Gearing Up for The Last Event Planner You’ll Ever Need

Sunday, 10 June 2007
by martind
filed under Tips and Tricks
Comments: 42

I hate planning my weekends.

Figuring out what’s going on is already hard in any moderately sized city; the metropolises I’ve been living in over the last years are a bitch when it comes to that. The event calendars I’ve used so far all have in common that they allow easy access to everything in their event schedule. They let you browse, they let you search. They also have in common that they let you do the work.

No matter which listings you end up using it’s a lot of work to filter through the crap. I’m personally a little annoyed that planning a weekend often means aggregating and consuming long listings from different sources, where most of the announcements aren’t even interesting to you. (Not to speak of the fact that most big event calendars have a distinct mainstream bias.)

In short, what I really want are better filtering mechanisms.

And the crowd goes wild, by ffg. CC attribution license 2.0.

Modern Event Listings

We’re only starting to get to a point where automated tools take away some of this tedious work. Where we have mechanisms that act as spam filter for event listings.

For a really long time Peter Oliver’s UpcomingScrobbler was the state of the art. It is based on’s listening data and Upcoming‘s excellent (if verbose) listings. When you have an active account UpcomingScrobbler can search events for artists you’ve been listening to, in a region of your choice, which is a really good filtering mechanism for music-related events. Doesn’t require any work on your side, adapts to your changes in taste.

I also really like to use people as filtering mechanisms. There are a lot of communities, blogs and personal sites where people post interesting announcements, so for you it boils down to finding the right mediator for your taste. In Berlin De:Bug Events is an excellent club-oriented one published by De:Bug magazine, and for a while was a curated event listing of legendary high quality. In London we have Fail/List, Kultureflash, Lesson No. 1, Plan B, ...

There even are some closed communities that require invitations to join, in an attempt to keep the quality high and the listings on topic. Sometimes it works really well. But the one’s I’ve used had some major drawbacks, often caused by their closed nature. (Berlin has a pretty big one which uses a Flash interface — along with the obvious usability problems. No feeds, no password autocompletion, etc.)

But you get the picture. There are some very good listings, but you still have to spend time browsing through them all. If you can find them in the first place.

In late 2006, a small team of developers set out to change that.

Cue Events

It’s maybe no surprise that our relatively new events feature is quickly becoming a major attraction: It has rarely been so easy to keep informed of upcoming concerts, catered to your own musical taste. And of course our event recommendations adapt to your changing musical focus — as you listen to new music we’re finding the appropriate events for you. As long as we know about an event we have no problem satisfying even esoteric tastes.

Our events overview page allows you to browse by location and venue — which makes us an excellent worldwide event listing, and a great starting point when you visit other cities. Of course you can set a preferred location so it always displays listings for your area.

The heart of our system is its excellent filtering mechanism. We match your listening profile against a huge database of events, which means all you have to do to get notified of a concert is to scrobble the artist, and the resulting list of events will then show on your dashboard as recommended events, along with concerts your friends go to. You can e.g. use the dashboard, global event pages, or venue pages to browse events, and after you flag your attendance they’ll show up on your profile page as a personal event listing. Recommended Events

Of course we offer a variety of feeds — e.g. personal event feeds, which are an excellent way to keep on top of your local music ecosystem. Subscribe to the event feeds of venues, to your friends feed, or feeds of people in your local area who listen to interesting music. (A good way to find those is to check out the attendees list for events you’ve gone to yourself, I’m sure you’ll find people with well-groomed event attendance lists.)

As a result of all this, Events is not only a great listing with a huge database, it’s also a personalised spam filter, and can additionally act as both a collaborative and a curated recommendation mechanism.

Leaving Traces of Pop Culture Context

Roskilde Festival 2006, Roskilde –

Roskilde Festival 2006, by Stig Nygaard. CC attribution license 2.0

I also really like that we have a focus on being able to browse past events; other event calendars usually hide everything that’s older than “today”. This is a bit of a selfish feature as we want people to write reviews and post photos, but it has the side-effect of creating a huge canvas of pop culture context. And on venue pages you can browse for photos of past events to check out the ambience of places you’ve never been to.

