Case Study: The Affiliate World Tour
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a flurry of event cancellations, reschedulings, and a massive amount of lost revenue for the live music industry.
With shows unable to go on as planned, a new form of live music emerged: the virtual livestreaming music event.
With virtual livestreams, fans were able to escape the boredom of the pandemic and attempt to reconnect with their pre-2020 selves. This switch in live music consumption wasn’t a panacea.
Buffering, video/audio quality issues, and lack of fan engagement plagued many virtual events. Few artists, festivals, and venues benefited from these events. Virtual live music events filled a need, but were not reaching their full potential.
Luckily, the early stages of the pandemic created a new power player in the virtual live music event space…
Introducing Mandolin, a revolutionary live music event streaming platform that reimagines the virtual live music experience – providing superior sound/video, new fan engagement opportunities, and creating new revenue streams for artists, venues, festivals, and brands.
Follow along with me as I dive into how Mandolin connected with Everflow to build out a new type of partner program that empowered venues to act as affiliates and receive a much needed influx of revenue during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This journey will be broken down by key stages in the program’s development known as “tour stops”.
Tour Stop #1: Melancholy and (a lot less) Infinite Sadness
Early COVID-19 pandemic life didn’t have much for music fans to get excited about.
As mentioned above, livestreaming concerts were beginning to happen, but most providers massively failed on the tech side. Someone needed to up their game.
The Mandolin team quickly squashed the issues that plagued other platforms:
Sound issues? Rock out with studio-quality sound.
Tired of seeing the same angles? Catch more of the show with 360-degree camera work.
No sense of connection? Easily chat with other fans before, during, and after the show, and attend virtual meet & greets with performers.
Sick of buffering? “Our infrastructure is proven to withstand global festivals and fans in the millions,” – the Mandolin marketing folks.
Rock n’ Roll! The launch of Mandolin had quickly addressed the issues that tanked most livestreams. But, they knew livestreams should be more.
With Mandolin’s hybrid options, a fan attending a live show gets jealousy-inducing perks like:
- Video access to pre-event sound check and replays after the show
- The ability to host a livestreaming watch party while at the show
- Face-to-face video and chat access to performers via virtual VIP meet and greet experiences
- The opportunity to purchase merch online
Mandolin’s fan offerings were best-in-class.
Major artists, festivals, venues, and brands of all sizes were soon discovering and hosting virtual events via Mandolin as well.
Mandolin quickly rose to “the top of the charts” in the virtual live music event space – at a time when the need for music was crucial.
The team at Mandolin knew they could reach more music fans and provide an added revenue boost to venues in the live music industry via a scalable, affiliate partnership program.
Mandolin chose Everflow to help them build an innovative affiliate program.
For Mandolin, “affiliates” didn’t mean bloggers, media buyers, or emailers, but rather actual music venues from across the United States and Europe.
Mandolin’s freshly-developed affiliate program allowed venues to step into a new world of affiliate marketing, and use Mandolin’s campaigns to receive much-needed revenue during a crucial time period.
Here’s how Mandolin started their journey with Everflow…
Tour Stop #2: Hustle & (Ever)Flow
In November 2020, Mandolin’s affiliate program began with Everflow onboarding the crew at Mandolin with platform training to help them get up-to-speed quickly on how to use all of the relevant features of their new affiliate program.
Included in onboarding was creating Mandolin’s first affiliate campaign, tracking setup, and assistance with integrations (including a Shopify integration that allowed Mandolin to track and manage all partner Shopify merch activity conveniently in Everflow), and a PayPal integration to pay partners.
In about a month, Mandolin had a fully functioning affiliate program and was ready to recruit partners.
Adding and activating venues as affiliate partners was seamless for Mandolin, which was key as many of these new partners weren’t familiar with the typical affiliate model.
According to Mandolin Campaign Manager Keith Berquist, Everflow made partner onboarding a breeze:
“Adding organizations to our pool of affiliate partners is as easy as sending a link and it’s just as easy for them to grab their tracking link and earn commission on the events we host,” stated Berquist.
Ease of setup was one thing, but Mandolin needed a custom solution to suit their needs—which wouldn’t have been possible with any old out-of-the-box affiliate partner.
With the Everflow platform, fine tuning Mandolin’s affiliate program required only a small amount of in-platform settings adjustments.
It was so easy that even a bass player could do it (jk, my brother plays the bass).
Let’s jump into how Mandolin customized their program to be able to scale and provide new monetization opportunities for deserving venues in the live music space.
Tour Stop #3: Tu(n)ed Up To 11
Working with such an uncommon set of partners for the affiliate space, and offering multiple service choices per campaign, presented challenges for the Mandolin team.
