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Your twitter profile ( @HrefnaHelga ) says “Anyone can be cool... but awesome takes practice. // Arts. Business. Tech.” When / what did you start practicing? What got you interested in the arts, business and tech?

‘Anyone can be cool… but awesome takes practice’ has been my tongue-in-cheek Twitter bio for some time. It frequently catches people’s eye, here in the UK and abroad, so it seems to be serving me well. My bio further reads ‘Arts, business, and tech’, which are the three disciplines associated with my professional life.  I got my BA in Arts Management in London, in business and management studies for the creative and cultural sector. ‘Art’ in this context meaning more or less any cultural business or industry — theatre, music, visual art, films, ballet, and more. I learned how to create business and marketing plans, how to set up and organise events, match budgets, and give artists the space required to create excellent work. This subject choice wasn’t obvious, since I graduated from college with a physics major, and intended to study engineering. Further, I didn’t set out to work in tech, but have since realised it suits my interest and skills perfectly. I am definitely finding my more nerdy academic background proving to be useful. It’s nice when things work out like that.

My initial involvement in the arts business started almost accidentally. I participated in extra-curricular activities at my college since I’m quite social. I ended up raising a few grand for our school diary via cold-calling. I only found out then that I seemed to have a natural knack for sales and marketing. My schoolmates picked up on this and got me to manage the marketing for a school theatre production. Since we weren’t by any means low on funds, I organised and was the editor for a 64 page long programme (which was obviously completely necessary), got PR from two of the biggest news outlets in the city (for a college theatre production), and got so many posters printed and spread, I heard rumours of them being seen over 50 miles away.

I had always been interested in theatre and in the arts, but never really as an actor or the performer. It didn’t click with me until [the college production], that this marketing / production side was way more up my alley. I got exposed to the energy of the live performances, without having to perform. I became fascinated with how to translate the art to a message to the public, how that message would then spread, and ultimately how to cultivate a huge number of people to do something. This project was extra rewarding because it sold so many tickets, we had to add two more performances. That’s how I decided to focus solely on the creative industries. Initially my interest was in the marketing, but over time it graduated to the wider business studies.

The tech side was even more of a fluke. I always envisioned tech as geeky, sweaty dudes programming something pretty boring. Through personal connections I got involved with Promogogo, on a temporary basis at first. The only reason I agreed to it, was because the product intrigued me. It wasn’t until much later, I started to appreciate programming and the development of a product for the creative process it in fact is. Same as with the arts, you start with nothing — and then you have something. Then you have to take that something, and put it in the hands of someone else. You have a show, you have an audience, you have a product, you have users. It really isn’t all that different.

The average US consumer spends half their annual music budget on live events ????. Link ???? & in description.

A photo posted by Promogogo (@gogopromogogo) on

How do these 3 disciplines or interests relate to each other?

The parallels between innovation in the tech industry on one hand, and more traditional creative achievements (albums, plays, etc.) on the other, are only growing stronger to me. Artists need to be more business savvy these days and know how to get themselves out there, and businesses need to be more tech savvy for the same reason.

To me, tech without art or a business model is worthless on it’s own. We’re not just seeing parallels anymore, but increasing overlaps between tech, art, and business. I believe some of the best work of our times is when the three come together. The best example of this would probably be Apple’s iTunes store. It was when the computer company (tech) revolutionised the music industry (art) with iTunes (a business model).

What's your favourite art form?

As a kid, theatre was probably my favourite art form. I remember being completely encapsulated by the magic of theatre. To this day, going to the theatre is probably one of my favourite things to do. I sometimes still experience that same magic now when I go to an excellent art gallery. Other art forms I favour are writing, comedy — and I’m a big fan of the emerging art forms online.

But nothing compares to music. Music is everywhere and always and so powerful but also so mundane. Music understands you when you’re heartbroken; it can lift you to the highest highs, but it also follows us around in our daily lives. You can control the mood of a room, in a workplace, at a party, or when by yourself, by what music you play. Music is a part of everyone’s life, and it’s the most accessible art form.

It is so normal to us, that I probably never would have even considered myself a huge music buff. Thinking back though, I was going to Rammstein and Metallica concerts as a pre-teen and hanging out with metal bands when I was 16. When I moved to London I experienced that there was no shortage of live music. To me it was crazy to be recently introduced to some cool new album, and then next week see them live.

Music is by far the most popular art form. We see this very clearly in the numbers no matter where we look. Most people go to a concert at least once a year and listen to music for about four hours every day. This also has interesting implications, as it was one of the most noticeable industries to ‘get hit’ by the internet. It did get hit, first and the worst, because it is consumed always by everyone.

I wasn’t sure when I started doing my degree what artform I would commit to the most. It wasn’t instantly obvious, almost because it was too obvious. Music by far has the most personal connection, and is the most interesting industry today in arts & entertainment. To have an industry completely change their key revenue stream in under 15 years is extraordinary. I, for one, don’t really have a problem with the explosion of the live music industry. At a really good show, I get completely encapsulated by the magic on that stage as well. And as the audience. I am not a performer, I love the show.

