Ever get the urge to take your act on the road? It's a romantic idea but the reality is that putting a tour together is hard work and the chances of netting any money off the deal are about as low as Charlie Sheen's morals.
Before you give up the touring dream completely, we want to introduce you to GigFunder, a new website that's helping bands put tours together through crowd funding. GigFunder is all about empowering bands and their fans, sort of like a KickStarter for touring.
We spoke with GigFunder's Founder Matt Pearson to get the inside scoop on this exciting service:
Can you introduce GigFunder to our audience?
Basically, GigFunder is a site that enables fans to bring artists on tour to the location of their choice. Fans can crowdfund the cost of a gig by contributing a little bit per person.
Artists can have a decent following but find it hard to book gigs in cities across the country. GigFunder allows artists to presell tickets and other merchandise so they don't have to save up for travel money and booking shows is easier because there's a proven audience. Fans get their show. Bands get to book a tour. Everyone wins!
How do you calculate how much it will cost a band to play a gig? For example, how do you decide how much it’ll take to get a band from New York to Chicago for a show? I imagine if you asked 50 bands what it would cost them to make a trip like that you’d get 50 different answers…
This is a great question and a very important thing for bands to understand when they're setting up a tour. Currently, fans have two choices for setting up a tour on GigFunder:
1. Fan-Driven Tours: This is the real value add we provide that allows fans to start campaigns to bring bands to different cities. Bands are taken through the tour setup process and have the option of flying or what kind of car or van they want to rent if they need one. We tap into Hotwire to get accurate rental rates for everyone and the gas money is based on the mileage between the two cities. Then, they have a choice of what class of hotel they want (if they want one), the cost per person for food, and any other miscellaneous expenses. They can also add in a guarantee or minimum profit per show. When fans create campaigns, the costs are calculated based on the distance and driving days between the band's city and the city of the campaigns.
An important consideration for artists here is whether to drive or fly. If an artist is a one-man singer-songwriter, then flying will be cheaper for many cities (especially the farther away they get), because they only need one hotel night and gas adds up a lot over the miles if they are driving. If they have more members, then driving may make more sense, even for long distances.
2. Fixed Tours: This allows the artist to raise money for specific cities. The amount that needs to be raised is set by the artist and is split between all pledgers in all cities.
Your ‘How It Works’ page does a great job explaining how GigFunder can help fans come together to get their favorite band to their city. At what point do venues get involved?
Bands are responsible for booking their own gigs. If a campaign for a certain city is funded, the band is responsible for making sure that it happens. This is a much better position for bands than usual though. Generally, if a band has never toured in a certain city, it can be difficult to prove that you have an audience or guarantee heads for the venue. With GigFunder, you have pre-sold a number of tickets and have already collected the money for the tickets. You can prove the minimum number of people that will be coming to the gig and even negotiate a split with money you have with pre-sold tickets. Bands are in a much stronger negotiating position for booking gigs.
There seems to be a real movement towards crowd funding in a lot of different industries. What do you attribute this to?
On a very macro level, this movement was inevitable. As people find new ways to connect with more artists, many of which aren't supported by labels, fans had to step up to support the artists they love. Patronage is a very old concept that has been supported for centuries, but this is the best time for artists to build a niche audience and make a decent living outside of the mainstream. With distribution as cheap as it is, if you have a good product that connects with people, you will find yourself in a position to engage these fans on a much deeper level than existed in the world of Top 40 radio.
Also, I have to credit Kickstarter for bringing crowdfunding to the mainstream. People are becoming more aware of this model and feel comfortable with (it). The success of Kickstarter definitely provides legitimacy, on a small level, to all crowdfunding sites because it's a model that people are becoming more and more familiar with.
If any of our bands/musicians are interested in getting involved with GigFunder, how do they get started?
All an artist needs to do is register for GigFunder and create a tour. It's ridiculously easy. A few tips for creating a successful tour:
- Consider the goal of your tour. Are you willing to play one-off shows anywhere in the country? Are you trying to tour certain cities in the Northeast? This should play into the way you communicate the tour goals with your fans and the way you build you pledge awards.
- Create a video that features your music and a call to action for fans to support your tour. The best response on the site has been for artists with cool, creative videos that highlight their music and ask fans for their support.
- Creative pledge awards - Tickets to shows, merchandise, etc. are all great and necessary for lower levels of pledging, but it's important to provide awesome opportunities to the hardcore fans. Encouraging larger pledges from your biggest fans will make booking shows much more likely.
- Promotion! You have to tell your fans about it and interact with the fans that have pledged via Facebook, Twitter, and your mailing lists. GigFunder is not a music discovery site. GigFunder makes it easy for bands to engage their fans for booking a tour. It is for artists that have fan bases that want them to tour and it's the artist's responsibility to get the word out.
Check out GigFunder today and let us know what you think!