In what is likely to be a surprise to many despite the growing popularity of music crowdfunding, Songkick's CEO Ian Hogarth revealed that not only is Songkick developing a music concert fanfunding platform but has been experimenting with it since December. I spoke with Hogarth earlier this week and it turns out that he's been thinking about fanfunding at least as long as he's been building Songkick and his focus on getting the fans what they want is first and foremost.
After posting about Songkick's crowdfunding plans at Crowdfunding For Musicians from a press release that I don't think Songkick expected to see in public, Hogarth contacted me to fill me in on the backstory of Songkick's developing plans. He revealed that back in the heyday of MySpace he saw that fans were regularly asking bands when they might be in their area. But he found out from industry insiders that fan requests weren't really taken that seriously by promoters or managers.
Hogarth recognized the missing piece was a financial commitment because even knowing your fans are out there doesn't immediately translate into tour financing and still represents a risk at any point in time. But he wasn't sure that pursuing such an idea would work as well as Songkick's focus on being the largest source of music concert announcements and has focused on that path ever since.
Tycho - A Walk (Live in London at Songkick Fanfunded Show)
As he also describes today in a blog post, Songkick finally decided to leverage their access to fan and concert data that reveals what fans want and where they want it by bringing Tycho to London for his first European gig:
"This all kicked off last December, when Gideon, our design director was bemoaning the fact that a band he loved – Tycho – an awesome electronic act from San Francisco had never come to Europe. We have hundreds of thousands of fans using Songkick in London, so we looked at our trackings data – turns out there were a good number of people like Gideon who lived in London and were tracking Tycho on Songkick. We contacted Tycho’s manager and agent who said that they’d would love to come to Europe, but hadn’t heard there was enough demand. On the flip side we spoke to a local promoter who saw it as too risky to try to bring Tycho over at this stage. It seemed like a perfect test."
"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!"
Since then, Songkick has been experimenting with bands and shows to see what works best. Their current version can be found at detourjam.com and they're going with the name Detour for the service. It's not a finished product but the idea is solid and straightforward.
Fans can get to see the band they want if they're willing to provide the initial financial commitment to bring the band to their town by pledging to buy presale tickets. Truly passionate fans will be able to have an effect that wasn't possible under previous touring systems.
Hogarth made an additional discovery during the Tycho show that has been supported by observations at additional shows they've since organized:
"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."
After Tycho's concert, Songkick committed a small team to developing the Detour service and now they're ready to start opening things up.
If you're a band that wants to try out Detour, please contact Ian Hogarth at:
If you're a fan that wants to start a Detour and bring a band to your town, let Songkick know at:
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.