With The xx
mailing free tickets to fans who have pre-ordered their new album, I See You,
this style of getting people into concerts made me think, "Does it actually work as a marketing technique? And can other bands try to do the same thing?"
An artist or band, and especially one the with the popularity of The xx, would want to make money through their live performances, and giving tickets out for free looks, on the surface, like doing exactly not
that. However, in the long term, mailing free tickets to fans may actually be beneficial to bands. They could be doing this as an act of appreciation for their fans, and promoting them to stick around in the future, because a loyal fan base is one that is going to promote the artist to other people, and will get more people to see the bands' shows. On The xx's ticket invitations, they do say that the tickets are also for a friend as well, so maybe by giving fans tickets to their shows, they are actually opening up the door for totally new xx fans. And with The xx being such a popular group, and having seven sold out nights at the O2 Brixton Academy alone, they are in a position to make risky marketing techniques.
This could also not be very effective. If they were only giving these tickets to people who preordered their album, then chances are these are the same people who would be the most likely to actually buy a ticket for one of these concerts. And while they're not going to suffer too much, because they are The xx, this could be a useless act, and could've just as easily sold tickets to the fans, and they would be just as happy. And it's not like the tickets for The xx are a lot of money, either. Judging from the prices of the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff shows and the Zenith de Paris shows, the costs are $27.77 and $35.63, respectively. Besides, I think the major cost for people for getting to shows is actually getting there. So maybe like, mail a Greyhound ticket or something, guys?
Another place where a similar discussion is seen is in the Grateful Dead's handling of taping in 1984. People were bootlegging their shows, and instead of punishing them for taping, they gave the bootleggers a section where they could actually tape the live show. As a result, more people than ever were exposed to the band; and in the long run, they were actually able to amass more fans, sell more tickets, and develop a huge cult following. Now recording shows are actually expected, as it's not unusual to see a sea of glowing screens in the air, taking videos. And when those videos are posted to YouTube, it lets people who didn't go to the concert in on the experience, and if they like what they see, then they are more likely to buy a ticket. So it could be that The xx giving fans free tickets might just be their version of allowing more fans in. It seems like a freer policy on concerts tends to bring in more people.
For underground bands and artists, a freer mentality on concerts might be more effective for them too. It's an investment for a person to go see a band that they have never heard of before, and it's hard to get people to willingly pay for tickets if the artist has not made a connection with them yet, by allowing some free tickets for people who show interest, and by allowing recording and posting on social media, it can only grow intrigue in the band or artist.
And I imagine this is what The xx was thinking with this decision. And while this might not actually do anything, people sure do love free stuff.