Photo credit: Steve Thrasher

Nederlander Concerts has long promoted live events in the most established, exciting venues: Hollywood Pantages, Greek Theatre, Orpheum Theatre. Yet when COVID-19 struck and in-person shows were curtailed due to CDC guidelines, the 108-year-old firm seized an opportunity to innovate. 

“We wanted to still be engaged with our followers and patrons and bring something that was fun and lighthearted for them to enjoy while at home,” Quinn Kim, Nederlander’s Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, tells ToneDen. “This led to creating a free virtual programming series for a couple of our venues: City National Grove of Anaheim had Block Party; at Vina Robles Amphitheatre, we started Wine Down Wednesdays. These series incorporated a live musical element (i.e., a local DJ) with cooking tutorials and cocktail sessions—very fun stuff!”

But Nederlander Concerts didn’t stop there. They took the fun one step further by experimenting with drive-in shows with simultaneous livestreams at City National Grove of Anaheim, and they used ToneDen to market their first act: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. 

The results? The show sold out so fast they had to add a third night. Massive revenue generated from the livestream component. And a whole new slew of drive-in/livestream shows on the horizon.

“Fans want live entertainment, but in a safe environment,” says Kim. Using ToneDen to market the shows and reach fans near and far, “we were able to achieve this successfully.”  

Photo Credit: Steve Thrasher

Nederlander Transforms The Live Music Experience

Producing and marketing a drive-in show—and a livestream show—presented a new and exciting challenge to Nederlander Concerts. This was uncharted territory.

“Everything was being done for the first time,” admits Kim. “We had a bunch of meetings with our marketing team, our bookers, the general manager and the director of operations at the venue. And we looked at other drive-in shows that were happening across the country to make sure our marketing was on point. We had all our bases covered to make it as seamless as possible.”

Though drive-in movies were once commonplace, drive-in shows in the grips of a pandemic are anything but common. Planning them takes serious strategy and a rigorous attention to regulatory details, not to mention copious communication with attendees. “We wanted to make the drive-in series as contactless as possible and provide a safe environment for everyone attending.”

Kim and the Nederlander team did everything to ensure fans were prepared for the unique experience. From event staff in PPE to contact-less merch pickups to online refreshment orders, “no stone was left unturned. Since it was a new concept, we wanted to make sure that fans were aware of event policies and guidelines, so they had a clear understanding of what their night would entail. We took enhanced health and safety measures for all our fans and staff.”

With the scaffolding in place, it was time to get marketing. Nederlander Concerts has used ToneDen to market live events for years, but this was their first time running a campaign for a drive-in show—and a livestream.

How Nederlander Used ToneDen to Market Their First Act

They started with a presale campaign for the first two Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness shows. Spending just under a hundred dollars, they quickly saw a 35x return on ad spend. Nederlander was floored. “The presales for those blew up so fast we had to add a third show. ToneDen was also used to promote tickets to the livestream on the Saturday show for fans who were unable to attend the live show or those who lived across the country.”

ToneDen Campaign Insights for Pre-Sale Campaign

Livestreaming in 2020 means unparalleled reach to fans around the world—and ToneDen’s audience targeting features are perfect for this. “ToneDen has this great feature that allowed us to target fans who attended past Andrew McMahon shows,” Kim says. “This helped expand our reach to find the diehard dedicated fans who would be ecstatic to listen to Everything in Transit (McMahon’s 2005 album as Jack’s Mannequin) in its entirety.”

People across the country tuned in for the livestream, from New York to Nebraska. And Kim was blown away by the turnout: “We were taken aback at how many livestream tickets were sold. The livestream partnered with On Location Live and a portion of the livestream tickets benefited Andrew's Dear Jack foundation, which was great: we raised a lot of money for his charity.”

ToneDen Targeting Ingredients to Advertise Livestream
“ToneDen is a great marketing tool for a venue to promote their livestream, whether free or paid.”

In fact, the initial livestream did so well that Kim and the Nederlander team got creative. They used footage from McMahon’s Sunday show to brand an on-demand video that would continue to benefit the charity. 

Thinking Outside-of-the-Box with ToneDen

What does a live events originator like Nederlander think of livestream’s future? Kim is enthusiastic. “With increasing updates and technologies, we're seeing more high-quality livestreams and many more folks are now open to the idea of livestreaming. I think the concept will stick around for a bit, but of course, there's a feeling of experiencing events in-person that you can't quite capture from a livestream.”

Still, Nederlander was able to capture the energy of a sold-out show—and use ToneDen to drive streaming traffic, bringing the Andrew McMahon experience to fans across the globe. “ToneDen is a great marketing tool for a venue to promote their livestream, whether free or paid,” says Kim. “They've adapted so quickly to the climate and rolled out some very cool new features, such as StreamLinks. You’ll definitely make your money back and more.”

Kim encourages other live events veterans to collaborate with ToneDen on programming innovations in these unprecedented times. “Be creative. We thought outside-the-box with our virtual programming series and that was a huge hit. And even with these drive in shows, we had to think outside the box, but in a safe way for all the fans.”

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