Alex Lysychenko of Show4me: “The last part in your initial planning is your event’s concept”

The very first thing you need to do is decide if your event is going to be free or paid. This determines your budget and your audience, and even event format in many cases. For our artists, if they do a free social media stream every day, we recommend to stop their free streams for […]

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The very first thing you need to do is decide if your event is going to be free or paid. This determines your budget and your audience, and even event format in many cases. For our artists, if they do a free social media stream every day, we recommend to stop their free streams for a month and dedicate their time to developing the paid show and promoting that on social media.

As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Lysychenko.

Alex Lysychenko is the Head of Artist Relations Department at Show4me Music Interaction Network. Alex began his journey in the music industry back in high school when he joined a small cover band and helped organize school events. In college, he became part of the student government and advocated for the creative arts, helping secure funding for music projects, equipment, and concerts. Alex’s hobby turned into a job as an event promoter, which he combined with his Masters’ studies at the Kyiv National Linguistic University. That’s when Alex worked on his first project with Show4me — a new platform for musicians and music professionals to monetize music and shows. After organizing a successful concert for the platform in 2016, Alex got an offer from the company to come on board as a marketing assistant. He has now grown to lead a department of his own managing artist relations at the company, overseeing nine artist relations managers, and helping musicians build their brands and put together events.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

As a child, I was very into music. When I was 12, my parents took me to an opera and the violinist there took my breath away. I got obsessed with the violin, absolutely adored musicians who played classical music, and wanted to be like them. My parents wanted to encourage my passion and took me to a music school to study classical guitar. It was all very rigid and overwhelming to me — I did not like the type of music we learned there and the teaching environment was just very dull, so I quit after just a month.

Nonetheless, my lukewarm first experience with learning to play an instrument did not repel me from music, and I went on to learn to play an electric guitar — it allowed me to play the music I actually loved and I could remember the chords and progressions effortlessly. This was about the time when I discovered Coldplay — my absolute favorite band of all time. Parachutes [Coldplay debut studio album, released in 2000 — ed.] is, in my opinion, one of the best albums of all time, I still love all songs there and have actually met the album’s sound producer Ken Nelson in person! Here’s a photo of him and me on my Instagram. My goal now is to meet Chris Martin and learn more about the band’s music and the incredible shows they stage.

Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?

Event organization seemed to be in my bones — since high school, I just could not stay away from events. School concerts, band performances, rehearsals, I had to catch them all) I was doing event organization for various music projects both for myself (I’ve been in two cover bands) and other musicians, worked a lot with DJs and helping put together sets and promote events for them.

So I started out as a music promoter and then through an event I helped promote for the company that I am now with got into this area of artist promotion and event organization via digital means. This was in 2016. Now I manage my own department of very proactive and capable young people who joined me in helping musicians put together events and manage their music brand, grow their fanbase. They make me proud every day!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In my sophomore year at college I had a part-time job in a sales department, cold-calling people about specialized TV subscription plans — Discovery, Sports, and the like. There was this one client that everyone in our department knew — each time he got our call, he’d proceed to sell his own services to the unlucky manager whose turn it was to call him. As a rookie employee, I spent more than half an hour on the phone with him, not having a clue how to end his sales pitch. And having to do an average of 100 dials a day, this was definitely not the most optimal way to use my time. This is where I learnt to recognize a no early to prevent other opportunities from passing me by)

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I guess the most impactful was Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. The way Captain Nemo created his very own unstoppable world in an environment deemed unlivable — under the sea — it blew my mind and inspired me to go beyond limits, to look for creative solutions where there seemed to be a brick wall ahead of me.

To my teenage mind, what Nemo did was revolutionary and it shaped my vision of the world and my role in it — how much a single person can do. Nemo had everything he needed for a happy life, he could go anywhere. He and his creativity became the symbol of ultimate freedom for me, and applying creativity to go beyond, to break barriers is what I strive for in my work and life to this day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Walt Disney’s “Whatever you do, do it well.” It’s the best advice, honestly. There’s this trend nowadays, and it’s very evident in the music industry, where I work, to do things just because they are trendy and will get you views and likes, go viral on TikTok, etc. For me, doing something well, in an inspired way, is more important.

