Blues divinity Muddy Waters said of the Windy City, “Going to Chicago was like going out of the world.” At Concord Music Hall, a 1500-cap venue tucked between Logan Square and Wicker Park, it is easy to forget the Blue Line across the street. Whether you’re catching Gogol Bordello or Snoop Dogg, a show at Concord throbs with the fierce energy of Chicago. “We’re the biggest of the small rooms in town,” says Marketing Director Jacob Schneider.

Now in its sixth year, Concord Music Hall puts on an annual 200 shows. Schneider coordinates with talent buyers, agencies, and artist management, readying marketing plans and announcements. Meanwhile, Digital Marketing Strategist/Design Coordinator Katie Gwen runs ads day-to-day, developing content for Concord’s socials and digital marketing — with a little help.

“I pretty much live in ToneDen,” Gwen admits. “It’s in my feed all day.”

Jacob Schneider, Marketing Director and Katie Gwen, Digital Marketing Strategist/Design Coordinator

More Efficiency = More Ads

Talking to Schneider and Gwen reveals a few challenges venues face — but more strategies they use to tackle them.

“We have our house shows and then we have promoters’ shows,” Schneider says, a former Music Journalism major. “If Riot Fest is coming in, they have a plan in place. The show’s got a thousand dollar marketing budget that they’re going to run, but we’re also going to say, ‘Give us $200 at the announce or on-sale. Let’s see what we can do.’ We’ll use ToneDen, create audiences, or shift them based on performance. Then we’ll send that to Riot Fest, and say, ‘This was our cost per purchase at the on-sale. How did it fare with what you guys did?’

“A lot of times, venue ads do better than promoter ads and even artist ads,” Schneider admits.

“ToneDen has been a big help for us to keep that all organized in one place.”

Before Concord signed on with ToneDen, building digital ads could be a glitchy waiting game. One thing Gwen adores about the platform is “being able to fix and edit things instantly.” Plus, “when we reach out to the ToneDen team, working with them is the nicest thing.”

For Gwen, who studied Live Performance Management, “the aha moment was realizing how much you could duplicate and re-use. Especially with a lot of EDM shows, where you see something that worked in the same house market, you want to duplicate that or make minor tweaks. Instead of building every interest list or custom audience, you can tweak this interest list or remove that audience rather than recreating everything over and over again.”

We’re just being more efficient because of the product,” Schneider says. Gwen adds: “And we’re making more ads because of it.”

The G Jones Show: A Doubleheader

For a recent G Jones show, Concord Music Hall ran two playbooks: an Event Announce Playbook followed by an Instagram Stories On-Sale Playbook.

For the first Playbook, Concord ran an engagement campaign for a contest, where fans could enter by responding to the post. Those who did got a Facebook Messenger notification when the G Jones show went on-sale. “We spent $26 and got over 200 subscribers to Messenger,” Gwen says. “It was a really well planned-out contest: earlier in the morning we announced Snoop Dogg, so our engagement was pretty high. We timed it right. We ended up getting a bunch of really great subscribers for that show and we’re about to re-target the people that didn’t win for buying tickets to the show. So we have a pretty slick, well-oiled machine for contests now.”

Just nine days later, Concord followed up with an Instagram Stories On-Sale Playbook. With this playbook, ToneDen helped Gwen and Schneider launch a campaign to increase ticket sales via Instagram Stories. Anyone that engaged could swipe up to instantly load your ticketing page. For only $25, this playbook brought in more than $1,600 in revenue, a stunning 64.2x return on ad spend. The cost per purchase? A little more than a dollar.

“This Great Power Punch”

Schneider appreciates the messaging playbooks; Gwen, those related to Instagram stories. “The fact that you can just run an Instagram story rather than having this really weirdly shaped video on your Facebook or Instagram feed was phenomenal,” she tells us. It’s helped her “really get creative with how structuring videos. It’s definitely like this great power punch right before we have this show coming up.”

As Schneider sees it, ToneDen’s marketing strategies also offer fan-building opportunities. “We’re cultivating potentially new fans because these ads are going to go outside of our network based on what we’re targeting … The Messenger thing is another level of personalization and it’s more direct. They’re going to see that. It’s like getting a text message.”

Who should be using ToneDen? In Gwen’s opinion, artists, for sure. “Being able to test interest audiences and seeing, this is what I found. Like, this is what my management thinks I sound like, and this is what my label thinks I sound like. Putting it out there and seeing who’s right, you’d be able to directly target much better.”

But artists, promoters, management, and venues alike can benefit. The platform delivers on efficiency and ease, empowering users with knowledge. As Schneider attests, “ToneDen enables you to work smarter and see how the audiences are performing and use your data in the best way possible. It saves you a lot of time and uncertainty because it gives you a better idea of what the performance really is with your own data.”