Live-music discovery site Songkick is rolling out a new platform, Detour, that will allow fans who want a band to come to their town to put their money where their "online commenter" mouth is.
Launched in 2007, London-based Songkick provides personalized news about live music events, allowing fans to track groups and receive email alerts when a band they like is playing nearby.
The Detour concept essentially boils down to fans pledging to buy tickets before a show is confirmed, potentially lessening the possibility of a band playing to sparse crowds, mitigating risk for promoters and venues.
Songkick test-marketed Detour in 2012, and is now scaling out the model in London this year, with visions of going global. With the growth of fan-driven investment platforms like Kickstarter, and people becoming more familiar with putting money down in advance for things, Songkick thought it was a good time to see if the idea might actually might work. In 2012 it created a campaign to bring electronic artist Tycho to London for the first time. And it worked.
This year, Songkick is opening up the platform in London, and will roll out other markets on a global basis, using its considerable reach to drive awareness. CEO Ian Hogarth says, "The difference [with Detour] is, instead of saying, 'Tell us which bands you want to see live,' we're saying, 'Tell us which bands you love so much you'll put up money right now to have them come to your city.'"
In terms of commitment, fans pay the full ticket price in advance, based on what the act would normally command at the box office. "The people that have been the most excited...are promoters and venues."
The success of Detour depends on two things: applying it to markets where it's needed, especially to bring in up-and-coming acts outside the realm of artist-development cash flow, and the buy-in of booking agencies. In basic terms, Detour is similar to Eventful, the site where fans "demand" for an artist to come to their city, with the notable exception being that on Detour they back up that demand with cash.
The model helps mitigate risk for talent buyers, but the band has to actually get to town in the first place. So, the question becomes, Does it route? This is where agents come into play. Many clubs in prime markets have full schedules with multiple holds, while other, off-the-beaten-path venues need shows. If demand is shown in a given market, and ticket sales are waiting, a band-one that would need such a service-rarely can afford to do a one-off; it needs to be on tour and get from Point A to Point B in an affordable manner. Maybe the Detour-backed date is Point C and everyone wins.