track of all the events taking place on any given night in any average city can easily feel like trying to drink from a fire hose.
  • The information is spread out, often inconsistent and finding it takes a lot of work. From googling “concerts in XX” and finding the right page to visit (hoping you don’t end up getting ripped off on Viagogo) to figuring out who the artists performing are, finding relevant things to do can quickly turn into a full time job, so most travellers don’t even try. So while in theory people would love to go see cool gigs when they travel somewhere, most of the times this doesn’t happen (I doubt stumbling into a tourist bar with a guy playing bad Beatles covers on his guitar qualifies as the “amazing live music experience” people refer to in their survey answers).
  • Music moves so fast it’s really hard to keep up. Once a city starts becoming famous for a certain “genre”, it might be tempting for the local tourist board to go all in promoting themselves as the “city of X”. By the time that happens, that specific genre has often already peaked/become “mainstream” and there is already new edgy stuff going on under the radar. Not to mention that not all musicians play the same kind of music at the same time, so while a certain genre might be relatively prominent it usually by no means represent the entire spectrum of the local music scene. Did you know, for instance, that New Orleans has a flourishing metal scene? Promoting just one genre can be tempting and relatively manageable to do, but it inevitably ends up neglecting way too much of the good stuff and missing out on a lot of potential visitors with other interests.
  • People are strange (and it’s a beautiful thing!). “Live music+travel” campaigns today are a completely manual affair, so to keep things simple and manageable they tend to focus on a handful of big ticket events (like a festival, or a top-tier artist playing in a stadium) that are more likely to appeal to a larger audience. It is a reasonable compromise, as long as one does not become complacent and makes the mistake of assuming that everybody will like a certain artist/genre simply based on their commercial success. Particularly when it comes to music taste, we humans are complex creatures with weird, idiosyncratic, peculiar taste. We also hate being second-guessed or told what we should do or like. Remember how messy it got when Apple decided to just put U2’s latest album on every iPhone?
  • Keeps track of a large number of events and makes the data consistent no matter the artist, the location or the source of the information. Furthermore, we only gather information from an authoritative source (at the moment, primarily the official ticket providers or the venue) and have built various filters to verify it further. We then enrich it with additional details about the artists performing, so that all the information needed to evaluate an event is presented to the user together.
  • It automates the process of matching users with the events/artists that best match their profile. Automation is the only way to truly activate the long tail of (relatively) smaller events and artists that have appeal for a certain audience, but that are not yet big enough to “headline” a travel marketing campaign of their own.
  • It puts each user solidly in the centre and helps them do more of what they like, rather than telling them what to like. We don’t tell them which concerts WE THINK they should see, we simply try to surface the ones that match their preferences best and filter out (but not hide!) the rest. We half-jokingly often refer to GigsGuide as an “enabler”: our goal is to give each users access to the content and the instruments they need to make their own informed choices. And even if you are really into *insert music genre or artist we really can’t stand*, our mantra is “we don’t judge” and GigsGuide will always do its best to help you find more of what matters to you (but please don’t ask us to come see Ed Sheeran with you ;)).



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