Brooke Michael Kain spends a lot of time thinking about what annoys people in crowds the most. What do they find frustrating? Ineffective? Ridiculous? She then preaches the same question over and over to her team: How can we take these things away?
“Did you stand in line for a beer too long? Did you arrive and wish you had a different ticket?” Kain says. “These are the things we can fix.”
Kain is the first-ever chief digital officer at live-events company AEG Presents, where she’s using technology and customer data to help design more exciting, personalized concert-going experiences. The company created the role for Kain, who came to AEG in 2016 after stints at Apple, Beats, and Interscope and now leads behind-the-scenes projects at events like Stagecoach, where this year’s attendees received text messages offering them exclusive merch and VIP-upgrade discounts based on their loyalty level. Kain has assembled various executives, developers, and project managers across the company (to whom she proudly refers as her “Navy SEALs”) to meticulously compile user information across platforms, resulting in a program that delivered in-the-moment deals to concert-goers based on their interests and loyalty level. Stagecoach was a successful test run: Kain’s team also recently partnered with Postmates for a skip-the-line program at Coachella, and is queuing up other programs to give shows a more intimate feel, with the overarching ambition being to bring artists and fans closer together than ever before possible.
She’s already done that within her own company, by pairing up disparate departments and expanding her own team from 11 people to more than 70. She works with a mix of people from veteran industry executives to tech-savvy new faces eager to learn. When hiring, she says she looks for two traits in young people interested in entering the industry these days — passion and coachability — contrary to most other tech-driven ventures’ mentality that skill level is all-important.
“It doesn’t matter if someone isn’t fluent in three programming languages,” Kain says. “I can teach them programming. But the music industry is a wacky place. No matter how smart you are, you can’t walk into a room and always be right; you have to be hungry to learn.”