In one sense, the word art refers to a finely honed skill. Chefs are culinary artists; Karate experts are martial artists. I can see how a Watermelon Swan could blur the line between form and function; Is it food, Sculpture, or both? I can also see how the graceful moves of Brazilian Capoeira are more like dancing than fighting.
Music is a performing art. Live performance is arguably the most important part of an artist or band’s career. Yet, so many musicians resist getting out and gigging for all kinds of reasons. The gigs don’t pay enough, no one shows up, the crowd is a drag or they have been there, done that. Gigging is like brushing your teeth. You have to keep doing it for it to be effective, and there will never come a time when it isn’t necessary. Unless…all your teeth fall out because you never brushed them! You can lose your your fans the same way, by neglecting them and not giving them TLC. I harp on it all the time; at no point in your career will you be so successful that you can say, “I’ve made it now, think I’ll lie down and take a nap.” The work just gets tougher, so hang on.
But what if you could put your band in your living room, go through a 30-40 minute show and make a couple thousand bucks? Even a couple hundred would be a win right? Well, you can. For the last year I have been singing the praises of online streaming platforms like Stageit for artists to engage their fans from around the world. It is one of the coolest online opportunities out there and it works. Think about it; you are online every day trying to get your fans to pay attention to all your song and video posts and you are constantly grasping for something new to get their attention. Why not give them an intimate performance that they can enjoy from home in their PJ’s? Man, what a concept. I love this platform. There are so many bands that I’m dying to see but I can’t travel 3,000 miles to hear them. Maybe I am working that night and only have time for a short break, or maybe I have the flu and can’t get out of bed. Or maybe I live in the US and they are in Germany. With a Stageit show it doesn’t matter; I can lie in bed and watch a kick ass performance by my favorite band! Every time I see a cool band doing an online streaming show, I get amped.
So why aren’t more independent artists using the platform? Great question. The smart ones are – believe me. I’ve heard all the excuses from the naysayers…I won’t be able to promote it enough to make money, Stageit takes too much of a percentage, I don’t know how to figure out the feed. Really? All of you are recording on your laptops and have figured out sonar or pro tools, so gimme a break! As far as the percentage Stageit takes, who cares? What are you making now doing nothing, hmm? 100% 0f zero is zero!
Bloomberg News says:
While most shows are just a singer with an acoustic guitar in front of a laptop, Lowenstein has signed up a few bigger names, including Jackson Browne, Indigo Girls, and Jason Mraz. Stageit handles billing, ensures that there’s enough bandwidth, and includes a chat feature so fans can ask questions or request songs. There’s a “tip jar” so listeners can give more money if they want, and Stageit takes 40 percent of sales (yes, including the tips, which Lowenstein says account for nearly half of Stageit’s revenue). While many people have come to expect music to be free, Lowenstein says, they will pay to see live performances. “You can’t pirate intimacy,” he says, “and you can’t pirate an experience.”
Glen Phillips, former singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket, compares the idea with striptease sites, “but instead of clothes coming off, [viewers] get to see somebody play music.” Phillips, who has been doing weekly shows on Stageit, says he’d need millions of plays on Spotify or other streaming music services to match the $800 a week he can make from Lowenstein’s site. Bob Schneider, a singer-songwriter in Austin, Tex., says he made about $1,200 from a recent Stageit show, which is helping fund a new album. “You have no expenses doing the Stageit shows in your living room,” he says.
The tipping component of Stageit is brilliant and I have witnessed it first hand many times. Fans can tip throughout the show and trust me it’s impossible to not get caught up in the excitement and blow lots of cash. You can give away merch, CD’s or whatever else to the top tippers to really get people going, and like a silent auction everyone tries to out tip each other to be in the top three. The other awesome thing is that no one knows how much is being tipped. You only see that the three top tippers who are highlighted have given the most money. I was watching one of my own artists at a show and started tipping like a mad fool. I couldn’t help myself, it was a blast! This platform also gives you the opportunity to talk to your fans about whatever you like, show gratitude, take requests, promote your music and make new fans. It has a feed like twitter that runs throughout the show so you can stop and give props and answer questions. Put a street team-er on the feed to spike the tip jar from the beginning of the show. If you choose to do the gig from a club, get the sound man to help you get everything set up properly. Stageit gives you a sound check the day of the show so you can make sure everything is running smoothly. Many friends of mine have used Stageit and have averaged 2k a show. One secret is to run a contest or a special promotion a couple weeks prior to the show to reignite complacent fans. Then you’ve got them and can promote to your hearts content.
Stageit CEO Evan Lowenstein was recently quoted in an article released on Billboard:
Although acts can sell tickets to their shows, the real revenue comes from tips – which, in the case of YouTube singer Christina Grimmie’s recent show, made up $21,000 of her $30,000 revenue from a 30-minute set. Artists make an average of $13.40 per fan per show, with 59% of that coming from their virtual tip jar. It’s not about streaming concerts from venues like this, but streaming from moments – our artists call it downtime.
I work with many artists who have very large fan bases (AKA mailing lists) of upwards of 20,000+. If you can’t get a few hundred of them to attend an online streaming show, you are doing something wrong. Either your music sucks or you aren’t giving your fans enough love. Sorry, but it’s true. At some point you have to look at yourself and stop blaming the internet, booking agents, club owners, band members, and your momma. So if your music doesn’t suck and your fans think you are wonderful, what’s the problem? Get out there, make some music and make some money. All the World’s a Stage and you need to be on it.