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Sweden’s Summerburst turns fans into influencers

Sweden’s Summerburst will this year invite all festivalgoers to work with it on campaigns and around events leading up to the festival this summer.

The Live Nation-owned dance music event, which this year celebrates its tenth edition, is asking fans to become ‘Summerburst Icons’ via a partnership with influencer marketing platform Society Icon.

Using Society Icon’s technology – which connects companies with fans and customers, or ‘icons’, who market the brands via their own channels – the festival is aiming to “build a community of its own where everyone, regardless of their number of followers on social media, are welcome and can enjoy exclusive material and offers,” according to a Society Icon statement, and “apply for campaigns they want to work with – both with the festival directly [and] even with the festival’s partners.”

Kristofer Åkesson, the longtime marketing and communications director for Live Nation Sweden, joined Society Icon in July. In addition to Live Nation, with which it has worked for a year and a half, the company’s clients include Warner Music, H&M and magazine publisher Aller Media.

“This partnership with Live Nation and Summerburst is completely in line with how the market is moving”

“Summerburst is and has always been about our fans; we are nothing without them,” says festival founder Anders Boström. “The fact that, with the Society Icon technology, we can now can start working with and creating Summerburst 2020 together with the fans, on their own social channels, is […] super exciting.”

Mose Haregot, founder and CEO of Society Icon, adds: “Society Icon is all about putting the individual at the centre of communication and marketing, regardless of who you are or how many followers you have.

“To keep developing this partnership with Live Nation and Summerburst like this is completely in line with how the market and behaviour is moving, and proves that it is in the meeting between people and brands that we can create completely new values ​​and business, and let consumers create together with the brands they love.”

More information about Summerburst 2020, which will take place in June, will be released later this month. Last year’s festival, at Stockholm Olympic Stadium, featured performances from Calvin Harris, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Tiësto, Will Sparks, R3hab and more.


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Live Nation SE’s Kristofer Åkesson joins start-up Society Icon

Kristofer Åkesson, formerly marketing and communications director for Live Nation Sweden, has joined Swedish marketing start-up Society Icon.

Åkesson, whose achievements at Live Nation this year include Swedish House Mafia’s Stockholm comeback shows and the first Lollapalooza Stockholm, becomes COO and partner at Society Icon, which connects companies with influential fans and customers – ‘icons’ – who market the brands via their own channels.

Existing Society Icon clients include Live Nation, Warner Music, H&M and magazine publisher Aller Media.

The company recently closed an investment round, and is valued at 81 million kr (US$8.6m).

“With his knowledge, experience and ideas, he will be invaluable in our continued expansion”

“I leave one dream job for another,” comments Åkesson, who had been with Live Nation for nearly a decade. “Throughout the years at Live Nation I’ve met many companies that offered different solutions for influencer marketing, but never found a good and efficient alternative.

“When Mose [Haregot], CEO and founder, presented Society Icon one and a half years ago, I immediately saw that the unique idea and technology behind it – where the ordinary person and their followers are central – is not only is the future of influencer marketing, but ultimately also for marketing and consumer loyalty in general.”

Haregot adds: “Kristofer is a dream hire. I have always been impressed by his ability to understand and foresee trends and behaviours, and as a client to us for one and a half years, he has also made the product better. Since day one he has understood the long-term potential of Society Icon, and with his knowledge, experience and ideas, he will be invaluable in our continued expansion.”


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The rise of influencer-based marketing strategies

Are you seeing email open rates decline? Possibly higher cost-per-clicks in social advertising? Are website visitors spending less and less time on your site? If so, you’re not alone.

Businesses are struggling to stay relevant and to get in front of the right customer, at the right time, with the right call to action. This decline in relevance could be contributed to the ever-growing world of influencer-based marketing.

Individuals who are experts within their respective fields – be it an Instagram swimsuit model or an incredible athlete – are able to engage with their followers in a more intimate and connected way than individual brands can achieve via direct marketing efforts such as email or SMS.

The reason? Those direct messaging and direct marketing outlets have become so frequently used that consumers are almost immune to their effect. As a result, the outlets no longer have the strong impact that they once had. The text messages come in and consumers immediately ignore them or request for them to stop, whereas the emails go straight to junk or promotions folders.

On the other hand, as consumers, we extend trust to influencers that we recognise and admire. We award them credibility. These internet stars now have more ability to influence than ever before, due to the increasing popularity and prevalence of social media.

