BYHO Journals

“Big Girl Pants”

Fiction. Based on a True XLive Data Analytics Summit. 34 minute read

 written by Mingjie Zhai.

Feature Photo Courtesy of The Confluence Group

Photos by Mingjie Zhai


#XLive #DataAnalytics #Conferences

About XLive Data Analytics Summit [x]

The XLIVE Data & Analytics Summit convened festival and live event producers, leading data and analytics executives, in addition to brands hosting their own corporate events and festivals. With over $1.1 billion invested in event technology in 2016, the digital transformation in the live event sector is growing at unprecedented levels. As live events and festivals experience increased competition from one another and strive to provide unique experiences for fans and attendees alike, technology will serve as a cornerstone in this effort for years to come. With this digitization of the live event experience – event organizers can now harness the power of their data to more effectively engage attendees, understand customer behavior, increase revenue, analyze competition, identify talent trends, monetize assets, enhance sponsorship activation and more!

“Eye opening, remarkable, and sad all at the same time,” he said. He’s seen the worst of it—extreme poverty, extreme hunger, and under the most dire of circumstances. “It makes you appreciate what we have here,” he said. His eyes were sharp, his voice grounded, his pace, mindful…mindful that she is a journalist and can be selectively listening for the angle, so he tunes his angle to her energy, speeding up and slowing down accordingly, the master craftsman of a salesman. He’s a seasoned pitcher, producer, hustler so he knows how to get to the point—answer the question, elaborate when need be, and cater to the other person’s needs.

There is no looking back for an entrepreneur like Waco. No default, no plan B, no safety net. Perhaps that is what drove him to keep pushing forward, no matter how many no’s, how many hurdles of the environment saying, “You can’t do this,” he breaks through.

Why? Because that’s what a Marine does. A marine breaks through.

xLive becomes the Live Experience for event producers from all backgrounds—music, film, sports, to coalesce.

While most people may think getting different verticals to gather together in a trade conference environment may be challenging and for many naysayers, impossible, it takes a certain type of personality to break through limitations.

As a NYU business alum, you can.

As a Marine Officer, you can.

As someone who has attracted loyal high school friends, you can.

He learned early on that it was never about him. Perhaps it was the military training. The discipline. Perhaps it was seeing how bad it could really get—that his obstacles here weren’t shit compared to the extreme barriers to entry from the extreme impoverishment of other countries such as in Southeast Asia when he was stationed there–it was the hunger that drove him.

Perhaps he saw the extreme value of live interaction.

As someone who has graduated from the U.S.M.C., and later NYU, he understands the most important asset when leveraging power, influence, and control:


A Midnight Spring’s Dream

He was there watching her. “Pitch. I trust you. Just pitch,” his eyes said. He was calm. He was zen. He had patience in her process.

Angele was standing in front of a group of women entrepreneurs. They were tough but they were also rooting for her. The stage was warmly lit by the lights. It was her moment to discover her voice in the sea of strangers.


Paley Media Center, Beverly Hills.

April 4, 2017.

“The CEO has two jobs. Raise money and keep the vision, ” Nik Bonnadiio, VP Tools & Data Products at Fanduel had said in the closing of the first of two days. It was eye opening for many hustlers out there— event producers, content creators, and brand attendees— it’s not doing everything, but do have a laser focus on what one should be focusing on.

Raise money. Keep the Vision.

This is why Branson had sent her that video with the $dollar$ sign in the middle of the cartoon head. She had been secretly feeling guilty and equating the dollar with all the reasons why society is fucked up. But money is still a mentality. It’s energy exchange. And without it, how will she provide her team, protect the mission, and profess her commitment to carry out the mission?

Just pitch bitch.

At the closing day of the two day XLive Data & Analytics summit in Beverly Hills, the closing keynote, Nik Bonnadiio, just gave her another green light with the keynote titled, “Playing the Numbers Game – Entrepreneurship in a data driven world.” This should light your head up little bird, the voice in her head said. It’s time to raise your baby. Feed it with the proper greens, & use the data to deliver value. 

Time to put on your big girl pants.

Opening Remarks

If It Don’t Make Dollars, It Don’t Make Sense – Determining the true value of your data

“And adding to that…one of the fascinating things is that a lot of companies are finding out not only who bought the ticket but who actually went to the show. A mom buying tickets for their kids is very different than a person buying two tickets for them and their wife,” Jeremy Gruber, Head of Digital, Friends at Work, reflected.

“That’s one of the key goals…which is to figure out who is buying the tickets. Uncovering that for themselves but also for the artist management to see the first of its kind view for the venue to help them retain artists… trying to capture fan data and push that through that entire funnel,” Evan Weinstein, Partner at Steez Promo, said.

