Any origin story set in a gross, leaky waterfront warehouse in Brooklyn is sure to be good — especially when it’s peopled with music lovers so committed to showcasing underground acts that they become a wildly successful concert promoter. And that’s precisely the once-upon-a-time for AdHoc Presents.
“My partner and I were working at Pitchfork on an experimental music blog called Altered Zones,” Ric Leichtung, founder of AdHoc, tells ToneDen. “We wanted to start a new magazine... We decided to throw shows to get some extra revenue to support the magazine. The events took on a life of their own.”
Since 2012, AdHoc has taken off. After launching Brooklyn venue-bar Baby’s All Right in 2013, Leichtung’s company began booking shows at Webster Hall, which soon topped ticket sales in NYC. Today, AdHoc books an annual 500 events in New York and they’ve expanded to brick-and-mortars in Michigan and North Carolina.
It was crossing state lines that highlighted their need for a better marketing game plan. Between the three states, by the end of the year AdHoc will have “1200 events and 150,000 tickets under our belt,” Leichtung estimates.
“We needed a boost,” he says. “ToneDen offered a great solution to getting the most bang for our buck on the marketing front, especially in cities that we weren’t established in.”
“An Extreme Level of Organization”
On any night, AdHoc might be promoting as many as a dozen events in New York City alone — a level of programming that demands a marketing team that’s always on point. Fortunately, Morgan Schaffner has been on the team since 2017.
“I oversee all of the marketing efforts across all three markets that we book as well as other consulting relationships that we have,” she says. “To run the marketing for two events [minimum] a night, every night of the week, takes an extreme level organization. Ric and I have been dedicating ourselves to cracking the code.”
Two years as Head of Tour Marketing for Mom + Pop Music and constantly interacting with promoters introduced Schaffner to another side of the music industry — one that beckoned, especially when Leichtung reached out about the marketing opening.
Still, the scope of AdHoc’s business posed some challenges. There were multiple logins required for Ads Manager, different accounts, and the constant switching between marketing coordinators. Fortunately, there was ToneDen.
“When I learned that I could have an organization where all the different sub accounts are within ToneDen,” Schaffner says, “that was what sold me: to be able to see the different ads that are being built for each market and be able to basically optimize them really quickly and check over everyone’s work.”
As Leichtung sees it,
“Facebook and Instagram aren’t tools specifically designed for concert promotion. ToneDen is. That’s why we use it.”
Audience Targeting Ramps Up the ROAS
Now that AdHoc uses ToneDen, Leichtung and Schaffner have a handle on one of the most crucial components of digital marketing — conversion tracking. “The conversion tracking for ToneDen that links seamlessly with Eventbrite has been huge,” Schaffner says. “I can tell our talent buyer, we’ve spent $75 on this ad and it’s sold 43 tickets directly.”
Both the talent-buying and marketing teams benefit from this transparency, but Schaffner has found that the benefits are even greater when artists and venues are using ToneDen. “Especially for shows we’re co-promoting,” she says, “if we know the venue is using ToneDen, it’s an equalizer and provides more accountability.”
Schaffner calls ToneDen’s audience targeting “eye-opening” and “astounding.” For an April show at Baby’s All Right by Swedish electronic musician The Field, AdHoc ran a conversion campaign—with one big challenge: the artist doesn’t have a Facebook page (you may know him as Cordouan, James Larsson, Lars Blek, Loops of Your Heart, or Porte).
“We weren’t really sure how that was going to perform,” Schaffner admits, “but with the similar artists targeting, our website visitors, and our MailChimp audience, it was awesome.”
What does awesome look like? Spending a mere $116 on a fifteen-day campaign, reaching an audience of nearly 7,000, and bringing in 44 orders. AdHoc added $1,252 in revenue — almost an 11x return on ad spend.
“With Longevity in Mind”
Both Leichtung and Schaffner agree that anybody promoting a high volume — and thinking about the long game — would benefit from ToneDen. “Once we get the same artist for multiple runs, it’ll be great to compare those ads so seamlessly using the tag feature,” Schaffner says.
“ToneDen is for any venue or concert promoter that wants to optimize their ads and be able to do future comparisons with longevity in mind.”
And longevity is at the heart of AdHoc’s vision for the future. “We want to partner with local and independent venues in different cities to help them compete with the Live Nations, the AEGs— all the big dogs,” Leichtung says. “We’re seeing more and more independent venues that aren’t able to operate sustainably because they don’t have best practices in place. They don’t have all that crucial knowledge.”
ToneDen is helping Leichtung realize what he only dreamt of back when he founded AdHoc. “It was really about building that community online,” he recalls. “Growing the events gave us an opportunity to build a community locally. And now there are really several communities in different cities. It makes you feel like you’re doing something really good.”