Direct messaging and direct marketing outlets have become so frequently used that consumers are almost immune to their effect

In a recent study conducted by Vamp Brands, 61% of people reported that they have interacted with an influencer on social media in some capacity, at least once a day. It was also reported that 87% of shoppers were inspired by an influencer to make a purchase.

However, in many cases, the best “influencer” is a customer, regardless of what their Instagram following may be. Why? Because a customer isn’t doing a mass promotion, they are selecting those of their friends who would be most likely buy. It’s a much more personal approach.

Right now, most e-commerce sites are not taking advantage of the most opportune time to convert existing customers into promoters. The best moment to ask a customer to share a promotion or product with friends is immediately post-checkout – no sooner – in order to avoid any disruption of the checkout conversion flow.

Furthermore, the customer is most excited and engaged just after buying, presenting the ideal opportunity to ask them to share the purchase with friends, or to encourage them to share coupon codes, offering rewards for the recruitment of any new customers.

In many cases, the best “influencer” is a customer, regardless of what their Instagram following may be

Therefore, when brands market to that customer – or to the people they recommended – they are going to convert a lot higher percentage than standard, direct marketing efforts, that go out to an audience of people without any basis of trust.

This is the foundation of influencer marketing and the reason why it works so much more effectively. Referral marketing tools are getting more advanced as machine learning algorithms become more refined, meaning that overall effectiveness and conversions will only continue to improve.

Essentially, influencer marketing is word-of-mouth marketing and, in the future, influencer and peer-to-peer marketing efforts are going to merge even more closely. As direct marketing becomes less and less effective, these modern kinds of marketing are only going to have more room to grow.

It’s time to make sure that, as a brand, you are properly enabled with the right tools and campaigns to support this shift.


Mark Miller is the co-founder and chief executive of TicketSocket, a white label ticketing and registration service for venues and events.

UTA acquires influencer agency DBA

United Talent Agency (UTA) has bolstered its roster of digital talent with the acquisition of Digital Brand Architects (DBA), which represents more than 140 internet-famous artists and ‘influencers’.

Founded in 2010 by CEO Raina Penchansky, and co-owned by the Azoff Company since 2013, DBA’s clients collectively reach over 200 million followers, spanning travel, family, fashion, food, home and beauty. Its roster includes Gabi Gregg (Gabi Fresh), Aimee Song (Song of Style), Camila Coelho, Rach Parcell (Pink Peonies), Amber Lewis (Amber Interiors), Gina Homolka (Skinnytaste), Gaby Dalkin (What’s Gaby Cooking), Naomi Davis (Love Taza), Genevieve Padalecki (Now & Gen), Julia Engel (Gal Meets Glam) and Emily Schuman (Cupcakes and Cashmere).

DBA will continue to operate as a separate company from its offices in New York and Los Angeles.

UTA has also acquired DBA’s interest in Digital Brand Products (DBP), which builds and brokers new fashion, beauty and other licensed products around DBA’s clients, and Dear Media, DBA’s audio studio and distribution vehicle. DBP-launched products include dozens of retail brands, including Something Navy at Nordstrom and Gal Meets Glam, while Dear Media has developed 20 influencer-led podcasts since its launch in mid-2018, with an additional 15 in development.

“Raina and her team have built an extraordinary company, with an inspiring, client-first culture, that has allowed them to be true leaders in the influencer marketplace,” says Brent Weinstein, UTA partner and chief innovation officer, who will oversee DBA, DBP and Dear Media.

“Raina and her team have built an extraordinary company”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with the entire DBA, DBP and Dear Media teams to help ensure that our organisations and clients continue to be leaders and innovators in this fast-growing space.”

“Simply put, DBA and UTA are a great fit,” adds Penchansky. “Both companies were out front in recognising the potential of the digital talent marketplace and we have like-minded missions, values and culture. By joining one of the premier companies in the global talent industry, DBA has an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate growth, offer a new wealth of creative opportunities to clients and dedicate even more resources to expanding our leadership in innovation.”

UTA was the first major booking agency to launch a digital division, in 2006, and today represents over 100 online stars, including Emma Chamberlain, Shane Dawson, Karina Garcia, Shay Mitchell, Rhett and Link and Wengie.

Irving Azoff, founder of the Azoff Company, comments: “When we invested in DBA in 2013 we recognised the future of the company. In the following five-plus years, we have seen tremendous success with the venture as DBA became an industry leader in the space. It’s great to put two friends together and we wish DBA continued success under the UTA banner.”