“Where it will close the loop is if we are truly delivering leads to them that they can then close the loop on but that’s a pretty new wild frontier that we’re excited about,” Umesh Johari, Senior Manager, Strategy & Analytics for the San Francisco 49ers, continued.

Once someone is in their database, they can leverage the database for any event. The San Francisco 49ers is a company with over half a million uniques and they work with Ticketmaster live analytics to hand off ticket demographic information for everyone. Age, where you live, household income, what kind of car you drive, what kind of credit card you have, etc. They would know if you had an affinity for country music, for coffee, for college football, and onwards.

“We’ll use the pac 12 championship last year, for example, we’ll look at the database, both as an art and as a science, and say, ‘okay, this person has been to another college ball game in our stadium, they’re obviously a great person to look at,’ ” Johari continued,

“I personally do coding and sass and others do coding and R, and we’ll push this up to our CRM, and we use CORE which is a layover over Microsoft Dynamics and we use Tableau for a lot of our visualizations so that way you can see Tiers 1 through 5. What’s the pipeline look like–from the people in there to number of calls made to conversations to final stages to sale, and it trucks up that way,” another chimed.

This translates to film data analytics as well. Natasha Ericta, Vice President of the Research and Data Science, National Research Group, stood out to Angelie not only because she is a woman among a sea full of men, but also she was an Asian-American woman. It gave her both pride and the push to keep paying attention. Who are the players she could connect with that would benefit her organization? How could a company like theirs become the authority and amplifier for hers when she’s pitching to Angels? The brain filters to conserve its energy. We only have a finite amount of energy per day. Where do we put our attention and intention?

She swims among the sea of jargon, titles, and new technologies. By this time, Angelie felt like a Nemo in the big ocean (blue ocean?) of data analytics, technology, company growth, etc. How can a company like hers—a baby infant, be able to partner or compete with what seemed like giants?

“We build those surveys and we work with the clients. We have trouble understanding this film or show…it’s about optimizing…how to optimize trailers…like maximum differencing, segmentation, p drivers, conceptional maps, we built our whole metrics…Ghost in the Shell is close to…you can expect it to perform like this around this level. We’ve also advanced production forecasting tool that runs through our studio that connects directly to our database…combining survey data with social media api, Rotten Tomatoes,” Ericta continues.

Angelie thought about the time she was a Sophomore at UCI with an “undeclared” major, exploring different subjects to see if anything would really stand to her. She wanted to take a physics class because she thought it was the smart, prestigious and worthy major to do. Besides, there was only one female physics professor among the sea of men. She woke up at 4:30am in the morning to attend her 5am lecture and discovered a whole another world of language, alien to her brain. She felt like the one foreign student among the sea of knowledgeable would-be astrophysicist. This is how it felt like listening in to the masterminds on the panel. How does she approach them? What does she ask that could benefit both companies? Her entire existence, forget her company, her entire existence felt threatened because it was learn and get in on the inner circle, or become irrelevant. Most of the audience felt the same way as Angelie, at least subconsciously, so the drive to exist and be relevant is what has the men put the suit and tie and what has the women wear the high powered heels. Formidable language formed out of the innovations, that only a few decades ago were considered science fiction, are now being implemented in the forefront of everyday business. 

“How do we assign value to different elements of the campaign?” Dave Cedrone, Senior Partner at Umbel, and panel host, addressed the panel.

“We do model by genre, but we always look at correlation at first choices aligning with box office sales,” Johari answered.

The Funnels

Traditional marketing and engagement with the platform. Understanding which metrics are important. How many comments, hearts, on Instagram. Depends on campaign, how you structured it, and knowing your customers and knowing how they get to you. What’s in your experience? What are the main points of entry?

Evan Weinstein

“Are people buying tickets? Can we send out a campaign on our email and drive people to our social media? Can we launch a social media campaign, and are we converting them and keeping them engaged across all platforms? Everything is based on ticket sales,” he tells the audience at the Paley Media auditorium. 

“ is a great email management system. It started more like a contest but they added more email management. Now, everything is so social media based, it allows us to file our email, track our emails. Everything is tracked by hashtags,” he continues.

“It’s about Macro and micro communication,” he says.

“What is the most valuable outbound communication?” Dave Cedrone, from Umbel and the moderator of the panel, asked.

“Facebook and Instagram. Post 4 or 5 content a day,”  Weinstein responded.

“If we are engaging with people we are going to get the sale.”

“It is a generational thing.”


He was the nove riche. The guy who hustled his way from the streets to the club. Angelie imagined him as Lorenzo from the Bronx tale, but the Jewish version in D.C.. As co-owner of the marketing company, Steez Promo, he was the man mainly responsible for throwing one of the biggest dance parties to hit D.C. in 2011. And after the major party bust with Moonrise Festival security scandal, Weinstein is a man still standing tall. He has put out the fires, while allowing the fires to temper his Steez to steel.

