Sold-out shows are a blessing — and, in a way, a curse. Because even for your most in-demand shows, you can’t adjust supply to attract more fans.
“As a music club owner, once you sell out a show, you can’t sell any more tickets,” says Adam Thurston, the Director of Operations at Audiotree, which owns iconic Chicago venues Lincoln Hall and Schubas Tavern. “There’s a ceiling to how many people can enjoy a band live in that room.”
His solution? Livestreaming their shows to a global fanbase online.
Building an online fanbase
Thurston and his co-founders started Audiotree back in 2010. The production company hosted Audiotree Live, a popular video series of live performances from more than 750 bands in their studio. From the moment Audiotree took ownership of Lincoln Hall and Schubas Tavern in 2015, they wanted to tap into Audiotree’s online presence to make shows accessible to a broader audience.
“We wanted to use Audiotree production skills to stream live,” Thurston says. “Streaming those shows around the world gets more eyeballs, and those big metrics keep bands interested.”
And it’s working — Audiotree’s YouTube channel has 180,000 subscribers, which Thurston says is climbing by about 5,000 each month. In the process, they’re attracting new fans (and sponsors) to their venues.
“We’re streaming to bring these shows to life and help us get the word out,” Thurston says. “People are consuming the media we’re putting out, and it’s allowed us to create a worldwide fan base. As videos from Lincoln Hall get spread around social media, more people get curious about the venue, which is a combo that feeds off each other to build our brand.”
Attracting sponsors through streaming
As they’ve built their online fanbase, Thurston has partnered with big-name brands including Lagunitas, New Belgium, and Lyft.
“We’re getting eyeballs from all over the world, in their target demographic,” Thurston says. Their online and live audience is mostly 21-35 year olds, who are in high demand from sponsors.
With 137,000 tickets sold last year, Thurston has also experimented with sponsorship activations at the shows themselves. They’ve featured products in their venues, and offered reduced rates for Lyft trips to and from the shows.
By combining in-person and online streaming experiences — from the performance to the sponsors — Audiotree has been able to build their audience even further.
“It’s a great way for us to get their brand recognition,” Thurston says.
Want to learn more about Thurston’s other strategies to expand his venues’ audience? Read the full interview here.