As a geek I’m quite intrigued by Flickr’s machine tags feature we’re using to create this integration — it can become the basis for a number of interesting Flickr tools, and I’m confident people will come up with all kind of great ideas. (I’m personally waiting for someone to develop a Flickr tool to automatically geotag your event photos based on the venue address provided by

All Tomorrow’s Parties

clark @ cargo, by dekstop. CC attribution NC license 2.0, with permission.

I’m curious what your thoughts are on our events system. Does it satisfy your needs? What features are you missing? Are there any event calendars you still like better? If so, which ones, and why?

(I’m now relying on our events system for most of my weekend planning. This weekend I’m spending my evenings at Galvanised festival, right around the corner here in Hackney, East London. Three nights of electronic and noise music, mostly local independent artists. I found out about it because I had listened to full-length previews of one of the artists on, which put them in my charts, which made Galvanised show up in my “recommended events” feed.)


  1. Bart
    10 June, 17:23

    The local events overview is my absolute favorite feature! I love being able to say: give me all performances for artists I listen to within a distance of 60 miles (can I change that to kilometers?) and then subscribe to that feed. Thanks for that functionality.

    For some artists I’d go see them even if they’re further than 60 miles away, other artists I’m not interested in seeing if they’re outside my city. I’d like to be able to have an events overview which takes that into account: one which shows me performances for artists which are further away than 60 miles, and on the other hand, which also shows some more obscure artists if they’re performing in the city I live in. Maybe with a slider similar to the obscure/popular slider. I’d also like to be able to show all festivals in my city. (Even if they don’t have any artists I listen to – music is only one of the reasons I go to a festival.)

    For the large festivals the events page acts as a really nice community tool. On the event page for Lowlands people are discussing the latest rumors on the lineup. When artists announce they’re playing at the event on their own website, people add them to the lineup on the event page even before they’re officially announced by the festival organisation. Excellent way to keep up-to-date about your favorite festival! The shouts on the event page are limited though (maximum number of shouts, no threads) – it’d be nice if each event had a forum where more discussions can take place.

    For the large multi-day festivals the lineup is an important part of the event. A possible improvement would be to be able to add an exact day and time to the performance of an artist at an event, and maybe have an overview of the programme from that.

    These are just some minor nits though – I already really really love the events functionality just the way it is!

    Bart – 10 June, 17:23
  2. sboy2010
    10 June, 17:30

    Loving it already! It’s spot on with the recommendations.

    The feature I’d like to request is a way to delete a recommendation, to say ‘No Thanks, I’m not interested’ and so clean up the calendar.

    At this stage, I’m not bothered that it doesn’t adapt recommendations based on my deletions. In fact it might be better that way, as there are often reasons I can’t go to a gig that are more than ‘I don’t want to’ (logistics, availability, venue preferences, etc).

    Keep up the good work. You innovate, we’ll use it!

    sboy2010 – 10 June, 17:30
  3. Jelle
    10 June, 18:43

    I love’s event-feature, have already used it happily and can’t really think of anything that needs change.

    Jelle – 10 June, 18:43
  4. luck_y
    10 June, 19:03

    I’ll add to the general praise that this is my favourite feature and is set to revolutionize worldwide how we find out about and attend gigs. I love the emphasis on community and how you can talk to other interested folk about the gig afterwards as well as share reviews, photos etc.

    Personally I’d like to add 2 requests:

    (1) An efficient notification method for when new recommended events are added. Rather than scroll through the list and notice if there’s anything new there that you hadn’t seen before, it would be good if you could get an email sent to you when someone adds a recommended event in your area. This will help immensely when planning to purchase tickets before they are sold out. I currently have a similar setup going by plugging the iCal feed into Google Calendar, but it would be good to get this functionality in house!

    (2) Get the events feature on facebook now! I know you’re probably working on it, but there’s no question that it would be a huge success. Already my friends are complaining about the iLike (yuk!) events feature and it’s many problems (such as being US-centric). The database is excellent and will certainly be an extremely useful feature on facebook.

