As more and more of us sign up to subscription services in the UK, they are fast becoming the go to way for consumers to receive their music, video or even literary fix. Indeed, the success of media services such as Netflix and Spotify mean that more and more Brits are more accustomed to paying for entertainment via monthly subscriptions – something only set to increase with the announcement of Apple Music.

Research from Mintel’s Digital Trends Winter UK 2014 report shows that 28% of UK consumers subscribe to at least one media subscription service, increased to almost half amongst those aged 16-34. And according to Mintel’s The Fifty, both the video and music subscription markets grew by 56% and 65% respectively in 2014. The success of this type of service creates more room for the same payment model to be expanded within the events market.

A new type of subscription service

Looking to explore the model is ShowMango, a London based company, who launched a subscription service for unlimited access to concerts and live music events last month. For £25 a month subscribers can gain access to a variety of live music events, including concerts, club nights, exclusive parties and day festivals, across many music genres. The company also offers a £9 per month version for ‘basic events’ that sell for less than £10. The company is already gathering an impressive portfolio, partnering with venues such as Fabric, The Hoxton Bar, Notting Hill Arts Club and Proud Camden.

ShowMango developed from a music discovery app titled Fluttr that would help people track exciting music events. A similar subscription service to ShowMango already runs in the United States, called Jukely, but this is the first of its kind in Europe. While the service currently only runs in London there are plans to expand its reach to other cities around the UK and across Europe.

Live music attendance high

The app is well placed in a marketplace where a significant portion of the population attends music concerts. Indeed, according to Mintel’s Music Concerts and Festivals UK 2014 report, 40% of Brits went to at least one music concert in 2013 or in the first five months of 2014. Visitation increased to 55% amongst 16-34 year olds. On top of this, almost one in three concert goers went to four or more concerts in the previous year, rising to 37% amongst 25-34 year olds.

The high visitation levels highlights live music as an area with a lot of potential for pushing the subscription model further into ‘real-world’ entertainment. The interest in concerts amongst younger people is particularly promising given that younger people are more accustomed to paying for a media subscription service.

To entice consumers to subscribe, ShowMango is offering their first month free. The service could, however, also encourage extended take up with the promise of additional perks, such as a VIP experience at a concert after your first six months of subscription.

What are the possible complications?

Two complications currently faced by the company are its strong ties with the electronic music scene and obstacles to its potential UK expansion. For the former point, It has acknowledged it will need to partner with a variety of venues, catering for multiple genres in order to appeal to a broad spectrum of taste.

As the service is currently based in London, an ideal location given the large number of events daily, if ShowMango looks to expand it may struggle in smaller cities and towns, where people have less access to events making the service less worthwhile. ShowMango may therefore need to tailor itself to different areas.

Other event areas have potential

If an alternative music event subscription service wanted to establish itself in the market after ShowMango, without simply being a direct competitor, it could also potentially focus on catering for a specific music genre. ShowMango is looking to broaden the variety of events it offers, taking itself beyond its electronic roots. Another service could instead concentrate on niche markets, ensuring that it is focused on offering unique, tailored or underground experiences in one particular music genre that may be missed from a broader service.

There is also room for far more event areas to implement a subscription model. Live theatre or dance may need numerous pricing levels, due to the range of price points for different shows, but the volume of shows put on in major cities means the market holds great potential. More subscription services could also offer people access to a variety of visitor attractions across the country.

Overall many people are likely to be drawn to event subscriptions, not simply because they believe it will save them money as they will not have to pay separately for events, but also because they view it as an aspirational endeavour that will act as a form of encouragement to attend more events. As long as there is an appropriate pricing scale to cater for the volume of events people realistically feel they will attend, subscriptions for ‘real-world’ entertainment has great potential.

Rebecca McGrath, Research Analyst at Mintel, has been at the company since 2013. She specialises in research for leisure and media reports.

 

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