Here’s how Mandolin configured their program and overcame those challenges via the Everflow platform:
Challenge #1: Event Sales Windows
Whether a virtual or hybrid event, ticket sales for Mandolin events have strict start and stop times. To solve this issue, the Mandolin team simply customized offer start and stop times via day parting options in their Everflow dashboard:
Challenge #2: Multiple SKU’s Per Offer (and Not Counting CC Fees)
A Mandolin offer can contain many items for purchase, including:
- Choice of a live event ticket, virtual event ticket, or a hybrid ticket
- Event packages (like Virtual Meet & Greets)
- Artist merchandise
- Credit card fees needed to be factored, too (boo!)
With so many choices available, tracking customer selections was a challenge. Mandolin moved past this roadblock by adjusting postback controls to reflect each individual customer choice, while also not including any credit card fees as revenue for the Mandolin affiliate who drove the sale. With postback controls dialed in, a Mandolin affiliate is able to receive different payouts based on items selected by each customer.
Challenge #3: Multiple Versions Needed
By working with a huge variety of venues and festivals, the Mandolin team had to come up with a way to quickly create offers with the same basic structure, yet with a few changes per affiliate partner – items like price, ticket options, package availability, etc.
With Everflow, creating multiple versions of an offer takes only a few clicks via a duplication option. Here’s an example:
Through duplication, Mandolin could quickly create a new offer specific to the unique needs of their affiliate partner.
As their partners started to roll in, and with their platform optimized to scale, the Mandolin affiliate program began to grow into an effective new monetization channel for live music venues – built for support during and post-pandemic.
Tour Stop #4: Lean On Me
Previously mentioned above, the live music industry has been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- In 2020 $30 billion in revenue was lost
- Live Nation lost $300 million in Q1 of 2021
- ⅓ of music-related jobs were lost in 2020
As Mandolin’s digital events began to be adopted by more venues, the company started to make a real difference in terms of revenue and in providing hope:
- For times when a live event couldn’t take place due to local health regulations, venues and festivals could generate revenue via livestreams – providing a new source of revenue in a situation that would normally be a complete loss.
- Venues and festivals looking to make up for pandemic losses, or to make extra revenue, could increase the capacity of live event ticket sales by opening up the event via a livestream option, upselling tickets with a digital Rewatch for in-person fans after the show, or adding to in-person revenue by providing fans hybrid benefits via the Mandolin app.
- Artists looking for their revenue to return to normal (or exceed pre-pandemic levels) can tap into new monetization opportunities through venues and festivals like in-event merchandise, record release parties, and even the ability to sell NFTs.
The adaptability of Mandolin’s solutions for any pandemic-related condition, or for the live music event world post-pandemic, is a key pillar of their mission – and made possible by the Everflow platform.
Through Everflow, it only takes a link to bring Mandolin’s offerings to music fans around the world.
Mandolin is more than a pandemic-revenue Band-Aid (pun intended), as they not only want to help keep the live music industry rocking when things get tough, they also want to help the industry develop a scalable new revenue stream through the affiliate channel.
Mandolin’s solutions continue to evolve as their team is constantly seeking new ways to help the industry generate revenue and create a stronger event experience.
“The intent of Mandolin was never just to find a way to make ends meet during a pandemic. Mandolin was built knowing live shows would one day be back and in fact, we welcome that notion with open arms. That’s why we have developed a product offering well beyond livestreaming,”
-Mandolin Campaign Manager,
Speaking of a world where live shows are fully back, let’s find out what’s next for Mandolin and their affiliate program as the world emerges (knock on wood) from the pandemic.
Tour Stop #5: The Next Episode
Mandolin remains focused on continuing to find new ways to support the talented artists, historic venues, and iconic festivals of the live music industry.
One new way Mandolin is pushing the boundaries of live event streams is through enhancing their mobile app to add even more digital engagement and monetization possibilities:
“With our app, fans in-venue and at home can press a button to push production effects on stage, avoid merch lines with in-app purchase, and meet their favorite artists via our VIP meet and greet software,” stated Berquist.
Wherever Mandolin’s tour heads next, Everflow will be there to help deliver their offerings to fans around the world via a flexible affiliate platform that can track anything that the talented folks at Mandolin can imagine and through industry-leading support.
The Everflow team regularly communicates with Mandolin via email, calls, and quarterly reviews. During these frequent check-ins, Everflow provides growth suggestions, answers questions, and offers ideas to help their team work more efficiently.
Everflow’s commitment to empowering Mandolin to launch and scale their program is not lost on the Mandolin team.
“Everflow’s customer service has been extremely integral to helping us find the best ways in which we can use the platform to be most effective,” added Berquist.
The team at Everflow is quite excited as well to see what’s next for Mandolin and their affiliate program:
“We love working with Mandolin as they not only are disruptors in the live music event space, but also in the affiliate space, creating an affiliate program that shows proof of concept that venues can be effective affiliate partners,”
-Michael Cole, Vice President of Marketing at Everflow