Songkick Helps Fans Bring Their Favorite Musician To London

from the working-the-other-way-around dept

When we talk about alternative business models for music, one that always is discussed is live performances. Like it or not, this is a very big (and growing at a rapid rate) part of the market. We've never argued that live performance is the only alternative business model (though some pretend we've said that), but it's hard to deny that it is an area of opportunity for many artists. Now, many people -- quite rightly -- point out that the aggregate data on touring doesn't tell the whole story. Big acts with massive tours can take in lots and lots of money, while it can be quite difficult for acts that don't have that level of support. We've heard the story plenty of times of bands going on tour in a crappy old van, only to show up in places and play for 5 people who don't care, having spent much more on gas to get to the venue than they make from the door. This absolutely happens. And it sucks for bands. But there's no reason that needs to happen.

We've talked about alternative ways of touring, and even how artists like Jonathan Coulton used tools like Eventful to have fans prove there was enough demand at a location before he'd perform there. We've also talked about how there were a growing number of tools that can make touring/live efforts more effective and less likely to lose money. And one of those tools is Songkick, which already helps alert people to concerts they may be interested in, with evidence that services like that, alone, help drive more people to shows. But now Songkick is expanding even more, with a new effort called Detour -- which has some similarities with Eventful. Songkick talks about how they were able to "crowdfund" getting musician Tycho from his home in San Francisco to London for the first time to perform, by gathering up a ton of his fans to prove that there was demand.

Tycho's manager had been worried about doing any sort of European tour, because it's expensive to get there, and if the fanbase wasn't there, you're making a huge bet. Enter Songkick Detour:
We chatted to Tycho and his team and it seemed like they’d need to sell a few hundred tickets to make it feasible to come to London, so we created a simple website, Detour to allow Tycho fans to pledge. What happened next was pretty insane! We emailed the fans on Songkick who were tracking Tycho, and over 100 of them pledged money for a ticket. Gideon was pretty thrilled to see how many other people shared his passion for Tycho. But 100 or so wasn’t enough to get the show confirmed so the Songkickers took it into their own hands & started to contact friends and music fans who were either into Tycho or should be! Within a short while we hit our target and the gig was on! Wow.
Boom. But it didn't end there. As Ian Hogarth notes in the post, because the show was crowdfunded, it also changed the nature of it. Just as we've seen with other crowdfunding efforts, it gives supporters some sort of effective feeling of ownership and thus making the event successful isn't just about going to a cool show, but about really being a part of a success story. And that can take things to another level:
To be honest at that point I didn’t think things could get much cooler. To see fans rise up to help their favourite artist go and tour in a new country was overwhelming. The sense of community and excitement was really special. But then I went to the concert itself and realised the real power of this concept. Everyone at that show was there because they made the gig happen and the atmosphere reflected that. It was beyond intimate and the connection between the band and the fans that started online carried into the gig itself. One of the fans that came made this lovely video of the show and you can get a feel for how special the atmosphere was. Tycho was so appreciative of the fans that made it happen, and brought over some beautiful signed posters for the event which he gave to some of the first fans who pledged.
No one has ever claimed that there's a magic bullet for success in the music business (or any business). But the status quo does not need to be the way things stay. There are all sorts of opportunities to make live music better, more efficient and more enjoyable for everyone. And it seems like this little effort from Songkick is a nice step in that direction.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2012 @ 9:38pm

    It's cool, but really, not much beyond that. They could have easily booked the artist, booked the venue, and sold the tickets - and maybe even made a profit. There really isn't any magic here, except that it was done as a commune collective way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 4th, 2012 @ 10:06pm

    Re:

    That is all you can say to try and belittle the achievement noted here? That?

    Did you completely miss the part that such an event would not have happened if they'd done it the way you suggest, because of the 'maybe' bit?

    Knowing ahead of time that enough people will show up to make it worth the travel is an enormous boost to a band, allowing them to remove almost all the risk of touring in an a 'maybe' area. This in turn will allow them to do more tours, and make more money, which is nothing but good for band, the venues that host them, and the fans.

    I suppose the parasites, who get most of 'their' cut out of recordings, rather than touring, will suffer from a system like this, but I think, if I try really hard, I'll be able to live with that.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2012 @ 10:19pm

    Re: Re:

    "That is all you can say to try and belittle the achievement noted here? That?"

    It's not to belittle it. It's more that the way it's described is like a little child trying to describe an elephant. For the rest of us, we just say "elephant".

    "Did you completely miss the part that such an event would not have happened if they'd done it the way you suggest, because of the 'maybe' bit? "

    Actually, it's telling here: Nobody wants to risk the capital. It sums up very well what label money has done in the past, and with new indie acts, isn't happening now.

    There is this amazing system in existance called concert promoters. They take the risk, they book the acts, they book the venues, and they profit when it works.

    "I suppose the parasites, who get most of 'their' cut out of recordings, rather than touring, will suffer from a system like this, but I think, if I try really hard, I'll be able to live with that."

