BigChampagne CEO on Live Nation Deal: 'We’re Going From Playing a Little Club to the Biggest Stage in the World'

 

News that entertainment conglomerate Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, operates more than 100 venues across the U.S. and is partnered with some of music’s biggest artists, is buying fledgling data analytics company BigChampagne came as somewhat of a surprise on Wednesday. Naturally, the David and Goliath trope applies, but dig a little deeper, and this marriage of trade information and consumer audience makes sense.

BigChampagne founder and CEO Eric Garland, who along with 26 employees will work under the Live Nation umbrella (Garland will become general manager of livenation.com, and co-founder Joe Fleischer will hold the title of svp of content and product strategy), explains: “For Live Nation, it means they’re becoming a technology-driven company; For us, we’re going from playing a little club to the biggest stage in the world -- it’s an eco-system to come into and an opportunity to take. I haven’t even begun to wrap my head around how big these properties are together.”

After 10 months of talks, one would think Garland, who launched BigChampagne in 2001, has become accustomed to the idea. But judging by his Twitter feed in the hours after the announcement was made on New York Times’ Media Decoder blog, he’s clearly still in the bleary-eyed throes of a honeymoon phase.

And deservedly so, when BigChampagne launched its Ultimate Chart, Garland says it was “aspirational.” This merger with Live Nation makes measuring an artist’s buzz across multiple platforms a feasible reality. “My goal was to really make it 360 degrees,” Garland tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Merch, touring,  endorsement money, sponsorships, licensing, recorded music... I went begging to all the usual suspects in all those areas that traditionally get ignored as chart eligible and started licensing data. That’s where this all started -- with Ticketmaster, who gave me the ticketing data. It didn’t start as a M&A discussion at all.”

But it quickly turned into one, as Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino and executive chairman Irving Azoff saw in the BigChampagne team a window into their digital future, where mining data can, in theory, translate to a better customer experience.  Says Garland: “The mandate is to take all the underlying capacity behind our B-to-B product and extend it to the consumer – so we’re trying to improve fan experiences using data analytics. We’re getting to know [the consumers] better and we’re connecting people with things they love which are nearby, either in physical space or time space.”

If things go according to plan, soon the Youtube hit will be quantifiable alongside a platinum-selling record, social media and traditional broadcast will factor in along with streaming services and sales, or, says Garland, “what’s really most popular.”

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin

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