Monday, March 21, 2011

Crowd Sourced Concert

This idea has been skittering around my skull for a while now. I think I've been flirting with it for years.

The idea is still a little nebulous, but it is taking shape as I'm facing the giant blank wall of booking tours. The surface of this wall is absolutely smooth, with nothing to hold onto to help the climb. It leaves me feeling stupid and ineffectual. I should know how to do this, but it's a struggle every time. How do I book the good venues, how do I get people to the shows?

And I think, "If only I had help." And people keep offering help, but not 'real' bookers, with networks and contacts for venues all over the country or world. But maybe I don't need one booker. Maybe I can have a different booker in every city. And maybe that booker can be you. Or your mom. Or your friend, Sassafras. Or all of you.

I've been doing house concerts for years and what I'm thinking of is a little bit like a house concert, in the way that the hosts are the promoters are the audience. But these could happen in all kinds of venues.

What if the concerts were crowd sourced? Maybe one person has a venue contact, someone else does great sound, your cousin likes to hang posters, your dog can interview me for the local paper.

I put on a great show, the problem here is not lack of talent or appeal, the problem is that I am only one person. And hard as it might be to admit: I can't do everything. At least, I can't do everything all at once all the time.

So what if I came up with a number? I can break it down. I can say how many people need to attend a show for me to break even.

And what if I pre-sold those tickets before I even booked the show?

It might be crazy, it might not work, but it might also be the only way I can tour. Because I am an artist, busy making the art, and managing about a million things in my career. I do it all myself: the websites, the posters, hanging the posters, the booking, the social media, the blogs. I don't know any other artists who do as much as I do alone. I know some amazing and successful artists that work very very hard. Not a single one of them works alone. And this is why: because it's impossible. It is impossible to have a successful career without help. It cannot be done. I know, because I'm here, working with every ounce of everything and not getting anywhere until someone helps. I get intermittent help here and there. Someone books a show, someone else puts up posters. Even something as simple as a retweet, or a mention in a personal blog. And then my career moves forward.

It's so simple. Help = movement. And I'm too self sufficient for my own good, too good at working by myself. Which doesn't work. Not really. I need the crowd, and not just as passive audience, I need the crowd management team, the crowd bookers, and the crowd promoters.

I've always done things differently, found a new angle, tried a new way. I pride myself on discovering new paradigms. But the truth is that while I have done things my own way I have also spent years waiting for the right person to "discover" me, to think I was worth something, to believe in me.

And what I've realized is that the right person has discovered me. The right person is you.

This post, as you have discovered, is not a finalized thought, it is just the beginning of a thought. I hope you'll join the discussion.

***Amendment!***


I realized a few things

1.) I do know someone with a successful career who does everything on their own. Jason Webley does everything on his own. But he's the only one I know who does. And I love him, but he's crazy.

2.) I do have help. I have a lovely assistant who mails things for me and really does all the things I have ever asked and does them well. My real problem is not getting help when I need it. Not knowing how to ask for help and not knowing how to let people help before it's too late.

I didn't mean to lie. Or leave anyone out.

20 comments:

  1. I think this is a great idea and it's something I would get involved with whenever I could!

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  2. The show you're booking for me in Sydney on April 21st is part of what made me think this might all be possible!

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  3. I think it's definitely an idea with potential... The only issues I could foresee are the issues that might arise from people volunteering who don't necessarily understand what's actually involved, but that shouldn't be too hard to screen out.

    I'm more than happy to help out where I can with your upcoming Sydney gig. I know you've got Karina sorting out the venue etc, but I'm happy to help out by arranging your travel to and from the airport, accommodation etc. Just let me know what you need!

    It's not quite the 'travelling from town to town on camels' idea that you and Amanda were talking about after the Sydney ninja gig, but it's excitingly close!

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  4. i like it!! i can try help when you come to melbourne, i know people who know people but i'm pretty sure the empress will have you back no problemo anyway :)

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  5. sounds a good idea but need to develop a checklist to make sure everything is covered

    I would be keen to help you to play in adelaide but of course we'd need to 'come up with a number'

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  6. I think completely crowdsourcing the concert organization can work for smaller venues, or in big cities where you have enough fans who can divide the work among themselves.

    But even for other concerts it's good to keep a 'street team' handy to help you with the fliers, the contacts, the language if you're in a foreign country, accommodations and so on. It seems to work well for Amanda, and other artists as well.