    Keep up the wonderful work guys!

    luck_y – 10 June, 19:03
  5. schrollum
    10 June, 19:17

    what about automatically importing events from various event-sites? I think this is already working in the UK (??), but what about other countries. right now it’s still the users who have to do “the work of adding”, and some obscure artist’s events may not even get added by anyone..

    apart from this, I love this feature. thanks to the event system I go to far more concerts than before. I could look up the number of concerts/month or year (and how it has changed over time) on my events page but I’m too lazy..

    schrollum – 10 June, 19:17
  6. Julian Stahnke
    10 June, 19:41

    The local events overview is my absolute favorite feature! I love being able to say: give me all performances for artists I listen to within a distance of 60 miles (can I change that to kilometers?) and then subscribe to that feed. Thanks for that functionality.

    If you browsed in, say, German, all the distances would be in km indeed :)

    Julian Stahnke – 10 June, 19:41
  7. Phil K
    10 June, 19:53

    The idea is great, what I am looking forward to is a slider similar to the obscure/popular slider.

    There’s that massive load of rock/indie-artists that everyone scrobbles now and then without being actually interested in them.

    QUOTE:...which means all you have to do to get notified of a concert is to scrobble the artist, and the resulting list of events will then show on your dashboard as recommended events…END OF QUOTE

    This idea turns into the systems biggest weakpoint when your scrobbling habbits tend to be “open minded” (as an example, in my case, I listen to both electronica and indie/rock):

    It results in my events recommendation page showing me 30-40 possible events of indie artists that I do not plan to attend, as for my electronica artists, people simply don’t submit that much events for them…keep in mind that London is totally different from the typical 150.000 people-towns in Germany.

    So I’d like to sort of ban every artist with less than 15 plays from my “alert-pool”.

    Phil K – 10 June, 19:53
  8. Mark
    10 June, 20:02

    As much as I love the events system, I still can’t use it over Upcoming for one simple thing – the ability to ‘watch’ events.

    A ‘watchlist’ is so essential to planning what I might want to go to without declaring to friends that I’m ‘attending’ (which to me sounds like, and should be, a definite thing).

    Mark – 10 June, 20:02
  9. Paranoid Android
    10 June, 20:03

    I love the events feature. Really. But since yesterday, i cant add more events, i put all the information and then… “There was an error previewing this new event, please try again.” and nothing came after.


    I know that this is not a support forum, but i think its a little funny that you came with this post about the greatness of the events and for the moment the system is not working.

    Cheers from México

    Paranoid Android – 10 June, 20:03
  10. Ben Ward
    10 June, 21:49

    I completely second the call for a ‘Watchlist’ or flagging type feature ala Upcoming. The ability to just note something for later, or express interest without commitment is a huge plus.

    Personally, I use Upcoming for all my events planning. Any gig I add through Last.FM inevitably gets duplicated on Upcoming. Whether it’s of any use I don’t know, but when I create a gig event on Upcoming, I always add the event machine tag to the upcoming event, making it possible to link the two together.

    I wouldn’t say no to an ‘Add to my Upcoming’ feature too, just to make my life easier. I appreciate that might be a bit of a conflict in terms of service providers, though.

    Ben Ward – 10 June, 21:49
  11. Bart
    10 June, 22:31

    within a distance of 60 miles (can I change that to kilometers?)

    If you browsed in, say, German, all the distances would be in km indeed :)

    Thanks, I did try configuring Firefox to send a Content-Language header containing ‘nl’, but I just noticed there’s no Dutch translation, so that explains why that didn’t work. :)

    Bart – 10 June, 22:31
  12. martind
    11 June, 00:31

    woa guys — really cool feedback, thanks!

    schrollum — yes, we’re already receiving event feeds from different sources, and are actively pursuing to expand.

    mark — I like the watchlist idea. I’m already abusing attendance as a bookmarking feature, for me flagging an event doesn’t always mean I’ll actually go. steve is aware of this shortcoming/potential for improvement (he is the creator of the events system), we’ll see how it develops. (in the end it boils down to prioritising the time we can spend on implementing stuff.) regardless, he has some more great ideas up his sleeve, you just watch…

    martind – 11 June, 00:31
  13. Jevon
    11 June, 01:31

    The events system is great, except for maybe three flaws I can think of:

    I live in Palmerston North, New Zealand. The event system struggles with finding this address (you have to search for it first), but this is only a minor problem.

