Do you think you’ve got all the fan data you need? Openstage offers a fan data CRM system that allows artists to combine various data sets – which enables them to identify and engage with their most committed fans. Openstage argues that many artists not only often lack valuable information – they need to consolidate the data they already own.
This missing data, such as fans location, which DSP they use, what their favourite album is and other insights, is the information they say can help artists make more informed decisions – like qualifying demand for shows, music, merch etc. – reducing risk and increasing sales.
Openstage says its user base is currently split 50/50 between developing and established artists – stressing that it’s equally useful for artists with a small fanbase, allowing them to superserve fans early on.
How does it work?
The first step using Openstage is to import all and any existing data – such as a mailing list and historical D2C or ticket sales. The idea is to bring everything into one place and make sense of it. OpenStage’s Head of Business Development Rob Sealy notes: “When data in itself is siloed like that it is useful but not as useful as when it’s all brought together. The more data you bring together, the more insight you will get. It’s the insights that’s of value, as those fan insights will power your choices.”
Once that data is uploaded and organised, the dashboard segments an artist’s audience into three categories: ‘Legitimate Interest’, ‘Marketing Permission’ and ‘Openstage Fan’. This is centered around interpreting fan engagement and thier GDPR permissions. Openstage thinks that, GDPR is an enabler, not a barrier to collecting this kind of fan information.
GDPR says that anything that’s being sold with your name on it, such as a t-shirt or a ticket, means you’ve got a legitimate business interest in having that information. Therefore, fans within the ‘Legitimate Interest‘ category are fans whom you have historical sales data on, but no marketing permission.
Thus the ‘Marketing Permission’ segment consists of fans on the artist’s email list, or if the fan has given consent when they purchased something.
Finally, ‘Openstage Fans’ have shared information with the artist, perhaps after an artist has offered an incentive for fans to share this data – via social media, or by emailing fans in the “Marketing Permission” category, for instance.
Shifting casual fans to highly engaged fans that share useful data with the artist
The goal is to try and move fans into the ‘Openstage Fan’ category, so users can build a dataset around them. This is done via special Openstage links, which offer an incentive – like getting access to a presale – to the fan in return for sharing information with the artist.
This additional information can be anything useful that the artist wants to capture: which DSP fans use; how far they would travel for a show; and so on. When fans visit an Openstage link for the first time they will enter their email to be registered for the campaign. Subsequent visits don’t require sign-up.
Openstage links can also be used for pre-save activations and previous Spotify pre-saves will automatically go towards your next release. Sealy says that actively updating your fan data is vital: “Most artists are moving into a new campaign and there’s a nervousness around that […] you might have been away for two years so there’s a need to update your audience insights.”
Interpreting, mapping, and grouping the fan data
Openstage displays fan data in a few different ways. Openstage generates a map of the fans you know the location of – useful for planning tours and discovering new markets. (Openstage plans to include venues and independent record stores on the map too, to help booking and store collaborations).
The overall audience can be sliced up using various filters. These custom audience can be saved for useful purposes – “Fans with Spotify”, “All UK fans”, “Ticket Buyers London”, “Bought Tickets and Album” – and update in real time. This is useful: you can immediately stop promoting your new album to specific fans as soon as you learn they have bought it.
It also enables creative campaigns for, say, superfans: an artist can create something exclusive that is only targeted at their 500 superfans – an additional income stream for the artist.
The ‘Broadcast’ function is a Mailchimp-type drag-and-drop email builder to send very personalised emails to specific segments of your audience. Sealy’s example is around internationalisation: “We’ve got some artists who speak to all of their German fans in German, all of their South American fans in Spanish, etc – and that’s as it should be.”
Fans can be tagged with details like ‘had meet & greet with the artist’, ‘had zoom call with artist’, to target them in a more granular way.
Launch date, pricing, competitors, and the future
The most recent version of Openstage came online just before the most recent lockdown, and Sealy says the platform helped some artists cope when the live industry vanished: “We’re working with a band called Only The Poets who lost a fortune. They used OpenStage to engage with their fans, bring them closer, and […] asked them: ‘Can you help us? Can you give us an advance on our next EP?’ And the response was amazing: they’ve recouped all their losses and covered the cost of recording the EP – and made some profit.”
OpenStage is currently in private beta, so the pricing model is not yet confirmed. Generally, OpenStage charges based on a licensing model – with pricing depending on the size of the artist’s audience. Additional features, like artists selling an allocation of their tickets to their biggest fans via OpenStage, sees the platform serving as the ticketing provider, taking a percentage of the sales. The company claims this cut is a lot lower than the big ticketing services.
One of Openstages’ closest competitors is Canadian company Tradable Bits, a platform offering a slightly more extensive set of features – however Openstage’s pricing is more accessible.
In the future, the company aims to be more predictive around the fan data, highlighting desirable outcomes for the artist. A fan hierarchy – allowing artists to message fans based on whether they’re interested, casual, engaged, or superfan – is in the pipeline too. Another future plan is to allow artists to sell their merch directly to fans via OpenStage, and own all of their data as a result; and to build a system that rewards fans for different engagements in different campaigns.
The overall goal for Openstage is to become a one-stop-shop where labels and managers can check in on a daily basis to see what’s going on with the artist’s entire fanbase across all sectors. Openstage plans to stay in private beta until the end of 2021, with a big public launch and accompanying funding round in early 2022.