The minute she saw his face on the screen, there was some sort of pull she had towards him. Perhaps he was the most attractive of them all in the panel, perhaps it was the way he carried himself, perhaps she knew that the party scene will somehow someway be connected with her project in the future. Whatever it was, she knew she had to talk to him.

There were people surrounding him when he got out. Specifically, he was talking with Walter from Feathr, one of the turnkey event marketing platforms comparable with and competitive to Hive, the platform Evan’s company is currently using. Everything comes down to the pitch, the unique proposition, and she saw how Walter was smoozing with Evan. One can only hope. What the fuck was Angelie’s unique proposition other than to say that it has social value? What the fuck does that even mean? —will organizations that do massive dance party festivals care for a ted talk/live show/performance mashup showcase?

“Hey Evan,” she said. “I run a nonprofit publisher that produces live, interactive events, and I wanted to know if you may be interested in getting involved in nonprofit production shows.”

Awkward. She felt like the geek hitting on the beauty queen during prom night. How does she formulate depression, anxiety, and mental health destigmatization and make it sound sexy, with all the bling bling bells and whistles, without it coming off inauthentic while still keeping his attention among the competitors who wanted his time, his resource, and his network?

She gave him a Love Story journal and showed him the AR technology. She wrote a quick handwritten note. Her writing was bad—it was always bad, and she accepted that this is a sign of genius as many scientists and doctors also have bad handwriting. She left her number in the book, and, as an afterthought, felt like she was coming on too strong—like some kind of desperate fan. She knew she gave off the desperate fan vibe to certain people she wanted to connect with for her business. She acknowledges herself as being a bit out of place. On the one hand, she’s here to cover the story as a journalist, and on the other hand, she’s hustling as a social entrepreneur to attract talent, partnerships, resources, and the right group of people to make something big happen.

She wonders if Russell from Confluence would care that she’s also networking for her business? She wonders if Waco would care. Probably and probably not. They had a million other concerns to attend to, but if they really knew how much she wanted to see this mission grow, they would care. Perhaps they already do care. Perhaps they knew all along and that’s why she’s here. Why was she here anyway? Networking. Scooping. Gaining knowledge. That’s why she’s here. Besides, both Waco and Russell wanted to empower indie social startups like her organization to thrive. They wanted women leaders to step up and lean in—even as awkwardly as she sometimes come off to people. This is her perception anyway. For many other attendees, she comes off as an eclectic, a novelty, or worse yet, unseen.

He accepts the book graciously. “Cool, I’ll take a look at it, and perhaps we can discuss how this can work for us.” She smiles. Will he use the book? She wonders. Does a man like Evan ever stop to process his grief or does a man like Evan just keep doing, doing, and doing till the pain melts into big festivals, club scenes, and influencers. Does it drown out the noise for him or does he take the time to quiet himself, perhaps write an ode, a love poem, or a prayer?

Fan-Mining & Micro Analytics

More and more companies are interested in the super micro—finding people who are a fan and then emailing or calling them based on their data. Using big data and machine learning to drill it down to the psychology of the individual. How do we shift into an artist-friendly brand? Segmenting media. Segmenting health. Segmenting among segmenting. They are pulling data apart to sift through the gold.


“Pushing sales people to the side, all I care about is streaming. No more paid media, but underpriced streaming. Next phase where small companies can begin communicating,” Weinstein continued.

This is Bob Pittman’s take, founder of iHeart. He saw where the market was going. When The Confluence Group hosted Further Future, it was there Bob Pittman had helicoptered into the middle of the Mojave Desert among the Moab land and gave them all an intimate talk among the Burners and future tech trend setters about where the future is heading. When an influencers makes a statement like this, the network responds. Hearing Weinstein echo this was a reminder of how powerful the inner circle is. The network of festival people now integrating and curating music, movies, and mentalities. They influence the perception of the masses.


Ticketmaster: Special Reservations

“We can give them information back on who is purchasing tickets. Real fans purchasing tickets and when tickets become available, and we will text you with when tickets will be available. Rather than just text you, if when you registered, if you have a credit card on file, we will make a reservation for you, and based on what you wanted, here are these tickets for you right now—for fans,”  Arri Landsman-Roos, Director of Analytics for the Jacksonville Jaguars, said.

“Conversation rate is good at 10-20%. They are going off of secondary market to find their tickets, but changing that so they are a verified fan,” Kyle Burkhardt, Director of Business Intelligence, for the Los Angeles Kings added. He wanted 100% conversion. In his mind, in the post-Steve Jobs era, this was achievable in the minds of many.

“We are ranking users by their fan-score, and giving them tickets and not forcing them to rush in and as tickets become available in that pre-sale form. Those tickets never show up on ticketmaster, and that makes the happy fan. We are eliminating the worst part of ticket buying which is the ticket buying process,” he continued.

