a Kickstarter for individual shows

Bring the Gig:

So, this is basically the same thing that Kim Boekbinder did last year but they're trying to build their own Kickstarter-like infrastructure around it.

The new kink here is that if the show reaches a funding goal then the people who pre-bought tickets get their money back and see the show for free, but people who buy tickets after the goal was reached have to pay. (Which can't work, see below.)

It's an interesting idea, but they have done exactly one show so far so take it with a huge grain of salt.

Fans fund goals by purchasing BringTickets before an event's deadline expires. When an event is funded the "Gig is On" and standard Box Office Tickets start to sell. If funding falls short then all funding participants receive a full refund.

Reward: If Box Office Ticket sales reach the magic number, BringTicket purchasers get their money back and go to the concert for free.

What happens after the goal is reached?

After the goal is reached we start selling Box Office Tickets just like any show does. If Box Office Ticket sales reach the magic number all BringTicket purchasers for the event go for free.

What happens if we reach the goal but no Box Office Tickets sell?

Then the fans who funded the show get an exclusive show and have already paid for their tickets.

How do you set the goal amount (How is the cost of the show determined)?

Bring the Gig negotiates and confirms pricing with artists, venues, security, event staff, lighting, sound, insurance and everything else needed to produce a show. We total all these expenses and use that total as the goal amount.

Yeah, this part cannot possibly fly. They can't do that and still get any venues to sign on. Taking the risk of putting on the show for free exactly reduces the problem to that of booking an unknown band with an unknown draw: in other words it obviates the need for schemes like BringTheTicket. The only way this can work is for the sales goal to be that the non-refundable sales exceed the costs, ignoring the refunds.

The goal of services like this is to convince the venue that the show will do well. If you are an established act with history in town, you don't have to do that, the numbers already tell the story. A service like this is for bands that the venues know nothing about: it's a way to eliminate risk. But instead they've just gone and put the risk back in.

Without eliminating that risk, you might as well just be using one of the many gig-matchmaking services like SonicBids who take a cut off the top.

Why don't you accept pledges instead of charging at the time of check-out?

Because pledges are not guaranteed funds, pledges increase the risk for everyone involved, including the fans buying tickets. Also, by offering the potential reward of attending a show for free it opens up too many potential loopholes for abuse.

I think what they just said here is, "Obviously Kickstarter has been a mammoth failure, so we don't want to follow them into the grave." Oh wait, I got that wrong, actually what it says is, "We can't figure out how to do that so we're gonna just lie about it."

Previously, previously.

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15 Responses:

  1. CTD says:

    It looks like the threshold to put the gig on and the "magic number" are different. Like in this story, they're requiring 160 tickets sold in order for the initial 40 funders to go free: http://www.techdirt.com/blog/?company=songkick

    If the funders' money is only returned after the gig, this could work.

  2. Big says:

    FWIW, there's some weasel-wording going on in this bit: "and confirms pricing with artists, venues, security, event staff, lighting, sound, insurance and everything else needed to produce a show".

    That could mean "If the box office sells enough tickets to pay as much money as the artists/venue/security/event/lighting/sound/insurance/Bring-the-gig's-drinking-buddies all ask for, only _then_ do we let the pre-paid fans in for free."

    Hell, I suspect DNA Lounge would be very happy with just what they make over the bar, if this could ensure no free tickets were given away until the box office covered the music and security part of the event costs not including bar staff, right? It'd probably be better for you to have 200 box-office-paying punters and another 150 paid-up-front-but-given-free-entry-anyway drinkers. (I wonder what your cut of the door is, after expenses, compared to your average bar turnover profit-per-customer?)

    In one sense, I'd like to see this be worked out properly and succeed. If for no other reason than it's promoting to people who're proving they're prepared to spend money. It means you'll have customers show up who've already paid $20 and possibly had it refunded. They're a much better qualified recipient of a free ticket than people who'll _only_ go to shows when they get free entry, possibly without even being prepared (or able) to spend as much as a bar tip.

    • jwz says:

      But is it promoting to people who are proving they're willing to spend money? Because the proposition they're making is, "if you loan me $10 each, I'll give you the money back in a little while and maybe you get to see a show for free." At no point are you out your $10 (only the interest on it or whatever).

      In the general case, having people in the room drinking is great, and might justify reduced or free entry, depending on costs. However in this case I suspect the people in question would end up being Groupon-trained cheapskates who will not part with their cold hard cash under any circumstances, and the bar would do very poorly.

      • gse says:

        Does that matter much if the "magic number" includes enough paid attendees over again? Take the above example - if 200 paid people is enough to make the show worthwhile, great, there's 200 paid. The 150 freebies are gravy and hopefully buy a few drinks (and shirts/records).

        Anyway, it seems like the magic number thing is the key to making it all (hypothetically) work. You're still giving back ~half of your door money, which smarts, but maybe that's worth it for a show you wouldn't have booked otherwise.

      • Big says:

        Like CDT says, I think there's a high likelihood that the "funders" end up paying for a ticket.

        Pulling some numbers out of a hat for example, lets say the "costs" (including whatever minimum profit the various interested parties require) are determined at $3k, the "magic number" at $4k and the tickets are priced at $20. When there's only 25 "funders" - that's not enough to put the show on and the funders get their money back and the show doesn't happen. If there's 150 funders, they all get charged their $20 and the show is on and box office sales open. At this stage there's a guaranteed $3k in cash. If the box office sells another 100 tickets, there's 250 paid up tickets and $5k in revenue and the funders are still paying to get in. It's only when the box office has sold 200 tickets (and taken the $4k required to hit the magic number) that we give the "funders" their money back and let them in for free. That means box office ticket sales between 200 and 349 tickets mean less revenue than 199 tickets, but it still represents between 350 and 499 drink-buying-punters in the room. If that's how it works, it's probably a win.

