The Birchmere is a music hall with history, a place where folks like Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett feel so at home they’ll stop by to play impromptu sets when they’re in town. Originally 100-seats when it opened in 1966, the club made its name internationally with its bluegrass and folk lineup; a 2016 Washington Post article touting The Birchmere’s impact credited the venue with turning ’70s D.C. into a bluegrass “hotbed.”
The Birchmere may’ve expanded to a larger location in Alexandria, but its music-first legacy lives on. Their new spot has two rooms: the Flex Stage with a 1000-person standing capacity and The Music Hall that seats 500. The latter is a “Listening Room,” Dave Beebe tells ToneDen, in keeping with owner Gary Oelze’s request for silence during performances.
Officially the Lighting Director, Beebe is also The Birchmere’s unofficial social media and IT director. He’s been in the industry thirty-eight years, the last fifteen of which he’s spent at The Birchmere, and he knows the club’s lore like his shoe size. “We are the last venue Ray Charles played live,” Beebe says. “Lyle Lovett started here as an opener. Mumford and Sons were an opener in 2008.” As the club’s programming has gone beyond bluegrass, its lineups have included artists like “Johnny Cash, Wayne Newton, Foreigner, Melissa Etheridge … Jerry Lee Lewis is here in June.”
Even legends need a leg up. When you’re routinely making Pollstar lists, the quality of your digital marketing has to match the quality of your club. That’s why, in The Birchmere’s 52nd year, Beebe turned to ToneDen.
“The Whole Thing was Aha!”
Beebe has a to-do list that would have another person’s head spinning. A typical day begins in the booking office, where Beebe assesses ads, checking in with Facebook. Next he switches to the lighting, setting up for the day’s shows. Don’t look for any down time in Beebe’s schedule. “Any time I’m not physically doing anything, I’m on my laptop, setting up an ad, doing a graphic, checking and responding to Tweets, reading message boards and websites for Social Media and lighting and sound.” During the show, Beebe shoots photos and posts them on social media; after, he breaks down it all down before heading home.
With a plate that full, Beebe can’t afford to be in the dark about his ads’ performance. “Before [ToneDen],” he tells us, “we were doing an occasional Facebook ad but had no real idea if we were making any impact. Now we can see exactly what is happening. The whole thing was aha!”
Beebe, a self-professed early adopter of the internet and social media, is humble. “ToneDen has been very helpful with a novice like me, helping to a better job and leading me through steps needed.”
The “Easy to Use and Very Satisfying” Appeal of DEAs
When you have The Birchmere’s following, your shows have variable needs. “We still don’t do a huge amount of ads at a time yet,” Beebe says. “We have over 100 shows at a time: not all need help and not all need help right away.”
That’s why DEAs, or Dynamic Event Ads, have been such a hit at The Birchmere. With a single campaign, Beebe can market an entire calendar of events, drawn from the club’s Ticketmaster catalogue. The event on which a visitor clicks determines the specific ad a potential ticket-buyer sees, making questions of audience relevancy a thing of the past.
“If you want to see how your ads are actually doing, what they’re doing for you, and want an easy way to advertise all of your events at once essentially, definitely use ToneDen — especially DEAs,” Beebe says.
His experience with DEAs was nothing short of stellar. To advertise a lineup that included Zoe Keating, the Amy Ray Band, Robert Earl Keen, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan’s Grits and Glamour Tour, Marc Cohn, Incognito, The Righteous Brothers, Rob Schneider, Gordon Lightfoot, and many more, Beebe spent only $14 (that’s less than The Birchmere’s epic open-faced turkey sandwich).
Two weeks later (yep, that’s a dollar a day), Beebe’s DEA had brought in more than $4000 in ticket sales — practically a 300x return on ad spend. It’s no wonder that this relatively new addition to ToneDen is Beebe’s favorite feature. “Just start it and watch the money roll in,” he says. “It’s been amazing!”
“Just start it and watch the money roll in. It’s been amazing!”
Even Icons Update
After using DEAs, Beebe believes change is on the horizon.“I had no expectations since I wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” he admits, “but I just love it: so easy and great results. I think it will take advertising by storm on nothing else than it’s simplicity and ease of getting a return.”
How does The Birchmere remain not just revered but relevant after all these years? Partnering with a platform that allows them to evolve in advertising is one way. Bootstrappers and jacks-of-all-trades like Beebe have always made the music industry what it is; with ToneDen, their marketing lives become easier, allowing them to keep pursuing all those passions.
“Anyone that needs to do advertising in Social Media” should use ToneDen, Beebe says. “It is certainly working for our industry.”