The dilemma: I need to play live to have a real connection to an audience but the expense of touring is debilitating.
My solution: Pre-sell the shows before they are even booked. Get the fans as invested as I am in the creation of the art. [...]
There is no "Making It" or rather, this is making it. Right here, where I am, with my small but dedicated fan base holding me aloft while I drift through the detritus of an imploding music industry that never did a thing for me yet still manages to get in my way. I'm a modern musician with modern tools trying to navigate an old broken system; a system which declared that all musicians must work for free until picked up by a record label which would either make or destroy them; a system which drove a wedge between fans and their music, musicians and their audiences; a system that forgot that the entire reason it existed was to facilitate the experience of art.
This kind of thing works out nicely from the venue's point of view, too. The absolute hardest thing about booking live music is knowing whether anyone's going to show up. Without a reasonable guess as to how many people will show, both the performer and the venue are risking a lot of money.
"Make an educated guess about how many people will show, for this band you've never heard of in a genre you're only passingly familiar with" is pretty much the entire job of a venue's booker (or "talent buyer"). It's a black art. Anything that takes the guesswork out of that is better for everyone.
Update: Her update.