It’s the things that nobody thought would work that ended up changing the world. If you continue doing what has been successful before, you are just replicating someone else’s success and not bringing anything of your own, your own work, your own blood and sweat into it. But if you do what you do well, start to finish, on your own, you have the chance to really bring something to the table. People will value it. Bohemian Rhapsody was too long for the radio in its time, and look what an iconic track it is now.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing events in general?

Propelled by my excitement and experience with concerts and shows that I helped put together, I went on to help create and promote DJ events and then ended up at Show4me. Professionally, I’ve been organizing events for about five years.

With Show4me being a digital platform for concert ticketing and promotion (among other things), I helped put together dozens of live music shows across the globe — the US, Canada, UK, Australia. My team and I help musicians organize, market, and sell tickets to their shows.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing live virtual events? Can you share any interesting stories about them?

For me, just like for many people both in the music industry and other lines of work, virtual events began with the first pandemic lockdowns at the beginning of 2020 — people had to stay home and musicians and show organizers saw their sets, concerts, appearances, and festivals cancelled.

Show4me launched online concert functionality in April [of 2020 — ed.], and that’s when my team and I started helping musicians create events that were not just promoted and ticketed online, they took place online. We’ve had over 400 shows since then.

At the beginning, there was a lot of figuring out of the details and smoothing out various logistic details. Some musicians were late to the stream because they were in a traffic jam on their way to the venue. We had to figure out what to do with the audience already in the stream. We had to let them know about the situation and, to our surprise, the fans were actually very understanding and began chatting between themselves, anticipating the show, and it was a very unifying, spirited moment that helped add to the quality of the experience.

Another time, a show video engineer switched our test live stream on for the whole audience of the show and at that exact moment I was testing the video chat functionality (I was posing as a fan) and my face froze all over the screen but the artist did not know that and he began playing his very serious solo piano intro with my face frozen in the most crazy way all over the screen. Fans had a blast with that one.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job creating live virtual events? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

One of my favorite trade shows in the industry — Midem — went digital this year, and while I loved attending the conference in person in Cannes, the digital edition was quite good. It was set up so professionally, they had a selection of amazing speakers who offered up some of-the-moment advice and insights, helping musicians and also us, as music industry professionals, adjust to the pandemic reality and make the best out of all the options we had.

The conference organizers provided a comprehensive digital platform for the event, it was not just Zoom or YouTube video broadcasts. You could actually chat with the speakers and attendees, network, just like with the real thing. We’ve made a ton of useful connections thanks to that. I’m still getting notifications in my email and still finding contacts in the industry through Digital Midem.

I guess to replicate that kind of success you really need to invest time, effort, and resources into a quality program and provide extensive digital communication options for your guests so that it’s not a one-way street and people can actually connect and interact.

What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to run a live virtual event? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Not doing a soundcheck, not checking the speed of the internet connection, using a PC or laptop that’s just not powerful enough to transmit a live video feed in good enough quality — this results in the stream lagging and a bad experience for your attendees. A simple run-through ahead of time can help spot these issues and come up with ways to resolve them, but it has to be done with enough time to spare before the event in case you need to fix any issues, it can’t happen right before your event.

Another common mistake is expecting people to just show up. Extensive promotion is essential to a successful virtual event.

For musicians, a popular mistake is not coming up with an exciting show concept or theme. Just me playing my music is not a theme. Fans need to have a reason to show up and your theme is part of your marketing and promotion, the event needs to have a hook to draw the audiences in.

Which virtual platform have you found to be most effective to be able to bring everyone together virtually?

Well, I’m biased here)) For us and our needs it’s Show4me, of course, as the platform was built specifically to meet the needs of the artists to build a community around their music, put together shows, and as of this year — stream them online. But looking at the broader landscape, YouTube is excellent as a streaming platform for almost any business or initiative. It’s very well crafted, the interface is simple and intuitive, the stream is very easy to set up, everything is so well-thought out. For example, the countdown functionality. It’s a great tool to build excitement for your show since your audiences need a mental switch from their home environment to the event.

