The sweet sound of success: maximizing live event revenue
Wherever live events are happening, you will find atVenu, the world’s leading live event commerce platform, a trusted partner to the world’s largest entertainment companies.
Whether working with venues, direct with musicians, or entire festivals, atVenu serves hectic, fast-paced environments by streamlining merchandise and food and beverage operations with an all-in-one, point of sale and inventory management solution designed specifically for the unique needs of live events.
As atVenu rotates their fleet of 5,000+ iPads to customers throughout the world, they rely on Jamf Now as their tried-and-true Apple device management solution, enabling simple setup and easy hardware deployment and maximizing revenue potential.
Making the band
Like many a music-inspired origin story, you could say that atVenu was born in the back of a van. After a decade of selling merchandise on the road on tours with bands around the world, atVenu co-founder and President Ben Brannen thought there had to be a better way to manage sales and inventory.
Inspired to tap into technology, in 2012 he partnered with a couple of tech-savvy friends to develop atVenu, a software platform designed to handle sales of merchandise at concerts and music festivals. Their innovative idea was a big hit, increasing sales and maximizing revenue.
Once established as the new standard for concert merch sales, they expanded the platform to manage food and beverage operations at their events.
As Brannen says, atVenu handles transient, temporary commerce. Whereas a traditional retailer may sell the same product line, in the same place, every day, “Our environment was a dirt field yesterday, there’s no warehouse to pull inventory from, and we don’t know what we are selling until the band shows up. That sort of pop-up, spontaneous retail environment is our specialty.”
Over the years they’ve expanded into other non-traditional retail environments, live event adjacent markets such as the college football Rose Bowl Game, New York Auto Show and Tribeca Film Festival. “We show up, we sell a bunch of stuff, we break down and leave. That’s our focus.”
Today atVenu is used at over 125,000 shows each year, managing merchandise sales for artist tours, venues and festivals in every major market.
Each year atVenu sees an average of 16,000 artists, 375 venues, 250 festivals and 125,000 events— as well as sales of 1,000,000 T-shirts and 1,000,000 beers.
Taking it on the road
Today there are two key components of atVenu: Artist Manager, the mobile tool for the backend enterprise resource planning (ERP) system and atVenu Register, an iOS point of sale (POS) solution.
The backend ERP system manages the inventory, cost of goods, financial settlements at the end of the night, forecasting what will be sold and what you need.
“Think of a band on tour,” says Brannen. “You have 50 dates. We forecast what you’re going to run out of and when, how much to reorder, and where to drop ship that inventory so that it matches where the band is going to be in the world. We handle the logistics behind that.”
On the front end, the data syncs into the POS system, which is fully integrated with the atVenu platform, allowing customers to track sales, collect credit card payments and keep inventory up to date in real-time.
Not only does atVenu provide the software, but also the hardware to run it, which is where Jamf comes into play – at current count atVenu manages a fleet of 5,000+ iPads.
While some customers buy their own gear, “A music festival happens once a year, so they don’t necessarily want to buy 650 point-of-sale units that are going to sit in the closet for 99 percent of the year,” says Brannen. “So we provide the point-of-sale units. They’ll run it for an event, then ship it back to our warehouse.” Pack, ship and repeat throughout the concert season. For seasonal venues, such as Live Nation amphitheaters, they’ll ship devices out once to run the entire season of shows and concerts before they’re shipped back.
Keeping close tabs on every journey is Will Hammons, atVenu Hardware and Inventory Manager. In every stage – pre-, during and post-event – he’s planning the logistics and managing the details with help from Jamf Now.
For each event, he forecasts customer needs for support – how many devices, how they’re configured and when they’re needed. He schedules shipments, coordinates timing, and deals with freight in order to make sure they get to the event on time and up to date.
“It's keeping track of where everything is at once,” says Hammons. Because from day one atVenu assigned each iPad a unique name [eg. Register 001] in preferences, for each event he uses the “assign to” function in Jamf Now to track exactly which devices are used at every event.