"Touring is now the most lucrative part of the band’s business." @MickJagger

Read more at promogogo

What have you learnt / yet to learn? What are you learning at the moment?

My formal education is over for the time being, but I continue to learn through practice, and I aim to read widely everyday. I follow Medium closely, as various perspectives surface, and often the articles are educational or insightful. This is to make sure I know what’s happening in my professional fields and related industries. 

Hrefna Helga (Habbi)

The books I read, and podcasts I listen to tend to be non-fiction, and are often about best practices in a field, audience interaction, or on a business topic such as marketing and economics. I attend networking events frequently, which often have an educational component of some kind, and follow people online who have interesting career trajectories or I can learn from in some way. In my spare time I continue to study how talent finds and builds an audience, and ultimately makes a living from it. In other words, how people find success doing what they love.

There are many parts at play here, but mainly there’s the craft and talent on one side, and the business on the other. The business side includes how to use the internet for marketing & distribution of art, and what revenue models work. There are new kinds of artists emerging with the internet, celebrities on the newly established networks such as YouTube, but also on more recent ones such as Snapchat and Instagram.

When it comes to what I have yet to learn, I have to quote Socrates, or Einstein, or whoever the Internet will attribute the quote to today and say: “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know”. The more I get exposed to interesting people, in person or through their works, the more I realise how many more things I want to know and learn and master.

One of our favorite quotes http://radar.promogogo.com/words/from-passion-to-profit-by-fastcompany

A photo posted by Promogogo (@gogopromogogo) on

What challenges do you see in the music industry at the moment?

Music and other creative industries are in a huge transitional time. The success stories we are seeing today are artists who get these changes, commit to playing the long game and build a relationship with their audience. There is an available audience for anything online, but it can take time to accumulate — and to accumulate revenue from it.

This goes both for traditional artists such as musicians, but also for the new types of artists that the online platforms have enabled. For artists who have a loyal following, there seems to be no limit to what they can achieve. 

The truth is selling tickets is really, really hard. We only hear the stories of how Adele sold out Madison Square Garden, six times over, in less than an hour — because it is rare.

Only a handful of artists attract that kind of crowd this easily. For everyone else, filling every venue is first of all non-trivial, and second of all, artists and their representatives don’t have all the relevant information on hand.

Who do you work with? How many of you are there? Who does what?

We have a small team, the described product team and a team of developers. All the work is done in-house, and most of the staff started when Mobilitus committed to build Promogogo. Promogogo poses a lot of interesting challenges on technical & marketing execution, which the team has solved along the way.

Do you like our new office setup? #makingroomforthenewguy #wehaveanewguy

A photo posted by Promogogo (@gogopromogogo) on

What's your role at Promogogo?

I am the Product Manager for Promogogo. I was approached to take a look at the product briefly due to my background & understanding of management for the creative industries. When I joined, the core product team of Promogogo was complete, with a strong technical understanding of tickets & mobile from the founders (who are my parents. Hah! I told you it was a personal connection), a rockstar from the 80s they had recruited along the way, and finally myself, with insight & experience to management and practical elements. The team clicked & we’ve worked on Promogogo for almost two years now.

What IS Promogogo? Who are you thinking about most - musicians or fans?

The company is actually not called Promogogo, but Mobilitus. Promogogo is a new product for Mobilitus, who have been working in the online ticketing industry since before there were iPhones.

A few years back my parents got a pretty important deal. Ticketmaster was outsourcing their mobile web, as mobile traffic started to grow. My parents’ experience with mobile solutions for big American corporations, such as Real Networks, Sprint & CollegeHumor, demonstrated that they had the relevant expertise to create the mobile web for Ticketmaster.

Building a system of this scale was no easy task, and it took a few years to adjust the system to the forever increasing traffic, and increasing attacks on the system from hackers and ticketing scalpers. As the system became more stabilised, my parents so happened to share an office with the aforementioned rockstar, Einar Örn from the Sugarcubes. When he saw the live ticket sales appear on our global sales map on the office screen he said: ‘We need to get this to the artists’. With that the idea of Promogogo was born.

Promogogo is an online management and marketing platform, optimised for touring artists and their representatives to sell more tickets to their live events. While anyone who wants to use big data to create targeted promotions can benefit from Promogogo, we’ve started with optimising ticket sales to live events, because it’s the industry we know.

As for the artists, we’ve split touring artists into 5 tiers, the fifth tier being local artists who are just getting started, and tier one being stadium acts. As artists move up the tiers the person responsible for selling tickets changes. For a tier 5 artist, they are likely to manage everything themselves. Moving up the tiers they start to get signed to labels, have managers, and perhaps even someone to run their online presence. These different stakeholders have different needs for the product. It’s critical to us that Promogogo is first and foremost practical to the people who use it.

What data can event promoters / musicians / venues see about the people buying tickets?

Promogogo brings the necessary tools to the artists to fill venues. First is knowing current ticket sales at any one point. Second, have actionable steps to do if some events need a push. Third, evaluate. Lather, rinse, repeat. Know your sales, promote, see what works. At the core, that’s what we do.

