Technology / 04.19.23
Made Media’s Baggaley on Digital Leadership in Ticketing and Live Events
There are many types of leadership — executive leadership, delegative leadership, transformational leadership and so forth. Made Media CEO James Baggaley is particularly interested in digital leadership. So much so that it was an area of focus for him when he served as an Inspiration Stage speaker at the recent INTIX 2023.
He says, “Being a digital leader in any sector is challenging because you need to bridge technical, commercial and interpersonal skills to deliver a great digital experience. I think it’s even more challenging in the ticketing and live events space, because on top of everything else, you have these moments of peak demand where everyone is trying to buy a ticket at the same time. You have really emotionally invested fans trying to book tickets to see their favorite act or team; you have the complexity of selling thousands of unique products [seats] rather than just thousands of copies of the same widget; and you have to blend together the online and in-person journeys in a way that elevates the experience for the audience.”
What makes for a great digital leader in INTIX members’ line of work? According to Baggaley, they must have “an understanding of these challenges and some strategies for addressing them. I have a set of digital leadership behaviors that I referenced in my session at INTIX 2023, from being able to manage the strategic trade-offs of digital projects to being able to navigate new digitally enabled business models with confidence.”
Baggaley knows what he is talking about. Made Media is a digital agency that works with arts and culture organizations around the globe. He is U.K.-based but works with clients from London to Sydney to Los Angeles. “So, there’s a lot of time zone hopping involved!” he quips.
Baggaley joined Made Media as Strategy Director in 2017 and was elevated to CEO three years later. His background is in arts management and digital technology. Prior to Made Media, he was Administrative Director at The Place, regarded as the United Kingdom’s center for contemporary dance in London. “Before that, I held several leadership roles at Spektrix, including Head of Marketing and Sales, and I spent a year based in New York when we opened Spektrix’s first U.S. office in 2014,” he says.
Made Media works with orchestras, performing arts centers, opera companies, dance companies, museums, theaters and many other types of live event organizations to deliver digital experiences to their audiences. Its client organizations include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, the Royal Albert Hall and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Baggaley says, “Our aim is to be strategic digital partners to our clients, helping them not just implement their ideas in the digital world but craft their strategies in a digital-first way. We only work with organizations that sell tickets to live events, exhibitions or experiences, so our team has a huge amount of experience navigating the complex user experience and integration requirements that comes from working in this space.”
In his experience, where have INTIX members and their organizations been lacking in developing digital leadership behaviors? His reply: “One huge challenge for our sector is that many organizations have huge brands, but without the budgets or teams that similarly visible brands might have in other sectors. This means that expectations are often very high, and our clients must work hard — and smartly — to meet them.”
He continues, “Another common issue is that digital responsibilities have emerged over a long period of time and been shared commonly between marketing, IT and ticketing teams. This can mean that any digital problems or new initiatives need to be managed by a committee, and [they often] lack strategic cohesiveness. Just occasionally, I have seen this shared responsibility work well, when the team works incredibly collaboratively and shows strong team dynamics such as being able to disagree in front of external partners like us. But it’s always a warning sign to me if digital responsibility is shared, and on client calls no decisions are made because they need to be agreed in a back room before they can be presented to us as the agency.”
There are some basic steps decision-makers in ticketing and live events can take to “get the ball rolling” in this regard. The first question Baggaley asks is: “Do you have a digital leader in your organization?” Most of Made Media’s clients see the vast majority of their revenue coming in via online channels. “If the person in your organization who is responsible for managing those channels day-to-day is not someone in a senior position in your team, then that’s a good place to start,” Baggaley says. “Then, give them the authority to own the digital experience of the organization and access to the training and skills they need to manage this. Sometimes this person is a Director of Digital or a Chief Digital Officer, and that can be helpful to signpost to the rest of the organization and external partners like us — this person has credibility and authority. But there are plenty of other models that work.”
Baggaley acknowledges the challenges. After all, digital projects can be a catalyst for great change within an organization, and that is a positive thing. “But it also can put a huge amount of pressure onto any new digital initiatives,” he says. “As a leader of a digital agency, I want people to be excited about digital projects and experiences, but I also want to manage expectations. None of these projects is going to solve an organization’s problems overnight. The best digital experiences are created with an in-depth understanding of what your users and audiences want. If you crack that and deliver it for them, you’ll succeed.”
Looking ahead, Baggaley is feeling positive with Made Media’s prospects for 2023 and beyond. He concludes, “Our longest-standing client is Glyndebourne Opera, who we have been working with continuously since 2010. We have several others who have been clients for over a decade and through several major iterations of website design and organizational change. 2023 is a heady mix of delivering projects for some of these long-standing clients, as well as some brand-new ones!”
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Tags: Technology , Digital Leadership