Special thanks to Paradigm Talent Agency’s Diana Gremore for her first-hand insights on this article.

The live sector of the music industry, which provides a major source of income for indie artists especially, has undoubtedly been hit hardest by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We want to offer a bit of hope to artists, venues, bookers, and anyone else involved in the live space: Things will eventually get better.

So, while you’re staying safely socially distanced, let the final part of our tour miniseries get you ready to hit the ground running at the end of all of this.

By now, you’ve already started routing your tour, and you also have a shortlist of potential support acts, thanks to the wide world of geo-specific streaming data at your fingertips. But there’s so much more to data-driven tour planning than just those general strategies.

For instance, how do you know what kinds of venues to book? How do you negotiate with local promoters? And maybe most importantly, how do you grow your audience base in the process?

Let’s take South Carolina-based chillwave producer/singer-songwriter Toro y Moi as an example.

In the U.S., Toro y Moi’s primary listener base, according to his Spotify Monthly Listeners (MLs) and Daily YouTube Video Views, is located in major music industry hubs like Los Angeles and New York City. Zooming in on those cities, however, we can get a better estimation of who is actively engaged with him as an artist, at least digitally, which can potentially point you in the right direction when it comes to venue selection.

Our Instagram data suggests he has about a 60/40 split of male to female followers, respectively, the majority of whom are 25 to 34 years old. That said, he does much better, comparatively speaking, with the 18-24 demographic in terms of gender equity: 20 percent male and 17 percent female.

Let’s check out YouTube now, keeping in mind that we should approach social listening data as guidelines and not certainties. Here, Toro y Moi’s male to female split is closer to 70/30, respectively, with the 18 to 24-year-old demo winning out across the board. 25-34 still holds a significant market share, but this could indicate something about the way his fans are engaging on each platform.

From a live perspective, the fact that the age demographic is significant in different proportions for Instagram and YouTube might give Toro y Moi a hint about what age groups to include when he’s planning his tour. If you know, for instance, that your age demo includes 18 to 35-year-olds, then it might be worth thinking about setting your shows at 18+ instead of the usual 21+, which is customary due to alcohol service. Not all venues will accommodate 18+, however, because most of their revenue is generated from alcohol sales … so choose wisely.

One final point to drive home is, with regard to the fine-tuning of tour planning, you’ll want to think about potential growth areas, whether that’s at the demographic level or at the geographic level.

An artist's geographic distribution of Instagram Followers for smaller markets.
An artist's geographic distribution of Spotify MLs for smaller markets.

Geographically speaking, you can take a look across the top cities by Spotify MLs, and you’ll be able to see common cities that seem to resonate cross-platform. Unveiling these areas that may be slightly smaller could also make for much stronger, intimate fan connections, which can only be good in the long run. Instead of New York City, how about Philadelphia (26th by YouTube Views, 28th by Spotify MLs)? Instead of Sydney, how about Melbourne (17th by Instagram Followers, 5th by Spotify MLs)? It just depends what an artist’s short- and long-term goals are — not to mention the fun of strategizing.

So, if you’re seeing something similar in your data, it might be worth looking for new opportunities to diversify. Try looking for new geographic markets to grow your audience by thinking about the smaller cities around the larger markets. Try thinking about new audience segments to engage with by going beyond your traditional age demo. And if you’ve transitioned to live-streaming and multimedia performances, there’s no reason you can’t apply some of these strategies to your digital approach as well.


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