        Having said that, since we're speculating and possibly disagreeing on how this works, it's clear that the exact mechanism hasn't been made clear enough, and no doubt the idea will be deluged with chargebacks and people with wildly unrealistic expectations - much like Kickstarter found and have spent the last few months changing things to make it more obvious that your pledge is _not_ a "purchase", and you shouldn't expect a refund when a funded project fails and doesn't manage to deliver their proposed rewards. I now eagerly await jzw's first rant about some idiot Bring the gig user who thinks his $20 ticket pre-payment means he has a god given right to dictate terms to both the artist and the venue… "I'm an _investor_ damnit! I've got _rights! I _insist_ you serve PBR on tap!"

        • jwz says:

          Who knows.

          It sounds to me like "goal amount" and "magic number" and "costs" are the same thing.

          If they're not, then these people don't know how to put together words in English.

          • Big says:

            Yeah, you're probably right. I suspect I'm making my usual mistake of assuming people are not stupid and have a fucking clue, then attempting to attribute to them a practical business model based on their half-assed description of their shitty idea...

            (I keep forgetting I shouldn't do that without a signed consulting rate agreement…)

            • CTD says:

              My guess is that the numbers are intentionally kept fuzzy. My guess is that their ideas about whether to fool people about whether something is free will not survive many encounters with the market.

              But I don't think the idea is shitty. It should result in good bands having fewer, better-attended shows and bad bands having fewer shows.

          • Nick Lamb says:

            I already know I'm going to pay a price for this, but really? It sounds that way even though the FAQ you quoted calls out very different consequences for the "goal amount" being raised versus the "magic number" of regular box office tickets sold?

            If Box Office Ticket sales reach the magic number all BringTicket purchasers for the event go for free.


            ... if we reach the goal but no Box Office Tickets sell? Then the fans who funded the show get an exclusive show and have already paid for their tickets.

            It's really obvious to me (and I'm not the one who has sunk piles of cash into this industry...) that in practice what happens here is that the most dedicated fans take on the risk, they may end up paying a lot of money to see a gig that a few other people see for much less. Obviously no-one at Bring The Gig wants to emphasise this part because it may sting a bit. There may be fifty people at a gig, of which 48 paid a lot of money to make the gig happen and two just bought tickets on a whim at the last minute. Yeah, that might make the forty-eight feel a bit stupid. But if they're real fans the feeling will subside when the band come on stage.

  3. Matt Adair says:

    Every time I see something like this I start wondering why they don't have a successful current/former venue owner on staff or involved in the project to point out these things in the planning phase. It seems like that would be the only possible way to make something that would actually, you know, appeal to the people they really have to sell this shit to to truly make it a viable service.

    • Big says:

      You seem to mis-understand the valley.

      "Something like this" needs 1) a couple of still-in-college "co founders" (with business cards saying "CEO" and "CTO") 2) an upgrade for both their MacBook Airs (can't possibly do this without retina displays!), 3) a slapped together rails-on-heroku or node.js-on-ec2 web app (SSL? Password security? Not in our MVP, we've got that in the roadmap after our b-round!), and most importantly 4) a YC pitch deck.

      Subject matter experts? We're "lean", our angel funding (read "credit card limit and next years tuition") doesn't cover that. Unless you'll do it for equity, we'll look into that once we get traction.

  4. Nick Lamb says:

    I think you've misapprehended both the general idea and the specifics, which from anyone else would just cause me to assume you were a moron and stop reading altogether.

    Say it costs a million drogna to put on a show. The idea here seems to be that we say, OK, if we can find twenty massive fans who'll pay fifty thousand drogna each just to have this happen then we will do it. If you only find ten people, too bad, show never happens. The moment you find those twenty people, the show is a break-even. I know you have put on shows that were nowhere close to break-even, so don't pretend venues would turn that down. Fixed costs don't go away if you're dark on a Thursday night. At that point those twenty fans are still paying fifty thousand drogna up front but they definitely will get a show (subject to the usual vagaries of live music).

    Now, we have our million drogna and we are definitely putting on a show. The venue is committed, the band are coming, it's real. At that point we offer tickets with a normal price. Maybe these tickets are just ten thousand drogna each. At that price people who need somewhere to take a date and liked one song by the band may be tempted. Fans who never heard about the original deal, or were too late applying, are definitely in. Maybe we sell a further 115 tickets this way. We've more than covered the cost of the entire gig again and now we can afford to refund the original twenty people to thank them. We've gone from "I don't think we can afford to hold a gig there" to "It was a massive success and we even made a little bit of money" without any individual (and particularly the band themselves) putting that million drogna on the line.

    The people behind the idea obviously expect that a lot of the proposed gigs will just never happen, and a bunch more will hit the threshold for the gig to happen but come nowhere close to paying back the original "sponsors". If it works, and sometimes the sponsors get their money back, that's massive free publicity. But fans who think of this as "a way to get free tickets to gigs" are going to be very disappointed. Which is fine, because that's not what it is, any more than Kickstarter is "a way to get free products".

  5. This sounds like Tugg for concerts but without the strange refund gimmick.

  6. Cow says:

    There's one other thing here I don't get. I wouldn't pre-pay to attend an event unless I knew where and when it would be--what if it's a night I'm not available or at a venue I don't like/can't reach by transit/whatever?

    So I could be wrong, but wouldn't they also need to find venues that would let them book a night on zero deposit in the off-chance that the promoters' panhandling works out?

  7. It's like Kickstarted-except without all the things that actually work!

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