3 elements of a successful entertainment venture

Last week I got a call from the founder of a new podcasting company.

As he explained the concept, I noticed there were 3 things he kept coming back to. They felt familiar.

I thought back to a meeting I took several years before with the CFO of a sizeable entertainment company in the UK.

At the time I was exploring options in the ‘buy’ side of the business (I’d spent the previous few years on the sell side as an agent).

As we discussed various nuances and fine points of building live event properties and marketing to millennials, the CFO took a pause and said;

‘You know what; there are only really 3 elements that matter. Talent, production and marketing. We can cut them up any way we like, but that’s what it all comes down to.’

This is reflected a number of times by CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz in his memoir ‘Who is Michael Ovitz?’ – from his formative work at CAA, to the ill-fated spells at AMG and Disney, and onto his roles with technology companies in Silicon Valley.

Whether it’s movies, festivals, podcasts, TV, eSports, conferences, or just about any creative endeavour that’s being put out into the world, you need that blend of Talent, Production, and Marketing.

And the real magic? Finding the alchemy between them.

The rise of Edutainment

Education as business development (and beyond), teachers becoming more than just the new DJs, and the foundations of a big shift that’s here to stay.

 

At the start of 2018 I drafted an article entitled ‘Education is the new business development’.

It sat in my draft posts folder for way too long (this post explains why).

Here’s a taster of what I put together:

 

Media publishers can no longer rely on display ads, and a brand are less interested in just the media buy.

As a B2B sales software startup you can spend months trying to explain the benefits of your offering succinctly, let alone closing a deal.

If you’re tasked with heading up innovative ideas in a large company, a significant part of your workload is putting together information for internal teams to understand just what you’re up to and why they should care.

It’s tiring.

Continue reading “The rise of Edutainment”

Mind the Gap: A primer on Biases and Mental Models (slide deck)

Here’s an annotated and somewhat abbreviated version of a talk I did back in May for Hyper Island’s Learning Lab in New York City, focused on biases, decision making and mental models.

It wasn’t my initial intention to do this as a talk; I’d just collected a few snippets around the topic for my own learning purposes and had begun adding a few metaphors and examples to help build my understanding.

The area of biases and mental models is something I’ve long understood, but only to a very rudimentary level. Up until recently I’d never thought properly about what a confirmation bias actually is (or what it means), how Occam’s Razor can be used to help make a decision, or why we overly focus on the victors in business, sports, arts and life.

Continue reading “Mind the Gap: A primer on Biases and Mental Models (slide deck)”

Introducing Sustainable Foundations

Sustainable Foundations

As regular readers of this blog will know I’m very interested in the future of work for people across the world.

Closer to home I’ve been following my brother Murray‘s path with interest as he works in a hugely complex, exciting, and rapidly evolving area that’s becoming ever more important to our future:  sustainability.

Off the back of him sharing his learnings and insights, I’ve started to scratch below the surface of what sustainability means and why it matters. It’s fascinating, and it’s everywhere; affecting just about every industry in every country.

A few months ago Murray called me to ask me about some of the innovation workshops I’ve been involved in. He felt sustainability and innovation were more closely linked than they appeared, and there could also be better ways to support freelancers, entrepreneurs, employees and companies in demystifying the topic.

Over this Summer we’ve been exploring how we could deliver education experiences in sustainability for people working in modern business, with a focus on content that’s practical, immersive and relatable.

During this journey we’ve seen there’s so much more to sustainability than meets the eye: it can be a lever for huge innovation and value creation no matter your industry or company size, and it’s moving way beyond being considered a compliance box to tick or a nice-to-have CSR initiative.

Here are some of the bigger indicators:

  • 1/3 of consumers prefer sustainable brands, £81bn market for ethical products
  • 75% of millennials would take a pay cut to work for a responsible company
  • United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals present a $12tn market opportunity
  • Sustainable companies have 46% better share price performance and 112.5% better return on assets
  • IKEA nearing 3x increase in sustainable product sales
  • Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands grew 50% faster than the rest of the business, delivering over 60% of growth in 2016

Outside of the innovation and value creation side, it’s not an overstatement to suggest that the future of the planet depends on us understanding and taking action on this topic – the pressures on our world are real, and increasing.

Whilst we can’t single-handedly save the world just yet, I’m excited to share our first offerings under our Sustainable Foundations banner, with more to come over the next few months.