“In the last three months, we’ve done about 6,000 changes of ‘assigned to’,” says Hammons. This translates to 6,000 transitions from venue, to warehouse, back to another venue. “With things coming in and going out, that's where Jamf really helps. It keeps me organized, so I know where things are.”
If all the iPads aren’t returned, it’s as easy as running a report to figure out exactly which devices are missing. With their rotating door of inventory – thousands of iPads in constant rotation – it’s crucial to have a management platform that enables detailed tracking and reporting. If an iPad is on the missing list, they can enable Lost Mode, to help figure out whether it’s been misplaced, lost or stolen. And if stolen, remotely wipe it.
Hammons also loves being able to push app updates, with remote removal and installation if needed, as well as using the “last checked in” feature. “Some of the bigger merch companies will say, we still have this from last year... we accidentally left it in the warehouse. We can see when it was last checked in, or if somebody's using it. And if there was a swap out of two artists working together in the same venue and they switched iPads, we’re able to check it.”
One thing he doesn’t have to worry about is configuring profiles for individual customers.
“We have one profile that’s installed on all the devices,” says Brannen. “We want uniformity. In our industry, a lot of our customers float around everywhere. When they turn the iPad on and see the atVenu logo, they know exactly what the experience is going to be. That's helped us out a lot, particularly when it comes to onboarding and training and making sure that when we send something out the door, it's going to be consistent with their previous experiences.”
For each event, “We ship Pelican cases full of iPads. They just grab any device, see the atVenu app, know to log in, select the stand, and boom: the menu automatically syncs up. Because I’ve got one day to distribute all this product and get that festival up and running.”
Keep the good times rolling
Although many on the atVenu team are engineers, when it comes to IT management of their fleet of iPads, Brannen and Hammons are in charge.
“We started off as a software company, we didn't know we were going to end up doing hardware,” says Brannen. It was only after customers requested help with POS, that they purchased iPads and started looking at MDMs.
“Before Will was here, I was the one that was stumbling through Apple Business Manager trying to figure out what was going to work for our somewhat unique needs, evaluating what was out there and finding something that was light enough for me to figure out how to use.”
“We ultimately chose Jamf Now because we don't have a ton of very complex, sophisticated needs. At the end of the day, I just need to know where my iPads are in the world - who has them? Where are they going? And I need a simple way to get the same profile on everything. I want uniformity, and I want to know where everything is. Jamf Now was the perfect solution for that.”
Jamf Now was also able to handle scaling as their fleet went from 12, to 100, to 500 iPads and up. “From a business model perspective, it gives us the controls we need to ensure that our capital investment on these devices is protected. We're putting a lot of money into 5,000 iPads, I want to make sure I know where in the world they are. It's easy for some to go missing if you're not keeping track.”
While he’s never had to build an IT team just to manage his devices, Brannen gives rave reviews to Jamf’s customer support. “They’ve been incredible. It's let non-IT background guys run the software effectively for years now, without the technical team that's typically required to do mass hardware deployments. I'm testament to the product that we don't need an IT expert in here managing this entire fleet for us.”
While in the early days, his team did have people on site to check that everything was running properly, today their MDM is almost all remote.
There’s no business, like…
“Our customer base is unique in the sense that I have a very finite window to run my business,” says Brannen. “Finite, finite, finite.”
For the live event business, there are no second chances. When your only option is to get it right the first time, you have to be able to rely on your partners, like Jamf.
“We're not on site, so we built technology solutions and custom hardware so that it's a quick deployment,” says Brannen.
“That's the atVenu perspective of what defines success for an event for a customer. It's making sure that they don't have anything to worry about in that process. They get all the gear they need, it deploys seamlessly, everything stays up online and there are no issues taking transactions.”
As they say, the show must go on.
We have one opportunity to maximize the revenue of this event. It's not happening next weekend. It's happening right now. So we have to be up, we have to move those lines. We have to collect every transaction and report all that back to the promoter to ensure they're maximizing their revenue potential. That for us is the key definition of success, how we supported our customer to maximize the revenue potential for this event.