As the challenge of converging disparate siloes of valuable data into unified, actionable insights is lessening, solution providers are also coming together to make data access and campaign creation even more powerful. Umbel, the Austin-based data aggregator and software company, has acquired a fellow Austin tech company, Lodestone, which specializes in a multi-channel fan engagement.

Published in Digital

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a thought, an idea, become a thing, a reality. Tucker Gumber, The Festival Guy, has released his book, “The Festival Thrower’s Bible,” on Vendini Press, and I couldn’t be more excited. It was last June at Bonnaroo. Tucker and I were chatting at the Red Light Management party when he told me of this project: a guide to help festival throwers do what they do better. Did I want to contribute? Hell yeah!

Published in News

I couldn't help but notice the focus of a recent article in Quartz, (“Music festivals are making more money by ditching cash,” December 1, 2015) was on how festivals are embracing cashless payment systems. Really? That unto itself is not necessarily news, as cashless payment systems are not a new, twinkle in the eye technology.

What stands out is that the case study referenced was the Clockenflap Music Festival - in Hong Kong. The actual news is the continuing adoption of cashless, not only in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, but in Asia.

In years past RFID systems were put in place to manage more streamlined access control, while some festivals, even the larger ones, put cashless into the ‘maybe someday’ category. At the same time, numerous festivals have implemented the technology with great success.

So that ‘someday’ has arrived. Fear of adoption will continue to plague festival promoters through a loss of competitive edge. There’s a way to overcome this. Festival leaders have opportunities to go into potential implementations with a clear idea of how these technologies work and better predict the outcome by learning from others who’ve walked the walk.

This month in San Diego, event technology companies, festival organizers, promoters, and thought leaders will gather at the annual International Music Festival Conference (IMFCON) + International Film Festival Summit (IFFS) to discuss how far festival operations, in all its facets, has come and what’s in store for the 2016 season (and beyond).

The three-day conference will dive into both film and music festivals, looking at trends and advancements in each industry, including the evolution of programming, operations, and attendee engagement (“Reviewing the Modern Film Festival: Current and Future Possibilities,” featuring Steven Gaydos VP and Executive Editor, Variety, and Colin Stanfield, Festival Producer, New York Film Festival).

Taking a look back at last this past year's festival season, “The Golden Age of Festivals” has Andy Hermann, Music Editor for LA Weekly, asking panelists Branden Chapman, The Recording Academy; Tom Russell, Founders Entertainment; and Simon Rust Lamb, Former COO & General Counsel for Insomniac, about the potential for a festival bubble to burst, when competition shows up in your backyard unexpectedly, and how they’re preparing for festival season 2016.

“Making Waves: Innovative Revenue Models for Music Festivals” will most likely include a conversation on cashless payment systems (Jeff, will you guys give Intellitix the green light to take Bonnaroo cashless in 2016?), along with how ticketing, social media, and fan engagement has evolved to drive an increase in sales.

Tapping into ways festivals can expand their brand’s reach beyond the people in attendance, “Creating Your Festival Channel: Technology, Strategy and More” will dive into how streaming, video, radio and social channels bring a larger audience into the live event experience. Google will join in along with SFX, Goldenvoice, Open Garden, and Bulldog Digital Media, who will moderate the conversation. Potential questions may include: How have these activations and tactics  proven to drive the following year’s ticket sales, with the proverbial fan FOMO being played to their advantage? How can these pieces of content be repurposed throughout the year’s marketing and sales efforts?

I expect other topics of discussion will arise, but with a slightly more elevated take than last year’s IMFCON, as experiences and intelligence is shared:

How can we operate Health & Safety better?

How will climate change shift current emergency response practices and will next-generation technology solutions help to avoid problems that plagued the 2015 season?

When will the U.S. be able to go beyond the tabu of drug testing and embrace the benefits of this practice as their festival counterparts in the U.K. and Europe have done?

What festivals are increasing their use of iBeacons, notifications, geofencing, and evolved social media tools, and what was the outcome from this past year? What’s the potential for 2016?