    Adding multiple events can get tedious, and it’s quite easy to break the Javascript/DHTML. I’d suggest adding a “add multiple events for one venue” form, since I’m the major event submitter for one venue in town.

    One final problem: For the iCal feeds, can the feed include past events as well? Google Calendar only displays events in iCal feeds, and does not remember what events there have been.

    Jevon – 11 June, 01:31
  14. Thomas Hawk
    11 June, 09:30

    1. More localisation would be great. I live in central London and 95% of the events I go to are within 5 miles.

    2. Publicise the events feature more with Promoters & Venues – the more people submitting events the better

    3. Finding recommended events works well if you are into bands and the artist has a profile on It works less well when you are into electronic music – where its all about which DJ is playing. More often than not the DJ won’t have a profile, so the recommendation system will berak down. Perhaps if you could apply tags to events (ie what genre is this event) then the recommendation system would have a chance to match your taste in music to which DJ’s are playing that night.

    Thomas Hawk – 11 June, 09:30
  15. eric casteleijn
    11 June, 11:18

    I love the event system, most of all that there’s a recommendation feed now. One small feature I would love to see for festival like events is an automatic radio station of all the acts playing it. Right now if I add an event of that nature, I have to look up all the artists twice, once for adding the event, and once for tagging them with the name of the festival (for instance ‘lowlands 2007’) so that I can check them all out before attending. Not sure how much of an edge case I am though…

    eric casteleijn – 11 June, 11:18
  16. martind
    11 June, 11:27

    Paranoid Android — Steve just told me that he found the bug and fixed it. Creating new events should work for you now.

    martind – 11 June, 11:27
  17. coxy
    11 June, 11:48

    I’m a big Upcoming user and flying their flag; so was disappointed that Yahoo! didn’t buy for lots of money and make you two chum up and do some nice stuff.


    Anyway. cough

    Yes, any events I add to are usually just duplicated from Upcoming. I do like how lets me upload a flyer, and that my friends actually use (as opposed to my friends not using Upcoming).

    I have noticed, however, that you have automatic adding of events through ticket partners. This causes problems with duplications whereby a user has manually added an event before the ticket sales event is fed into the system

    A good example is Art Brut, and here’s a pretty screenshot:
    click click – hosted by imageshack, innit

    love from coxy. x

    coxy – 11 June, 11:48
  18. goncalo
    11 June, 11:55

    The recommended event calendar is great but it aggregates my friend’s events without considering some are on different countries from me or attending shows abroad.

    Maybe some time of filter by number of people attending would be also interesting to find popular events like festivals.

    And what about when people mark the same event, there are more than one event with the same artist in the same day on different venues/cities? Should there be some sort of alarm?

    Sexta 22 de junho de 2007
    Mr. Flash (3) Mr. FlashThe Bastards (Pt) Coconuts
    5 irão

    Mr. Flash (2) Mr. FlashThe Bastards Cidadela de Cascais

    this is the same event, one is referring to the venue, the other to the city


    goncalo – 11 June, 11:55
  19. goncalo
    11 June, 11:57

    The recommended event calendar is great but it aggregates my friend’s events without considering some are on different countries from me or attending shows abroad.

    Maybe some time of filter by number of people attending would be also interesting to find popular events like festivals.

    And what about when people mark the same event, there are more than one event with the same artist in the same day on different venues/cities? Shouldn’t be some sort of alarm?

    Sexta 22 de junho de 2007
    Mr. Flash (3) Mr. FlashThe Bastards (Pt) Coconuts
    5 irão

    Mr. Flash (2) Mr. FlashThe Bastards Cidadela de Cascais

    this is the same event, one is referring to the venue, the other to the city


    goncalo – 11 June, 11:57
  20. Mikkel, webdude, Klauzdal
    11 June, 12:25

    From a venue point of view, it’s great that we just feed our events into your system, and you then push the data to the people in our neighborhood that are listening to the bands coming our way.