The acquisition of DBA follows last year’s takeover of electronic music agency Circle and esports companies Press X and Everyday Influencers. UTA sold a minority stake to private-equity firms Investcorp and PSP Investments last August.


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Superstar UK YouTuber Jacksepticeye signs with WME

William Morris Endeavor (WME) has added to its growing roster of digital stars by signing popular YouTuber Jacksepticeye from its London office.

Irish-born, British-based Jacksepticeye, real name Sean McLoughlin, has more than 21 million YouTube subscribers (50th in the world), along with nearly 6m followers on Instagram and 5m on Twitter. McLoughlin is best known for his ‘Let’s Play’ gaming series and vlogs of his life, and has also embarked on a live career with his How Did We Get Here tour, which played mid-sized venues in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Representation by WME is for all areas, and sees McLoughlin join a digital roster that also includes internet personalities Joe Sugg, Andrea Russett and Jake Paul. He continues to be represented by manager Nicole Graboff and lawyers Ryan Pastorek and Adam Kaller.

All major Hollywood agencies, including WME, CAA, UTA and Paradigm, have rosters that include YouTubers and other digital ‘influencers’, and the trend has in the past few years crossed the Atlantic, thanks to the success of events including Summer in the City and the Meet and Greet Convention.

“The market is definitely getting bigger, and there’s no reason at all why this can’t be an arena-level headline business in the next three to five years,” WME London agent Alex Bewley told IQ in 2017. “Rather than just clicking a ‘like’ button on Facebook or subscribing to a YouTube channel, fans are increasingly buying tickets to see a show by their favourite creators.”


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Australian artists hit by ‘Instagram tax’

Musicians, celebrities and other ‘influencers’ in Australia are to be forced to pay tax on income made through sponsorships and endorsements, as the government moves to introduce an ‘Instagram tax’ on young people making money through their fame and image.

According to the Australian Financial Review, changes to tax rules, set for introduction on 1 July 2019, will see celebrities, sportspeople, internet personalities and entertainers pay the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for all income made through advertising, sponsorships, free products, public appearances and promotions, especially when they can take advantage of tax savings by licensing their image or fame through a business separate entity.

“There is evidence that, currently, individuals are splitting, or apportioning, lump sum payments to shift more income outside of their personal assessable income,” according to a paper prepared by the Australian treasury. “Income-splitting arrangements can be central to contract negotiations with high-profile individuals.”

The Industry Observer suggests the new rules will hit young Australian musicians, many of whom are making money through advertising and sponsorships on social platforms such as Instagram.

In the US, the Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on influencers who fail to make clear which social posts are promotional – most notoriously the Instagram models and others who were paid to plug the ill-fated Fyre Festival.


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LiveXLive to list on Nasdaq

Shares of common stock in live music video company LiveXLive have been approved for listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

Shares are expected to begin trading today (22 February) on the Capital Market, the New York stock exchange’s small-cap equity market, under the symbol LIVX.

LiveXLive chairman and CEO Rob Ellin comments: “2017 was a monumental year for LiveXLive and listing on Nasdaq is an exciting and major milestone in our evolution that we believe will expose the company to a wider audience of potential institutional investors and increase liquidity, ultimately contributing to our ability to increase shareholder value.

“Consumers demand accessible, world-class experiences and LiveXLive has built a platform for just that – a social ecosystem for music lovers around the world. Backed by an impressive management team and propelled by the incredible market opportunity, we have built a company that uniquely addresses a previously untapped market.

“Listing on Nasdaq is an exciting and major milestone in our evolution”

“We look forward to continuing to share our developing story with the investment community.”

LiveXLive, which launched in July 2015, initially positioned itself as the “ESPN of premium live music experience” with its aim of creating a 24-hour network of live music broadcasting digitally and on mobile. Last May it signed a strategic partnership with MTV to provide the broadcaster with LiveXLive’s stream of the closing night of Rock in Rio Lisbon (partnerships with Live Nation’s Outside Lands and AEG’s Hangout have followed since), and shortly after moved into ticketing with the acquisition of Wantickets following that company’s top brass’s controversial defection to Eventbrite.

It has since moved more into original content, with plans to develop a slate of “music news programming, documentaries, specials, and long- and short-form content”, and also recently launched a management division, LiveXLive Influencers, focusing on social-media stars. In September, it announced plans to acquire internet radio service Slacker Radio.


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DanTDM tops rich list following sold-out tour

British internet personality DanTDM has been named the highest-earning YouTuber of 2017 with a fortune of US$16.5m, bolstered by a recent run of live shows in the US and Australia.