    No, actually the ones who suffer from this in the end are the fans and the bands themselves, because the burden is shifted to the fans themselves. The artist cannot go where they don't have pre-paying fans, and the fans have to put up all the money for one off events.

    It's not very logical, it's a poor use of resource, and basically doesn't accomplish much.

    The same artist would have done better on a small Euro tour, perhaps a couple of nights in London, one further north away from the city, perhaps a few smaller shows in venues in Europe, with the big travel expenses and such spread over all of those events. Risk? Yup. reward? Very possible.

    Making the fans front the cash sounds nice. It's just not a very plausible system to do touring in the end.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Oct 5th, 2012 @ 1:06am

    Re: Re: Re: LOL So thats what its like to live on Mt. Bullshit

    "Actually, it's telling here: Nobody wants to risk the capital. It sums up very well what label money has done in the past, and with new indie acts, isn't happening now.

    There is this amazing system in existence called concert promoters. They take the risk, they book the acts, they book the venues, and they profit when it works."


    Let's jump right in and tear this apart properly. First of all you ignore the fact that this is a huge accomplishment for a small band that no label would take seriously. This story is about the next generation of artists that would not have stood a chance under the older "amazing" system. Yes there are concert promoters who have to be paid in advance by the band, could this band afford to hire promoters to do a UK tour of one venue? Is there a concert promoter who would promote a single venue UK tour for a crowd of hundreds?

    Then you wrap it all up by saying that the same band would be better off doing a small tour, adding expenses and going in blind with no idea if there are enough fans or where they are. Risky? Very Reward? Very Unlikely. See how that works? I make the opposite conclusion you made and it is just as likely to be correct. You seem to think guessing is efficient business.

    You seem to think the notion of pre-paying is new. That is pretty much how all shows work. People hear who is coming and pay in advance, especially if its not general admission.

    The AMAZING thing about the old system is that it is designed to siphon as much money as possible from the artist that has generated all the fans who want to pay.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Oct 5th, 2012 @ 6:30am

    Maybe not new, but well-done

    As the story notes, Tycho's real fear over the cash outlay was the inability to gauge the fans' response... to predict revenue. That's a story as old as performing itself, and while crowdfunding is a new twist, it's hard to believe that would work in a majority of cases. The Irish singer/songwriter Luka Bloom actually does something similar for American trips... except that the crowdfunding is substituted with a bunch of low-expense, high(er) revenue home concerts -- where fans pay that extra amount, over and above the typical ticket, that they might have sent for airfare. Crowdfunding airfare is innovative, but it's hardly amazing... wait... where my shift key... AMAZING.


    The real story here, and why Mike no doubt highlighted it, is CwF. Big as life. Can't make better connections than these, whether donated airfare or a face-to-face home concert; and that's the way today's artist really thrives.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2012 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: LOL So thats what its like to live on Mt. Bullshit

    "First of all you ignore the fact that this is a huge accomplishment for a small band that no label would take seriously. "

    No, I don't belittle it. I am just saying it's actually a pretty normal thing that has happened for a long time, except with a slightly different order. The issue here is that nobody is willing to take a risk on the band, nobody wants to finance it, even the band doesn't want to take a risk - or can't get backers to help them.

    "Then you wrap it all up by saying that the same band would be better off doing a small tour, adding expenses and going in blind with no idea if there are enough fans or where they are. Risky? Very Reward? Very Unlikely."

    it's what concert promoters do. They work to come up with ways for artists of all size to tour, in manageable levels of risk.

    I would say that you don't really have a clue on this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2012 @ 1:36am

    how does this 'new' scheme (scam) attract new fans ?

    starting out bands do not go on tour for their 'existing' fans, they generally go on tour to collect MORE fans and people willing to pay money to purchase and listen to them.

    it's advertising, a company is waisting money advertising to customers they allready have.. you advertise to attract new customers.. no to placate you existing ones.. sure you have to provide for your existing customers as well (or risk losing them) but a business (or band) has to attact new customers and some customers stay and some will go..

    putting that burden and risk onto your existing customers seems to be an unsustainable model. as the first time it fails the people who are going to lose are you existing customers, and as you are not seeking new customers, you will not hold your existing customers for very long, if they are burned and are asked to take on the risk of the expenses involved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 6th, 2012 @ 1:36am

    how does this 'new' scheme (scam) attract new fans ?

    starting out bands do not go on tour for their 'existing' fans, they generally go on tour to collect MORE fans and people willing to pay money to purchase and listen to them.

    it's advertising, a company is waisting money advertising to customers they allready have.. you advertise to attract new customers.. no to placate you existing ones.. sure you have to provide for your existing customers as well (or risk losing them) but a business (or band) has to attact new customers and some customers stay and some will go..

    putting that burden and risk onto your existing customers seems to be an unsustainable model. as the first time it fails the people who are going to lose are you existing customers, and as you are not seeking new customers, you will not hold your existing customers for very long, if they are burned and are asked to take on the risk of the expenses involved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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