> Sustainable Foundations Courses: In-Person

A series of fast-moving, interactive and practical sustainability workshops for modern business, lasting either 1/2 day, 1 day or 2 days.

We demystify the core concepts of sustainability, with a focus on innovation, growth and value creation.

Sessions are booking now throughout the rest of 2018 and into 2019 for teams of 10 or more.

> Sustainable Foundations Course: Interactive Webinar

Regular interactive 90 minute sessions focused on core concepts and providing you with a toolkit to take into your business.

> Free email course

A free 10-day self-paced email course to help you level up and explore what sustainability means for you, your business and the wider world.

 

Whilst the goal of Sustainable Foundations is to open up the topic for the uninitiated we’d also love to hear from you if you’re more experienced; we’re constantly seeking to get new insights, viewpoints and ideas so don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to see what we’re up to.

And if you’re in New York City on September 28th, join us for a special New York Climate Week edition of the course at the wonderful Betaworks Studios in the Meatpacking District. We have a couple of seats still remaining – you can register here.

 

Curious? Find out more at www.sustainable-foundations.org or drop me a line directly.

Tickets Podcast: Scaling human connection through music with James Beshara (Head of Music, Airbnb)

Today’s episode is the last in this first season of Tickets.

We’ll be taking a break for the summer before returning in September.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard so far, please take a moment to leave a rating or review via your podcasting service of choice, or just tell a friend – we’d really appreciate it.

We’d also love to hear your feedback, ideas and suggestions for season 2 – feel free to drop us a line by visiting hbureau.com/tickets

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> Acast

> Google Play

> Our podcast landing page

On the guest list today is James Beshara, global head of concerts at Airbnb.

James leads Airbnb’s growing presence in the world of music experiences, providing guests, hosts and artists with new opportunities to share and enjoy live music.

Inevitably it was at our season finale that we finally encountered a ton of of technical problems.

Luckily James was more than accommodating – letting us overrun so we got a decent amount of time to chat and rescuing the episode by setting up the recording on his side as my laptop was misbehaving so much.

Listen on for James’s insights into the way Airbnb think about experiences, the importance of intimate concerts, and where to find the best green room in LA.

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Episode overview

04:00 Airbnb concerts’ start point

08:30 The growth of music consumption in digital vs live

12:00 Scaling human connection through music

14:00 Learnings from Tilt into Airbnb

17:00 The Airbnb concerts business model -from early stage artists to international headliners

22:00 Differentiating in a crowded market

27:00 A pop up green room in Los Angeles

 

Tickets Podcast: Building a global electronic music brand with Elrow’s Victor de la Serna

What do you get if you combine circus performance, immersive theatre, and electronic music? The answer is El row, a global events brand based in Barcelona.

The party started at a venue in the city in 2010, but this business goes back to the mid 19th century, staying in the same family for nearly 150 years.

> Apple Podcasts

> Stitcher

> Acast

> Google Play

> Our podcast landing page

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On the guest list today is Victor de la Serra, El Row’s global talent director, overseeing programming for events around the world.

In this highly entertaining conversation, we talk about the importance of thinking about the long game, how to stay ahead in a competitive market, and when mud and rain aren’t as bad as they seem.

 

Episode overview

04:00 The family business from 1870 to today

22:00 Why Barcelona is such a hotspot

24:30 The secret behind the ‘Tickets’ name

27:30 The tipping point for Elrow from local party to global brand

35:00 Elrow’s themes

46:00 Staying ahead in a competitive market, and maintaining work/life balance

51:00 Taking over one of London’s busiest shopping districts

How connected is your community?

I recently met someone running a daily newsletter focusing on news and trends in his industry.

It’s been going for a few months. He was understandably excited as he could see it starting to get some traction after a considerable time investment.

I asked him how he knew this. Was it sign ups, open rate, clicks, or something else?

He replied it was because people were opted in.

Here’s the thing – he wasn’t stating the obvious.

He didn’t mean what we normally think of as being opted in. Not just meeting GDPR requirements, or striving towards what Seth Godin refers to as ‘permission marketing’.

What he meant was going the next level beyond that.

Being opted in to the degree you’re invested.

Where you have a say in what’s delivered.

Where you’re a patron.

Being truly opted in.