Are there any essential tools or software that you think an event organizer needs to know about?

If you are broadcasting from a desktop, your must-haves are OBS, a free open source broadcasting software, or a more professional vMix. For mobile, I’d recommend using Larix Broadcaster or Streamlabs.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. An in-person event can have a certain electric energy. How do you create an engaging and memorable event when everyone is separated and in their own homes? What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

I will be repeating myself here, but you can’t provide your guests with electric energy unless your video and audio quality is up to par. One of the shows we helped put together was for this Burnley (UK) alternative band All Hail Hyena. They played a hybrid event with most viewers watching from home and a handful were present at the venue. The quality of the sound and video blew us away. It honestly made the experience for all of the attendees. And for music events, this is what people are coming for, right? The music.

Another important way to engage the audience is to continuously exchange feedback — have a live stream of comments and reactions and talk to your guests, take questions, read out some comments, make people feel connected. This is actually pretty exhausting for the artist as they have to both play their music and keep track of all the feedback coming in, but it’s worth it. Another UK artist, a pianist-extraordinaire Stephen Ridley aced this type of interaction in his show that our team helped him put together this past October.

This actually reminds me of another point — ticket types. You can create numerous ticket types for your event in various price ranges to allow your fans to be as involved with you and your event as they want to. For shows, we encourage artists to offer bundled tickets that include merch, one-on-one hangouts, music lessons, shout-outs, etc. Latin-American music duo Los Soneros (they work in the UK) is one of our best examples of leveraging this. They sing happy birthday songs and song dedications to their fans who have bought the dedication tickets — this helps keep the show program personal and is very exciting for the fans.

And remember that with live shows you can experiment, you don’t have to replicate your usual in-person event experience. With music concerts, artists rarely have an opening or closing act these days, or a host for that matter. All of that adds to the excitement for the live event. To compensate for that, our most successful musicians actually work on building up the hype before the event. With a virtual show, every post you make, every Story you post, they all become part of the experience for your fans. Our artist Larissa Goretkin is one of the best at this, she posts about her upcoming shows, records personal videos inviting fans to the event and explaining what will be there, generally building the hype for the show so that fans feel like they are a part of something exciting and totally unmissable.

And my fifth thing will be the location. A cool location can take your show to another level. Our artist T Brixson held an unforgettable show this summer streamed live from lake Como! Can you imagine? There was a pool party in the background and the view was to die for, that’s the kind of content that makes your fans and guests excited for your event and keeps them talking for days, weeks, and even months after.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

The very first thing you need to do is decide if your event is going to be free or paid. This determines your budget and your audience, and even event format in many cases. For our artists, if they do a free social media stream every day, we recommend to stop their free streams for a month and dedicate their time to developing the paid show and promoting that on social media.

Next, find the platform you are comfortable with and that suits the needs of your particular event. You need to test it out very thoroughly, to be very familiar with the place in order to understand your guests’ experience and deliver a quality virtual event.

The last part in your initial planning is your event’s concept. Regardless of whether or not you are in music, you need to understand what value you are bringing to the audience in order to plan your event well and then promote it successfully.

And after all of this you need to focus on the technical part — the equipment you need, your budget, the staff you might need to hire, etc. Music or not, a good camera and a mic is not something you can forgo with a virtual event.

Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d start a movement to educate musicians about doing business in the industry, managing themselves and their music and shows. There’s so much talent out there who just don’t know where to start and how to manage certain aspects of their work on their own. There are so many tools nowadays to earn money on music and they just don’t teach any of that in music schools, which is a shame.

My team and I do this every day with all the musicians we work with, and we also try to put out educational materials online, and we’d love for more music pros to be doing the same — educating each other, making sure every music talent out there has access to this information and gets the chance to use all the means available to make their music heard, reach fans, and be paid for their work.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

You are not going to be surprised — I’d love to lunch with Chris Martin. I think he’s an extraordinary talent and the way he transforms the music industry, I’d be so curious to learn about that, see where he gets his inspiration for his songs and to just see what the man’s like in person!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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