Where are networking technologies like mesh and mobile-to-mobile platforms headed?

How will convergence of film, comedy, music, food & wine impact festival programming as fans increase their desire for diversified experiences?

What part does small to mid-sized and niche festivals play in the industry and what are the operational benefits and challenges?

How will the evolution of VR play a part in the real-time and post festival experience for the fan?

How will M&A continue to impact the festival space, both on the promoter and the technology side?

When is happy hour?!

Many questions. No doubt, many answers will be taken away from this year’s IMFCON-IFFS.

And along with the panels are the numerous and unique opportunities to connect face-to-face with new and old acquaintances alike, sparked opportunities for business partnerships, and chances to pluck knowledge nuggets and that could potentially make a huge difference in this coming festival season.

See you there!

Register for IMFCON here.
For more information on IMFCON go here.

Published in Events

Visiting the CBS Mix 94.1 and X107.5 Downtown Soundhouse today at Life is Beautiful, Mike Kerr, bassist and singer for Royal Blood, and drummer Ben Thatcher chatted a bit with radio hosts MJ and Pauly. It was a lively ten minutes, touching on topics from their early wedding singer days to strip clubs and losing one’s concert-going virginity to Goldfrapp, along with numerous shots of sarcascim and dry wit to complement the free Dos Equis and Kettle One.

Pauly: So this is your first time in Vegas…

Mike: This is actually my third.

Ben: This is my first.

Pauly: Well, first time as Royal Blood in Las Vegas.

Mike: There’s a third time for everything, right?

MJ: Are you going to swing [Ben] around to strip clubs or something? I mean, he needs to be broken in.

Mike: I’ll want to do that. Haven’t had a formal band meeting about that yet, but yeah.

Pauly: We can have a meeting right now. All in favor of the strip club say aye…

Crowd: Aye!!

MJ: So you guys started out as wedding singers?

Mike: Yes, that’s correct.

Pauly: No kidding!

Mike: We did do that once upon a time.

Pauly: Lots of crazy cover songs?

Mike: Not crazy, just the standard ones…

Pauly: “You Are So Beautiful”…

Mike: Thank you.

MJ: What is one you did…

Mike: “Easy Like Sunday Morning,” or things like, “Mama Mia.”

MJ: So the classics. You guys have gotten the attention of some huge names: Tom Morrello, Jimmy Page. The Arctic Monkeys. Everybody loves you when they see you. Like, ’These guys are going to be dominating soon.’

Pauly: My first job in radio was for X107.5 pushing buttons for the Howard Stern Show about a year ago. You were the first new band that he has spoken about in almost two decades. That had to have felt great inside.

Mike: If I’m going to be totally honest, I didn’t have that much awareness of Howard until he asked us. Then I started Googling him and realized how sheltered my life had been.

Pauly: I’d been listening to the guy for years upon years, so as soon as he mentioned you and gave his stamp of approval, to me, you guys blew up after that. Foo Fighters had you on tour for the east coast. What was that all about?

Mike: Yeah, it was amazing. I don’t really know what else to stay about it really. That was our dream support slot. If you look back, have some spare time with pretty much nothing else to do, look back and watch interviews with us in the early days, and all we talk about is going on tour with the Foo Fighters. If the dream was to come true, that would be a good one. And it did.

MJ: You guys are just incredible. Dropped your self-titled debut in March. (To the crowd.) Make sure you get it if you haven’t yet. What bands are you looking forward to seeing. I know you’re going to be here tomorrow too, just chilling, hanging out.

Mike: Duran Duran. That’s why I’m here, if I’m honest. We’re just here to see Duran Duran.

Ben: And Snoop Dog.

Pauly: There’s just two of you. And such a full rock sound. I mean, you’re keeping rock alive in a day that’s so digital and electric. How does it feel to pull the weight on your shoulders right now?

Mike: Terrifying.

Pauly: Okay, great. (To the crowd) Have you seen Royal Blood live and on stage? (See our review of the Royal Blood’s Bonnaroo performance). It’s going to be one of the most rocking parts of the Life is Beautiful Festival. How did two guys do all of that?

