case study

City Winery

How the Venue Found Stability and Growth in a Hybrid World

Dan Conroe, Marketing Director

About City Winery

Founded in 2008 by Michael Dorf (founder of New York’s iconic Knitting Factory), City Winery knows a thing or two about keeping fans coming back for more. The venue conglomerate’s focus on delivering innovative concerts & cultural experiences to fans has helped them scale across seven locations in the last 13 years—reaching live music lovers nationally and internationally.

The New Normal Is… Uncertain?

While most stay-at-home orders have subsided, the pandemic shook the world so profoundly, it left consumer behavior and the live entertainment industry in it’s quake—a bit unpredictable. Show outcomes still feel out of their control, as no-show rates continue to fluctuate as high as 20% according to Billboard.com 

City Winery knew early on that if they were to stay in business (and maintain their sanity), they couldn’t rely solely on in-person attendance and their standard marketing playbook. They needed to build a hybrid concert strategy to diversify their income stream and raise brand awareness.

While they were excited about the revenue potential and marketing opportunity that online concerts presented, going hybrid was relatively uncharted territory. And the process seemed not only daunting, but expensive.

Finding the Right Partner to De-Risk Revenue

City Winery’s VP of Programming, Shlomo Lipetz took the lead to identify their hybrid events partner. He wasn’t just looking for the best livestream platform to stream their shows; he sought a partner that could help them build a hybrid strategy—to help them regain stability by virtually amplifying their shows without breaking the bank. 

Mandolin was the natural fit.

With Mandolin, they could reduce the risk of no-shows and fluctuating ticket sales by selling livestream tickets and virtual meet & greets with each show. If their typical fans didn’t feel like coming, they could always join the party online.

The watch experience would allow them to expand wine and merch sales into their new (virtual) venue—adding a fully immersive e-commerce channel that would build upon the in-person revenue they typically enjoyed. But that wasn’t what sealed the deal.

“It’s easier than you think”

He soon discovered that outfitting their venues for livestream didn’t need to be complicated or overly expensive either.

Better yet, they didn’t have to worry about ticketing. They could either use Mandolin’s ticketing or leverage any of our integrations (in this case, AudienceView) to fit online events seamlessly into their existing business operations. 

And if any part of the process seemed too much, they could always tap Mandolin’s team for help with production, licensing, marketing or sponsorships—ensuring each event would run without a hitch. Even further, Mandolin’s support team would moderate the fan chat and offer technical assistance to their team and their fans with each show.

Keeping the (Virtual) Venue Full

Throughout the pandemic City Winery hosted a number of successful livestreams, but as spring turned into summer and live touring came roaring back, they found themselves missing some key streaming opportunities as they fully focused on their reopening process.

To make sure they kept the momentum they had built and take some of the livestream promotion off their hands, they opted in to Mandolin’s Venue Network program. By joining the network, they’d now get help from Mandolin’s industry-leading Artist Team (composed of former agents, promoters, and managers) to turn any non-streaming show on the calendar into online a hybrid concert experience—leaving the financial upside to City Winery with none of the financial risk or responsibility.

Marketing Gets Immersive

As City Winery fleshed out their hybrid strategy with Mandolin, they began to see livestream as not just a revenue driver, but as a marketing experience to fuel in-person audience growth. 

Mandolin’s one-to-one and one-to-many VIP solutions let them get creative with the virtual experience as well—enabling virtual wine tastings from home and Q&A sessions with artists that  helped them engage and grow their audience.

These innovative fan experiences expose net new fans to the venue who were excited to come back in person when comfortable or convenient for them.

Business Insights, Icing on the Cake

The best part of all of it? By bringing their experiences online, City Winery gets the data & insights they need to understand what’s working and what’s not—removing the guesswork from hybrid events. With Mandolin Studio, City Winery gets a 30,000 foot view of their hybrid business strategy—uncovering which shows, merchandise, and experiences are selling best (and why). 

With fully exportable data, City Winery grows their marketing database with each experience they host on the platform. They can then re-market to these fans to bring them back in-person or virtually.

Stability and Steady Business Growth

By bringing their venue online with Mandolin, City Winery has blazed a trail for venues across the globe and opened the door to unforeseen business opportunities. Their forward thinking in the midst of a global pandemic didn’t just keep them afloat, they expanded—opening a massive, new location in Hudson River Park including two venues & bars.

They even went on to launch a custom-branded livestream channel on Mandolin, dubbed CWTV. This was one of the many factors that led to their nomination for the first-ever “Best Livestream Venue” at the 2021 Pollstar Awards.

It All Starts With a Conversation.

Even the biggest successes start with the smallest actions. Drop us a line in the form below to discuss hybridizing your venue. We’d love to jump on a call to learn more about your venue and find a solution that works for your business.


Highlights

120+ livestreams to date