    For what it's worth, I'd be glad to help organize a concert in my little corner of Italy. ;)

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  7. I think its a great idea. I think I'm probably one of those people vtraddict mentioned - would offer with no hope of realising whats involved. The upside - I realise this and would I) happily just buy a ticket and II) would happily cook /load a car/van / do something not terribly exciting if it helped.

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  8. It surely would take an expanded network, and a set of must do things, but it surely could be doable.

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  9. I definitely think that it is a great idea, but it would definitely need checklists...maybe using something like a Google Doc form with your master checklist. That way you can create it once and use it in every city and it's also super easy to edit too.

    I think there will be some disasters but I believe there will also be lots of awesome experiences.

    I say go for it and when you come near my city I will help (where-ever that city will end up being)

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  10. We've been doing some things similar to this in Orlando, FL for a bit now... one person makes the contact, talks to a friend with a venue contact, collectively assemble some supporting acts, make & distribute flyers, do online promotion, a friend with a radio show will do an interview and/or a brief on air performance... Usually best if left to those who are musicians or otherwise a bit more involved in the local scene so that they understand the basics.

    In fact, we're working on one for Zoe in just that way as we speak! So if you're ever down our way, you're covered!

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  11. Checklists are a good idea. I can do that. I'd also need someone managing this, one key person to contact and to make sure all the things are being checked off.

    What about a small fundraiser for the shows?

    Let's say Nick wants to get me to Adelaide. Travel costs are $200, costs to put on the show are another $250. And I need to make a little bit for each show so I can live, let's say $100. So if the good people of Adelaide could put on a show for $550, could they sell enough tickets in advance to make that possible?

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  12. if anyone who reads this blog is in sydney and wants to help hang up posters for Kim's gig let me know! i am probably going to stick to the newtown/inner west area as i think that fits Kim's demographic best.

    i would love to have done a fundraiser and with the gig being a little less than a month out, if it's something we can organise i'd totally do it. i have considered selling pre-sales which i did for other show's i've put on -- will think about how to do this effectively.

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  13. @sustainable spanger -- it'd definitely take someone who knows what they are doing to manage something like this, but breaking it up into smaller tasks and giving a number of people different things to do makes it easier. so if you just offered to do SOMETHING you do know how to do that is still being a part of the whole process.

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  14. Kim - re: your comment about Jason - I'm at least 3/4 convinced he's more than one person. No one person could have that much energy and enthusiasm...

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  15. @KaH Ticket pre-sales are a great idea. The fundraiser idea is more for before the show is even booked. I've decided to come to Sydney regardless of the cost, taking a chance on it. But I can't afford to take a chance on a whole tour, hence the crowdsourced/crowdfunded concert idea.

    People are always writing to ask me when I will come to their town, and I want to be able to give them an answer. Maybe pointing them to the checklist of "How to Bring Kim Boekbinder to Your Town" is a viable option.

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  16. I think it is a good ideal because it is impossible to do it alone. As I get ready to step into the water of unleashing my art on the world I became a little stressed at all the things I have to line up, get ready, format. Suddenly i am a little mini me corporation when all I really want to do is write.

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  17. @KaH - I wasnt so much saying "you need someone who knows what they're doing" I was saying that that there are A LOT of people, some just plain dumb, most just good natured who would offer to help without realising the amount of work required.

    I'm sydney based. Happy to lend a hand but also recongnise my limitations. give me a shout superspanger at g mail dot come
    if you need an extra set of hands for the marrickville gig.

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  18. Another Nick from AdelaideMarch 24, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    It sounds like a very workable idea, if you can get the checklist right and also some guidelines, such as suggested ticket price range, and show approx running time etc.

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  19. It seems the idea of a comprehensive checklist is building steam, and I particularly like th idea of a "how to bring KB to your town" checklist. Perhaps you could break this out along the lines of venue, technical support such as sound and lighting, and logistics such as meals, accommodations and travel. I'm envisioning a website where people could "sign-up" to volunteer to provide and/or support the sound board on specific dates, for example. Also, would it be advantageous to plan for extended stays including multiple performances in each location? A community-supported tour, comprised of inexperienced volunteers with whom you have never worked, which attempts to play a different town every night sounds difficult/impossible. However, planning a tour in which you are in a town for a week and play 3 shows, for example, would allow you to oversee the work of the volunteers and correct the issues that will inevitably arise.

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