Mike: Well, I can answer that question because we are those two guys. So it’s very convenient. The answer is very long and very boring, so, get comfy.

(Ben decides the theatre seats down below are actually more comfy than the barstool on the stage, and promptly drops down and settles himself into one, but still has the microphone to chime in when needed.)

Mike: We decided to start a band like every other band member would. When me and Ben met, which was around the age of 15, 16, we loved playing music together, and that’s what got us talking, isn’t it Ben.

Ben: Correct. He’s not lying.

Mike: Years passed. We’d done many weddings. We saw divorces. We even played at those parties. We played in restaurants. And this is all different bands, playing lots of different instruments. At one point Ben was even singing, and I was playing the keyboards. Eventually we found a combination, which is what we are now, which is the bass and the drum set. Does that answer your question?

Pauly: It’s a thick line of kick ass. Everybody has a first show, that live experience when you see a band for the first time. Unfortunately, my first ban was Whitney Houston. A great talent, but it wasn’t rock and roll. What was your first experience and what lit that spark for you?

Mike: It was a Goldfrapp concert. Not sure if anyone has heard of Goldfrapp. It’s brilliant. I went with a friend, and was possibly the only straight person in the room, because, she attracts a lot of gays, basically, which is great. But I wasn’t, so my first concert experience was, that I thought only gay people went to concerts. So I was very confused. There was lots of same sex people making out. And I thought, “Is this something that only gay people do?” A beautiful, naive position to have. But I did feel slightly awkward.

Ben: It’s ‘cause he likes vaginas.

Mike: Yeah.

MJ: What about you Ben, what was your first show?

Ben: Mine was, I think it was Linkin Park.

(Cheers from the crowd again.)

Mike: Similar story then?

Ben: Yeah. That was weird.

Royal Blood play the Downtown main stage at Life is Beautiful today at 4:45pm. Bring your lip balm so your smacker is fully ready for a making out session.

Published in Event Reviews

Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always personified the exotic, mysterious, and highly intense, even in those pop music moments, while at the same time being eagerly accessible. At the Auckland via Portland band’s 2013 SXSW performance at the Red Eyed Fly, frontman Ruban Nielson played to the crowd, already enamored with UMO’s self-titled debut, and at that time, the newly released second album, aptly name II, in an kimono-styled jacket. Between the light and flaky layers of multi-instrumentation coupled with Nielson honeydew vocal melodies, the experience seemed to release an imaginary fragrance of jasmine and frankincense in the warm Austin air.

Published in Event Reviews
13 Jun 2015

It was the the second night of Bonnaroo, and as the sun dipped down the coolness rose, bringing a layer of happiness over the already gitty crowd awaiting Tears for Fears. As the legendary duo and backing band took the stage, shrieks rang through the men and women, young and old, all the way to the back crowd where we were.

Published in Event Reviews

Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher in the UK’s Royal Blood were making quite a stir in their home country, but it didn’t take long for their reputation for heavy riffs and larger-than-life live sets to penetrate the states, especially after their shows at SXSW 2014.

Published in Event Reviews

When I hear that a band has Britpop leanings, I can’t help but perk up my ears like my dog Sam does when he hears the crackling of a chip bag. It’s the instinctive sound known to deliver the most scrumptious of treats. The DMA’s have indeed lived up to the high bar previously set by Britpop greats before them, including Ride that I saw earlier in the week, and Noel Gallagher, whom I was immensely excited to see at Governors Ball.

Published in Event Reviews

Image: Lollapalooza, TradableBits

[This article appeared originally on, a contributed article by Kim Owens.] The year of cashless. The year of beacons. The year of RFID. I think it’s also the year of the Goat, if I’m not mistaken. Thing is, it’s the year for all of it in 2015. The one thing tying it all together, not forgetting ticketing and social media, is the data. It’s all these points of information that let the promoter, the festival organizer, the live event producer have the insight to make better decisions, which leads to a better experience for those people coming through the gates and through the doors.

Published in Music News