500 True Fans. How Tycho’s fans crowdfunded his first European show
Songkick got started with a series of over-excited emails between Pete, Michelle and I. The thing we got most excited about was the idea that many of our friends would go to more gigs if we just made it easier for them. We’ve spent the past 5 years obsessed with that idea and it seems to be working. Fans go to twice as many shows after using Songkick and over 6 millions fans use our apps every month on web & mobile.
But there was another idea we discussed as we were founding Songkick. Similar to most music fans in 2007 we spent a ton of time on MySpace, browsing around discovering bands and finding new loves. We’d all seen the huge volume of comments on any artist’s MySpace page telling them to come to London, or Stockholm, or Bloomington Indiana. We had this idea: what if those fans could put some kind of financial commitment up – would the bands come?
We’ve always believed they might, and this year we’ve started to prove to ourselves that they will. I’ve been really stunned by what we’ve seen and I want to start sharing what we’ve learned over a series of experiments.
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! Wow.
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.
We got really excited after this gig and a small ‘special ops’ team in Songkick has been testing the idea further all year. I’ll share the next experiment we did with you later this week…
Meanwhile if you’re a band who would like to try a Detour, hit me up at ianATsongkick, or if you’re a fan and want to start a Detour to bring one of your favourite bands to your city, please let us know.