DanTDM, real name Dan Middleton, took to the road with in the US with Live Nation earlier this year, and recently wrapped up a string of shows in Australia, including four sold-out dates at the Sydney Opera House (5,608-cap.).

Live Nation takes YouTuber DanTDM on US tour

DanTDM – whose YouTube channel, which focuses primarily on hit video game Minecraft, has almost 17m subscribers –takes the top spot on Forbes’s list of the highest-paid YouTube stars, released today, ahead of fellow gamer Evan Fong. The 2017 list’s cumulative earnings of $127m is up 80% from the $70.5 million the top ten YouTube stars made last year.

Middleton’s net worth in 2016 was estimated at $10m.

Middleton is the latest YouTuber to establish himself as a major live draw, as agents and promoters scrabble to capitalise on a new breed of digital talent. IQ revealed last August that many agents and promoters feel YouTube personalities – and artists establishing themselves on the video platform – are potentially the stadium headliners of the future. “It’s only a matter of time until YouTube becomes a mainstream media platform, and these stars become household names alongside the people who are getting mainstream media exposure now,” said Coda’s Nick Matthews, who represents YouTuber-turned-arena filler Shawn Mendes.


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FTC settles first complaint against social influencers

In news that bodes badly for the the 400+ Instagram personalities and other ‘influencers’ being sued for their paid social-media plugging of Fyre Festival, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled a legal complaint against two influencers it charged with deceptively endorsing an online gambling service while failing to disclose they own the company – the first case of its kind.

According to the FTC, YouTubers Trevor ‘TmarTn’ Martin and Thomas ‘Syndicate’ Cassell – both well known in the online video-gaming community – both personally, and by paying other influencers thousands of dollars to do so, endorsed on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Facebook the lottery site CSGO Lotto, which is jointly owned by the pair.

Each defendant posted YouTube videos of themselves gambling on the website and encouraging others to do – videos cited as evidence by the FTC include INSANE KNIFE BETS! (CS:GO Betting) and “ALL OR NOTHING! (CS:GO Betting) – without disclosing they ran the company (Martin is its president, while Cassell is VP).

While Martin and Cassell dodged a fine, an FTC order settling the charges requires both in future to “clearly and conspicuously disclose any material connections with an endorser or between an endorser and any promoted product or service”.

“Consumers need to know when social media influencers are being paid or have any other material connection to the brands endorsed in their posts”

Cassell was previously rebuked by the FTC for his paid endorsement of the then-new Xbox One console, with the commission warning that the $30,000 promotion fell afoul of its rules for failing to disclose he and others were “paid by Microsoft to say nice things about Xbox One and its games”.

“Consumers need to know when social media influencers are being paid or have any other material connection to the brands endorsed in their posts,” says the FTC’s acting chairwoman, Maureen Ohlhausen. “This action, the FTC’s first against individual influencers, should send a message that such connections must be clearly disclosed so consumers can make informed purchasing decisions.”

Following the conclusion of the CSGO Lotto case, the FTC has sent warning letters (template here) to 21 other unnamed influencers regarding posts on Instagram, reiterating that they must disclose if there is a “material connection” between the endorser and the marketer of a product.


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LiveXLive launches influencer management division

Live streaming service LiveXLive has launched a talent development and management division.

LiveX Influencers will seek out talent across several topics including art, music, fashion, sports, cooking and more, develop their talent and manage their careers. It will pay particular attention to female voices in each sector.

It will be headed by LiveXLive social creator Amanda Cerny, alongside LiveXLive social editors Andrew B. Bachelor (“King Bach”) and recently-hired social star Jake Paul.

“We are discovering and developing the brightest minds in music and digital content.”

Recently signed creators include: Johannes Bartl and Katja Glieson. Bartl, a vegan fitness and comedy creator, has over 1.1million followers on Instagram and more than 390,000 followers on YouTube. Glieson, an Australian singer and musician, has 678,000 followers on Instagram.

“With LiveXLive Influencers, we are discovering and developing the brightest minds in music and digital content,” said Robert Ellin, founder and CEO of LiveXLive. “These incredible influencers are inspiring a generation, and we’re proud to support them through our commitment to producing and delivering the best original music content to viewers around the world.”

The music streaming network is focusing on the development of new music programming, including specials, documentaries, and long- and short-form content to complement its livestreams of music’s biggest festivals and music experiences from around the world.

The LiveXLive network of influencers has a combined social reach of over 75 million, and is growing at an average of over 1 million per month across creators.


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