1988 saw “Simply Irresistible,” “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” and “Smooth Criminal” running the airwaves, along with hits from Phil Collins and Pet Shop Boys. If you were born that year, it’s no surprise a career in music could become a calling — which is definitely true of John Davis, founder and talent buyer at 1988 Entertainment, a concert and event production company.

“I wear many hats,” Davis tells ToneDen. “I independently own and operate my company in Oregon. I am also a musician, producer, and recording audio engineer, as well as a mentor for Recording Radio Film Connection.”

The Crystal Method @ The Historic Ashland Armory

Davis’s life in music began in 2003 (at a Misfits concert), but the last six years have been dedicated to 1988 Entertainment (formerly Red Light Productions). What began as a 10–15 shows per year operation has grown: 1988 Entertainment now buys talent for six markets, produces shows in 17 venues, and puts on 150 events a year. He’s worked with everyone from The Crystal Method to T.I., Pennywise to Anthrax.

While Davis’s industry acumen is aces, he’s counted ToneDen as a marketing partner for three years. “I quickly realized I had something very powerful and very easy to use — not to mention I can ask any questions and have an answer from the team. I love that I don’t have to problem-solve alone.”

DIY Roots Grow Up

Listening to Davis’ story, it’s hard not to be struck by his passion. “I started young, fifteen years old,” he says. “No one was bringing the artists I liked to my town, so I did — artists like The Ghost Inside, Bring Me The Horizon, As I Lay Dying, back when they only sold a couple hundred tickets.” He worked with a larger promoter, too, learning the ropes of event production on shows by Gwar, Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly. 

Today, with his focus on 1988 Entertainment, the routine is a little different. “My day-to-day is email, phone, email, phone, email,” he jokes. “I book mostly tertiary markets, so my challenges are making sure the numbers make sense for the artists I am bringing. I do the buying, I do the contracts, I design the posters, I run most of the concerts, I do settlement.” 

Three years ago, though, frustration with Ads Manager found Davis responding to a random email from ToneDen. “Everyone thinks they can market a concert and help you get tickets sold,” he says, “but this one was appealing to me. I wanted something that made sense.”

The difference between life with and without ToneDen is “night and day,” Davis admits. “I used to spend hours building and fine-tuning campaigns with Facebook. Now I build what I want, it looks great, I watch it go live, I make a few adjustments. I can have marketing up and running in 30 minutes.”

"I can have marketing up and running in 30 minutes.”

A Country Campaign That Crushed

The concerts 1988 Entertainment produces run the gamut from electronic to hip-hop, rap to country. Regardless of genre, ToneDen fits their needs. “I build standard marketing campaigns using Facebook and Instagram,” Davis says, “using Eventbrite, MailChimp, and Spotify data. I’ll run contests, which usually do pretty well depending on the show.”

For a Granger Smith concert last spring, Davis ran a nine-day conversion campaign. He A/B tested multiple ad creatives, targeting a range of fans: website visitors, MailChimp lookalike, a Granger Smith interest audience. 

Over the course of seven days, Davis spent $200 marketing the show. By the time the campaign was over, almost 600 people had clicked the ads and 88 people had purchased. The Granger Smith campaign brought in more than $3,000 in revenue, a 15.1x return on ad spend.

The Granger Smith campaign was both a lesson and proof. “It was exciting to see a marketing campaign I built perform so well,” Davis admits. “I still go back to that campaign from time to time to pull notes.”

“You Don’t Need to Be a Guru”

Even three years in, Davis finds ToneDen illuminating. “I like data and I like numbers,” he says. His favorite thing about the platform is getting “information that helps me make better decisions."

That’s why he’d recommend that anyone using social media to sell a product or service try ToneDen.

“You don’t need to be a guru and you don’t need to have a crazy budget,” he says. “You build it, tune it, and let it run and make adjustments as you see needed. That’s the beautiful part about the software: everything is laid out in front of you and as long as you have the drive to get your product or service into someone’s hands you can. It sells itself once you jump in and use it.”