People were replying to the newsletter unprompted to suggest improvements, new areas of the industry to explore, and making connections to other people he should speak with to get more feedback and ideas.

They were helping him craft the vision and roadmap of what he was doing.

It made his path clearer and his responsibility to his audience stronger. It made him more accountable.

You’ll see this trait in many strong communities and networks.

A good example is the successful Dutch newspaper De Correspondent.

After taking only 8 days to raise over 1 million euros in a crowdfunding campaign, last year they started a collaboration with NYU to better understand how communities and media companies can work more closely, with the public being at the heart of the publication’s work.

More broadly, the level of this deeper opt-in is a good heuristic for how powerful and connected a community is.

It could be a newsletter, a Slack group, or even a professional sports team.

 

What can you create where people are truly opted-in?

Tickets Podcast: What’s next in travel & tourism ticketing with Leith Stevens of Redeam

Think about the last trip you booked. You may have done it all from your mobile phone.

Flights – Kayak or SkyScanner.

Hotels? Expedia, Tablet, or maybe Hotel Tonight

Transfers – well, Uber and Lift make it easy

But what about a tour, an exhibition or an attraction at your destination? Even if the booking is online you may still need a paper ticket to gain entry. It’s a headache for both consumers & businesses alike.

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> Our podcast landing page

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On the guest list today is Leith Stevens of Redeem, a Colorado based startup building digital ticket solutions for experiences around the globe.

In this conversation Leith gives us an insight into the inner workings of the tourism industry, the most interesting shifts in the ticketing business, and valuable advice for startups in all industries looking to go and build the right thing.

 

Episode Overview

04:00 How technology has impacted travel & tourism – from flights to hotels and tours

13:00 Lessons learned from startup 1 to startup 2

16:30 Disney’s Magic Band and the growth of multi-day passes for attractions

21:00 The fragmented tours & attractions market in 2018

23:30 A branding & digital marketing challenge

25:30 Starting Redeam – failed experiments and successful anchors

31:30 Trends in the ticketing business

35:30 Growth in the timeslot model

39:20 Resellers, distributors and secondary markets

41:30 Taking a trip to the Mexican cenotes

 

Tickets Podcast: The evolution of spaces to places with Bart Higgins, Partner at WhatIf Innovation

As the retail apocalypse looms large, the hospitality and entertainment industries are sitting up to take note, and the world of commercial office real estate is coming under threat like never before. The big question is what happens next.

On the guest list today is Bart Higgins, a partner at the international innovation consultancy WhatIf.

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> Our podcast landing page

Bart runs the firm’s 4D Experience practice, helping companies across retail, workspace, hospitality and entertainment identify new business models, create better experiences and build their internal capabilities.

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In this conversation Bart shares his insights into what other industries can learn from retail’s struggles, the future of the company town, and how real estate owners can reimagine the experiences they provide.

Episode overview
05:00 Lucky breaks and designing a workplace for Wired Magazine
13:00 Reimagining retail store design – people, place and technology
19:00 Lessons from Little Waitrose and Whole Foods
27:00 The new commercial opportunity in the world of work
30:00 The office apocalypse, the 3 models of real estate ownership, and 3 big shifts
37:00 The future of the company town
42:00 Advice for real estate developers
45:00 The emergence of an important new hybrid role
47:30 Managing tension between old and new working styles
52:00 Thinking human
55:00 Iron Maiden and supermarket shocks

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Tickets Podcast: Fusing music and technology with Sonar Festival’s Ventura Barba

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> Our podcast landing page

Make a list of the most respected international festivals and Sonar is bound to feature.

Starting in 1994 as a 3,000 capacity event in Barcelona, Sonar has grown to host over 120,000 attendees in the city each year and now has a presence in locations as diverse as Istanbul, Buenos Aires and Hong Kong.

On the guest list today is Ventura Barba, CEO of Sonar’s parent company Advanced Music. Having known the Sonar founders since that very first edition, he spent time at BMG and Yahoo Music before reconnecting with the founding team in 2009.

In this conversation we talk about how Sonar take their concept into new cities around the globe, the importance of featuring new technologies , and how brands are deepening their partnerships with festivals.

Episode overview

02:30 Sonar from 1994 to 2018

07:30 Expanding around the world and thinking about creative networks first

16:00 Sonar’s technology focus

26:00 Going out of your comfort zone to enable longevity

28:00 Brands as co-creators