    It’s a win/win/win situation ( fan). Woohoo!


    Mikkel, webdude, Klauzdal – 11 June, 12:25
  21. Holden Caulfield
    11 June, 12:46

    Yes – create an automatic radio station for events/festivals if theres enough artists.

    What about radio stations for venues based on artists that have played there?

    what about an RSS feed for your recomended events?

    Holden Caulfield – 11 June, 12:46
  22. hirenj
    11 June, 12:48

    It’d be great if you could browse recommended events for a city without setting that city to be your default city.

    For example, I’m heading to Dublin in July, and I’d like to know if there are any gigs on which I’d be interested in.

    If I put in Dublin as the city on the events page, and then click through to the recommended events, Dublin becomes my default location, which isn’t what I want to do :).

    hirenj – 11 June, 12:48
  23. ssp
    11 June, 16:45

    The Events feature is definitely on the right track and starts making – beware! – useful.

    It still needs a little fine-tunin, I think. Particularly for those of us living in small towns. The ‘all within xx km’ way of selecting places you are interested in isn’t the most realistic approximation. I’d much rather be able to specify a number of cities I am interested in (say because friends of mine live there) while skipping those places in a certain radius where I can’t easily go.

    Other things I noticed: Sometimes the ‘related’ events listed for some gig can be thousands of kilometres away. A fun thing to know, perhaps. But not particularly useful.

    And then there’s of course the problem of event data being incorrect and seemingly hard to correct. I guess that one will be a bit harder to handle.

    But overall, nice job. Particularly with the subscribable calendars.

    ssp – 11 June, 16:45
  24. Hal 9000
    11 June, 21:00

    You should be able to place an artist on a “watchlist” – when somebody adds an event with that artist – you should get an email.

    Hal 9000 – 11 June, 21:00
  25. adam
    14 June, 18:31

    The events listing has been brilliant – and indeed I now use it to link to if I mention a gig on my own blog.

    My wishlist includes what is perhaps something of a curveball. I am a DJ, and run a couple of nights. I already put playlists on my website, but I was wondering whether there is some way to integrate this into the events listings – effectively to provide people with a better idea of what is played at particular nights. This of course is particularly important at “alternative” nights (I DJ industrial/electronic, and extreme metal) as punters are more likely to be…discerning? with what they want to hear.

    A database of which clubs are playing what could be invaluable, and would not only help promote bands’ new stuff, but would also provide us club/night promoters to reach people we may not have got to yet?

    adam – 14 June, 18:31
  26. gwalla
    15 June, 00:02

    Does the scrobbler pick up Composer info too? If so, it could possibly be useful for listing classical music events (people frequently decide to go to concerts based more on what composer’s music will be played, less by the performer).

    I know Last.FM is more pop-oriented, but it doesn’t have limit itself like that.

    gwalla – 15 June, 00:02
  27. Daneeeh
    15 June, 02:57

    Sometimes it sucks to live in Argenitna, specially when I realice that ill never see something like this over here.

    Daneeeh – 15 June, 02:57
  28. Christopher
    15 June, 12:11

    Ohh just wrote some stuff about this on the forum ( ) but in short:

    1. Festival dates only appear on individual band pages on the day the festival starts, not the day the band play. There’s no way to do that so far other than add a seperate individual listing for each band or each day.

    2. Can’t remove listing on your own (have to flag / wait) even though you can add as many as you like.

    3. Can’t remove artists from a listing if they pull out / are wrong etc.

    4. Possibly could have extra info fields like age restrictions etc.

    Christopher – 15 June, 12:11
  29. Hal 9000
    15 June, 12:48

    I’ve found the recommended events RSS feed – which works great.

    One thing however – it recommends events for artists that that you have listened to only once. Which means a fair few notifiations of events I’m not interested in.

    It should be possible to set a threshold for this – eg recommend me events for artists I have listened to more than (say) 3 times….

    Hal 9000 – 15 June, 12:48
  30. Scott
    15 June, 14:48

    First off, I love the events feature.

    Secondly, I hate you guys for doing it so well and so fast as I was working on a app with similar functionality; alas, beaten to the punch.

