Songkick Plans To Book World’s Biggest Crowdfunded Tour

Posted October 23

It happens every day: A band posts their newest touring schedule to Facebook and two second later, BAM, the torrent begins: “Come to Boston!” “Come to Toyko!” “Come to Nowheresville, USA!” Most of the time, those pleas go unanswered. How is a band to know if they’ll have a substantial enough audience in Nowheresville? Will they make any cash playing there? That’s where Detour comes in.

Detour is a new initiative from concert-planning platform Songkick that allows bands to organize crowdfunded concerts in the cities where fans want to see them the most. Basically, the whole deal works a lot like a Kickstarter campaign: Fans commit to buying a ticket in advance and rally their friends to follow their lead. If enough people pledge to buy a ticket, the show goes on. If not, no money changes hands.

“I remember growing up in London and there were all these bands I wanted to see and my friends wanted to see them, too. But they never came. I think the traditional model was failing us as fans,” says Ian Hogarth, explaining the idea behind Detour. “Fans who really love an artist will do more than just leave a Facebook comment. That’s the heart of this.”

Songkick has already thrown several successful shows using Detour with bands like Hot Chip, Tycho, Tom Williams and the Boat, Motion City Soundtrack, and Slow Club. Some bands used the service to book shows in uncharted territories (Tycho visited Europe for the first time), others to fill in gaps on their tours (Hot Chip played a tiny town in England). All, however, were brought to cities through sheer fan frenzy.

Hogarth says that a lot of times Songkick user data is useful in predicting where fans will rally the hardest, but sometimes the passion of super fans has surprised him.

“With Hot Chip, fans were calling up local radio stations and trying to get the news to the people on the radio,” he says. “One fan emailed 2,000 people that he knew to see if anyone else wanted to make a Hot Chip show happen. It’s those kinds of examples of real fans that you can’t predict. I think that’s one of the most exciting things about the Internet right now.”

As a result, the crowdfunded shows are often intimate, social experiences. “I think the reason [Detour shows are] so amazing is because the fans feel this sense of ownership in the show,” Hogarth says. “They feel like they made it happen…. It almost feels like everybody knows each other beforehand.”

For Detour’s next effort — with Andrew Bird — Songkick is going all out, hoping to set a record for the largest crowdfunded tour. Bird will be playing South America (where he is extremely popular), hitting 9 countries and 12 cities. Detour hopes to book 6 crowdfunded stops along the way.

“We can see that Andrew Bird in Latin America is a really natural fit for this from our data,” Hogarth says of the artist choice. “But more importantly, he’s a great artist with avid fans and we really hit it off with his team.”

Right now, Detour is limited to artists chosen by Songkick, but, in the future, the platform could very well open up to other bands as well.

The Power of Fans

As the pundits continuously talk about how the music industry is crumbling into the sea, the world has been looking for a savior. Someone to put money in the pockets of bands and ensure that a steady stream of quality tunes keeps issuing from our respective music players. Of late — given the advent of social media and the Web — our collective gaze has been focused more and more on the fan.

Detour is far from the first concert crowdfunding platform on the scene — there’s the recently launched Get Booked, as well as Kickstarter for concerts QUEREMOS, to name a few. And, when it comes to crowdfunded record labels and successful Kickstarter/PledgeMusic/Indiegogo campaigns — the list is seemingly endless.

So far, platforms and campaigns like this have had some success, but the question — in the longrun — still remains: Do the fans care enough to sustain (or even replace) an industry?

What do you think?

Image courtesy of Flickr, schizoform