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The new normal of the music industry

Our interview with Hans Ascrawat (CEO OneCall, artist and touring management)

Hans Ascrawat is CEO of the OneCall group with several divisions such as LobbyCall specialized in Tour & Production management. It’s needless to say the music industry is hit hard but Hans is staying optimistic and his resilience is contagious! Touring with bands means visiting a lot of countries and so already from the beginning of January 2020 LobbyCall has been affected by the virus while touring with bands in Asia. They saw what was coming first and might be amongst the last to recover. Here’s Hans’ view on what will happen:

Read the 7 minute article or listen or watch the full interview below.

Streaming live music isn’t new, but we have been doing the same old stuff without really defining what would add value.

Hans Ascrawat

Prefer to listen? Here is 1h audio! Enjoy!

1. Music industry has known nothing but change the past 20 years

From vinyl to CD’s, over Napster to Spotify, Hans has worked in the music industry for more than 20 years and feels it has continuously known rapid change. Being an industry that has shown agility before, they are preparing for the post-corona era. ‘Every downside has its upside’, says Hans, ‘For years I have wanted to take more time to work on innovative ideas, but I could never really find the time to focus’. So now he’s taking this opportunity with both hands to prepare for after the storm.

2. Exploring the full potential of live streaming:

Streaming live isn’t new, but Hans thinks the true potential hasn’t been reached at all! We have been doing the same old stuff without really defining what would add value, he says. We should explore the technology-specific characteristics of streaming and focus on new ways of interaction and experience.

As a kid Hans always watched the Dutch festival Pink Pop on TV (who else skipped studying to watch the concerts as a kid? I did…) and the “2-meter sessies”, bands playing small live sessions in the backstage. He was too young to go to the actual festival, but these experiences made him dream of a career in the music industry.


3. Opportunities in streaming: some ideas we’ve touched upon.

Imagine buying an e-ticket to a festival, giving access to behind the scene content you can’t see when you’re at the festival (or maybe you can, on your mobile). Interviewing artists, seeing them prepare, a virtual meet & greet, playing a game of FIFA together, buying the same guitar as your hero, ... It’s all possible. If two of your favorite bands play at the same time, you just watch one on demand, whenever you want.

A “combi-ticket” might get a new meaning: enjoying the live experience one day, and reliving your favorite concerts or live streaming the other day. Or if you need more people to party, you might invite friends over to your home after receiving a sponsored party package of beers, boxes and beamer.

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As an artist you live from 10% really loyal fans, so give them extra attention.

Hans

4. The importance of sound quality.

If streaming live music would become mainstream, what would be the impact on the quality of sound? Bad internet connections or a distorted signal might ruin the experience. Quality is important! Would you get (or rent) better headphones? Would laptop-speakers become better? Would your Sonos get a “live music” setting?

One very cool technology that might get a boost is 3D sound, says Hans. This is software that mimics the experience of a surround system. One of Onecall’s divisions 4EARS is an expert in sound engineering. Hans listened to two concert recordings on his laptop: one from 4EARS with 3D sound and another mix from another company without. Luckily the one he absolutely loved was the one from 4EARS!

5. Different music genres require specific formats.

Not every format works for every genre of music. Watching a live performance of Metallica in a cinema wouldn’t work. Do you see yourself headbanging in your seat? But it does work for Opera!

DJ’s have started streaming from home, dressing up their turntables and answering viewers questions and remarks while they play! Some songwriters are streaming intimate duets from their bedroom on Instagram Live.

Aiming for a clear niche is a good idea according to Hans. Too many festivals are booking all kinds of genres and bands although the way you experience the music is totally different, says Hans. In not making a clear choice for a genre they are losing identity. In the future he believes we’ll see more dedicated events, celebrating the unique experience a certain genre can bring to its fans.

6. Dear musicians: open up!

One of the essential elements of being a musician has been performing. As this is not possible yet and it might take a while before it will be, Hans would urge artists to think about other ways to interact with their fans. You might not be performing, but you are constantly creating experiences you could invite your fans to join in! Be it while you’re recording a new song, making the artwork for your next album, doing rehearsals with the band, exploring new instruments or software, organizing a video duet with a fellow musician, … Invite them to become part of your world.

Some of your fans might not even feel the need to experience a live concert of yours. ‘I don’t feel the need to meet the authors of my favorite podcasts in real life’, says Hans, ‘but I’m still a fan! ‘As an artist you live from 10% really loyal fans, so give them extra attention. ‘The more people you reach, the bigger your 10% will be, so don’t hold back from letting fans into your house in a digital way.’

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Many kids only get to know new music through the games they love!

Hans

7. Want to reach millions? Work with the gaming industry!

Many kids only get to know new music through the games they love! This is a whole new platform many artists are not aware of. It’s just not on their radar. It’s an immense market with a huge audience. ‘I’ve been trying to convince our artist to explore this medium for years’, says Hans! He thinks it’s only going to get bigger.

Music performances in Fortnite reach more than 12 million people at the same time, 70M gamers play Call of Duty daily, … Those are numbers you can’t ignore. E-gaming tournaments are held in stadia where top-teams are competing in front of 10.000 fans (and much more streaming from home). Have you ever considered to do the half-time show of an e-tournament?

8. Remote tour management

‘The touring industry is a tough business to be in’, says Hans, ’It’s really demanding both mentally and physically!’ His team is working hard to be pioneers in bringing automation and digitization to the touring industry.

It takes years to become a senior tour manager, so once you have the right experience it would make sense that multiple bands on multiple tours would be managed by one senior. ‘Instead of being on the road with a band 100% of the time, you might only need to be there 20% and coach them from a distance the rest of the time, if you have the right digital tools to do so (which LobbyCall is building with Made as we speak).’

You might not expect it, but the music industry could learn a lot from the accountancy industry. ‘Touring - as lovely and rock and roll as it sounds - has a lot to do with budgets and accounting’, says Hans, ‘Managers and artists build houses with the money they don’t spend on production & settlement errors.’

9. Now we have to build!

Hans believes they will survive this storm. He wants to take the time to build and rebuild. From the moment the storm is over you have to know what to do so you can start straight away! Success is where opportunity meets preparation, he believes.

It’s not because you can’t sell something today that you shouldn’t have honest and open conversations with all your stakeholders and clients to feel what’s going on.

That’s his advice to others: be prepared! Be in first place!

‘It’s like preparing for the Olympics without knowing when the Olympics might be.’

Hans

How could you maximize the characteristics of (live) streaming to benefit the user-experience of your products? (hyper proximity, live commenting, super personal, no travel, uber scalable …)


Could you partner with the gaming industry to reach new audiences? Or learn from them by thinking about ways to “gamify” your user-experience?


Could you create superfans for your brand by giving them a glimpse of the making process? By inviting them behind the scenes?


Check out more ideation starters and areas of opportunities.

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