“We target their fans within Ticketmaster. Enable artists to come in. Part of that should be people who are registered for that. Come in and register and do what you need to do,” Weinstein chimed in.

“Is email still relevant?” panel moderator, Mark Meyerson, VP & GM for Live Music at Vendini asked.

“Yes,” Weinstein responded.

“Myspace moved up into social media. We were owning the market. I checked out and moved into the buying side— two concerts a year. I had a bad marketing director and realized that sales and interaction was going down. We relearned everything from the bottom up. Got my hands dirty and went through every advertising platform just to be relevant with it. I was with a very clunky old, outdated system, to a very relevant social media driven system with 30% opens depending on how targeted and catered they are,” he said.

Cookie Cutters are Outdated

“We’ve become pushers of content across email and social media content. How can we give them value so they can give me value. One big thing we have changed on Instagram, we reply, like, and comment on everything. Our interaction is up 300% just on Instagram. The effort to remember that there’s human beings on either side of the equation,” Weinstein said. 

The 360 view from The House of Blues

Panel Banter that stuck with the one audience member

“We’ve had multiple touch points and multiple data sets.”

“Marketing data and CRM, data visualization, everything is connected to one source. As you are building and reporting, they can see the return and the buy-in because we are able to build that all into the platform. If we can put everything back into one place, can we help the per cap.”

“If you’re just blasting people just to blast people then they will check out.”

“Do you ever use local brands to leverage against that in your advertising to try and attract them?”

“Not necessary pushing it to the market. But companies will partner if its mutually beneficial.”

“I love data because we can use it in so many different ways, but 55% our revenue is selling tickets, 40% sponsorships and 5% on F&B and merchandise. If the game or show is not playing that well, we may have to find new markets to attract.”

“How do we find fans and turn them into superfans?”

“How do we find the single ticket buyer and turn them into a season ticket buyer?

“How do you use data to move these people up to the economic ladder?”

“How do you keep them motivated and keep them coming back?”

Create a data model and see who can match that model. Some are custom data built from experience, endless hours of user testing, and others are built on theoretical models that have previously worked, on scientific algorithms. It’s an all out capitalistic sprint. Like sperm racing to the egg. Who’s going to get integrated first?

Machine learning is A.I. marketing, and A.I. Marketing is machine learning.  

Data analytics are only the footsoldiers.

The mother nest is in the ghost. And the machine is searching for the ghost through analytics.

The next evolution is the ghost in the machine. 

Fanalytics – Data driven ticket sales strategies to monetize target audiences

The Thin line between the Creepy Stalker and Prince Charming.

Are you a fan?

“Do you actively work through those issues?”

“Training the sales team so they don’t come off as creepy.”

“Depends on the situation. Having weekly sales meeting with the data guys. Being able to analyze and interpret the data so that we know how to strategize and approach the subject without coming off as creepy.”

“We try to micromanage this relationship.”

“I try to forget how creepy this is.”

“We got to get buy in from the sales people,” the other said, “this is why we target this person.”

“Their job is to be not creepy when they are on the phone,” one said, referring to salespeople.

“Giving value is the main way to overcome the creepiness factor.”

“It heartens me that the NFL still hasn’t completely tied together through everyone’s GPS system and phones exactly where all 60,000 people are headed at any particular time, and you don’t know if there’s anybody at the sports bar. In a weird way, well, at least there’s still work to do right?”

“We’re already doing that unsuccessfully,” someone said sarcastically.

We are in the information war—whether that is both politically, socially, or in business. If we look at it through the lens of efficiency, it can’t get any more efficient than with machine learning, data algorithmic calculations, and others can do to learn you, and optimize you.

During the social mixer that evening, she ran into VetTV’s brand ambassador and marketing strategist, John, who helped fuel the successful crowd fundraiser for VetTV. Donny O’ Malley, combat friends with Waco Hoover, who happens to also be on the board of Irreverent, who also happens to be inside the book that Angelie was showing Waco during her interview with him, is now working out the kinks VetTV. It’s getting a group of people together from all backgrounds to learn, provide value, and build off each other.

Information Technology

Event experiences. Music and film festivals. xLive is a live experience. A community about creating extraordinary experiences. It is also sports, brands, and tangential marketing segments. How can information technology benefit all verticals?

Competitors in the Sea of Sharks

Intelligence is the weapon and Social is the currency of all businesses. Two years into the entrepreneur hustle, and she realized that this was really going to require more of a commitment than marriage. She ruined the marriage thing, and getting into anything that required a contract, and dancing with the personalities of like minded ego driven hustlers is quite the dive into the abyss and quite the fear to push through.

Break Through, is what Angelie imagined Waco would say to her.

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