The tools break down pretty logically. Create online campaigns in 4–6 steps to push for ticket sales, enhance with fan content our platform helps you source, and then share it online. We assume online interaction with the audience, because that’s where they are, while offline events are featured in our statics to pinpoint the reason for the traction. Of course we are mobile first, since our primary clients are touring artists.

How does Promogogo allow people to interact with / combine their social media accounts?

Promogogo is invisible to the audience. The only thing the audience sees are the social promotions from the artists, and perhaps on-brand (for the artist of course!) landing pages for easier conversion of ticket sales.

Artists and their teams can source content from Instagram & Twitter, and post on Twitter & Facebook. The content sourced from the guests at the show can be shared, of course always giving the deserved shout-out to the person posting. Promogogo is to make the artist look good, not get in the way between the artist and their wider audience.

What's the strategy for the Promogogo website?

We spent a lot of effort on making our website and online presence reflect the tone of voice we wanted from our brand: happy, cheerful and positive colours. Promogogo is made for professional use, so by definition our users are dealing with high stakes.  That’s why our images and copy are designed to make the work as enjoyable as possible. It is a work in progress but we’re happy with the direction and feedback we’ve gotten.

Visit Promogogo's profile on Pinterest.

What are Promogogo's biggest challenges? How have you funded it so far?

We’re building the product on revenues so we keep the team as small as possible and only grow when absolutely needed.

What’s more, 10% of all revenue goes into a bonus pool which is split equally between all team members, every month. So it really is in our own best interest to keep revenues growing at a faster rate than the team size.

How are you adapting, growing, developing Promogogo according to what audiences, musicians, and promoters want / need?

We work iteratively, so there’s no genius brain behind everything as we bounce of each other. Making Promogogo makes me appreciate more every day how important it is to work with people who have complementary skills to yours. I couldn’t do anyone else’s job on the team so I have a tremendous amount of respect for their hard work and insight, and I think the team feels that way in general about each other.

Promogogo on Facebook

Have any big bands used Promogogo?

We’ve been privileged working on this product, to have access to a network of artists and managers from around the world of all scales and sizes.

Our project with Arcade Fire was interesting because the band was already collecting fan photos from artists using the hashtag #reflektor, the name of their latest album and subsequent tour. They had gotten about 12k photos in the 7 months they’d run the operation.

Upload your photos and videos from the reflecktor tour and include the hastag #ARCADEFIRE or #REFLEKTOR to be featured in the Arcade Fire online gallery.

Once we went live, we weren’t only surfacing photos from the hashtag, but also from people posting their photos while at the concerts. Our experience is that these location sourced photos, found by cross-referencing Instagram photos from the time and location of the concerts, gather so much more high quality photos than the hashtag does. Anyone can post a photo with #reflektor, so sometimes it’s just a screenshot of an iPhone playing the album Reflektor. That’s great for the artist to see people are listening, but makes for pretty boring content when it exceeds more than a dozen such photos.

The value of fans talking online (about you)

To this day I’m amazed by the quality of photos taken during live shows, that sometimes only have a handful of likes. It goes to show that just because you love Arcade Fire, doesn’t mean your followers on Instagram do. But other people in the audience do.

'[B]ands get to discover & curate fan photos like never before & fans get to see who is else is a part of their community.' digitaldoughnut - real-time-live-event-promo

How do the musicians / hosts / promoters / audience define their success?

The engagement of this project went through the roof. Arcade Fire shared some of the fans photos onto their Facebook and Twitter, which completely blew the mind of the fans. Seeing the band directly interacting with fans, got the wider audience involved as well. They went through their phones and starting posting pictures of the Arcade Fire concert they went to, even if it was months ago. Those 12k photos went up to +80k in a matter of a week.

What’s the financial model for Promogogo - % of ticket sales or something else?

Our pricing also reflects our Users First strategy. It’s not fair that an emerging artist playing at their local pays the same for Promogogo as a stadium act. Our monthly price is the price of your ticket times five. This way we make sure the product is accessible for everyone, but also reflect how the value of Promogogo goes up as the operation grows more complex with bigger tours. Yes, that means if your live shows are free, you pay us nothing.

How does Promogogo / and the musicians who use it measure success?

The success of our customers should be to sell more than five additional tickets per month to their shows using Promogogo. Their success then is our success. Using Promogogo to surface content from artists has yielded hundreds of thousands of brilliant pictures of shiny happy people at gigs worldwide — showing quite literally the level of happiness music brings people. We feel it is a worthwhile effort to help bring this happiness to more and more people.

What does Promogogo hope to achieve in 2016 / in the next 3-5 years?

At the moment we are focused on the final polish of Promogogo, as we prepare for a full fledged outreach and onboarding process. We’ll be reaching back out to the artists and managers we’ve engaged with throughout the process, other partners, people we’ve met along the way, and of course new users.

Website & logo © Cheeky Promo 2016 / rupert@cheekypromo.com / (+44) (0)7447 907 357

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