    Finally, I have been using your events feature since it launched and it’s great. I recently traveled to Amsterdam from the US and was able to attend a concert at Paradiso. This NEVER would have happened without your tool. Thank you!

    Scott – 15 June, 14:48
  31. thither
    15 June, 22:33

    Hmm, for some reason a comment I wrote earlier which mentioned a competing website got deleted… What’s the deal with that?

    thither – 15 June, 22:33
  32. martind
    16 June, 12:25

    thither — hm, I have no idea what happened, I’ll try to find out. We don’t usually delete comments just because they mention a competitor; if anything we’re encouraging those.

    martind – 16 June, 12:25
  33. Corey
    16 June, 16:52

    I think the events sections are pretty neat; to me, it’s like finding musical neighbors that actually are your neighbors.

    My only problem with right now is that everything is getting cluttered. Simplicity is under-rated.

    Corey – 16 June, 16:52
  34. netswipe
    18 June, 01:10

    Some thing, wich would be very cool: Not just finding events by area, but also people!!

    Thanks =)

    netswipe – 18 June, 01:10
  35. August James McBride III
    20 June, 07:19

    Hey, I’m really liking this.

    As an Under-21 show-goer, some sort of information about age restrictions for the shows, and a subsequent effect on the recommendations list would be nice.

    Cool stuff!

    August James McBride III – 20 June, 07:19
  36. Chris Guest
    24 June, 20:57

    It is awesome!

    Seriously, I’ve had my first chance to really get into it today and I love it. My only regret is that you have got there and done it before me and my mate did. Although you’ve done the idea proud, so fair play.

    I like that it indulges both my curiosity – in finding out what gigs I need to get myself to, and also my vanity – in building a whopping great list of all the gigs I’ve been to, complete with photos and reviews.

    Room for improvement? I think:

    1. Please can I have a widget of “My events” both future and past. Primarily I want a HTML one, but a Facebook one would be nice too.

    2. Could it be possible to group/browse/filter events by “scene”? For example, I live in Camden where there are obviously loads of gigs from loads of genres. Yes I suppose its a more sepcific way of saying location, but I think it could be something more than that.

    3. Videos – can we have videos from gigs that we have taken from the crowd? Even if they are embedded YouTube widgets?

    4. Tout-proof ticket exchange – perhaps a big one to plan and action, but you guys will REALLY hit the big time if you tie to this an ethical ticket exchange where gig tickets can only be traded AT FACE VALUE.

    Keep up the good work!

    Chris Guest – 24 June, 20:57
  37. Debs
    25 June, 13:04

    I’m really looking forward to Live Earth managed to get a ticket, if you want to go I hear that there are a few tickets up for grabs on

    Debs – 25 June, 13:04
  38. Kate
    29 June, 17:41

    The events calendar works well for scrobbled music and recommended stuff, but it would be nice to be able to add artists you don’t own music by (e.g. just heard on the radio/at friend’s house etc.) to keep track of them too.

    Kate – 29 June, 17:41
  39. thither
    6 July, 05:42

    The comment snarf could have been an error on my side, didn’t mean to imply a sinister motive. The site I was going to recommend was It has a limited number of areas covered, but it combines an aggregation of events (from ticket vendors and user submissions) with a per-user wishlist and lets you know when artists you like are coming into town. The cool part is that it gets your wishlist from the songs you’ve scrobbled on (or Pandora or iTunes). I’m not trying to shill for them or anything, but I think their site is awesome.

    thither – 6 July, 05:42
  40. thither
    6 July, 05:45

    Oh, and there’s another site which is also operating in this space – I haven’t used them very much, personally.

    thither – 6 July, 05:45
  41. joebrown
    23 July, 13:04

    The event tracker was great for watching any new about live earth!! really helped me get back in tune with the artists’ major hits!!1haha

    joebrown – 23 July, 13:04
  42. Catherine
    10 August, 14:54

    “1. Please can I have a widget of “My events” both future and past. Primarily I want a HTML one, but a Facebook one would be nice too.”

    I second that.

    Catherine – 10 August, 14:54

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