Songkick today announced the official launch of Detour, which it has been successfully trialing in a small invite-only beta until now. At risk of over simplifying, the basic concept of Detour is enabling fans to help artists decide where to gig by pledging in advance for concert tickets, much in the same way PledgeMusic works but for live. In the trial 1,000 fans made 10 concerts happen in London (you can read Songkick’s Ian Hogarth’s blog here).
I am a big fan of Songkick and the company is one of a relatively small number of digital music start ups that are genuinely changing some of the fundamentals of the music industry. With Detour, Songkick is harnessing the power of its highly engaged music fan audience and using it to deliver real value back into the business.
Obviously it is still early days and Detour is still currently focused on London, but crowd funding of concerts is an area with growing momentum with specialist sites like Gigfunder and Queremos! all growing this emerging marketplace. Crowd funding concerts is a very natural next step from crowd funding albums and EPs. For middle ranking artists who aren’t big enough to be on a big label but are bigger than the amateur and semi-pro tiers of artists, tools like Songkick Detour and PledgeMusic are increasingly important. They empower artists to build sustainable careers, making the most of scarce resources and squeezing out every last drop of their potential.
But perhaps most importantly of all these tools strengthen the bond between fans and artists. Something that is inherently less easy for a superstar artist to do. Sure the likes of Lady Gaga do a fantastic job of making their global fan bases feel close, but that proximity can never be as genuine as a band whose just come to London to play a gig off the back of 80 dedicated fans pledging their support and hard earned cash. So the long-term outlook becomes one of increasing divergence between the aristocracy of the superstar artists and the middle class of hard working, hard gigging artists. Think of it as a democratization of music, with the intimacy of the artist-fan relationship the currency of success and authenticity.
Detour has got a long way to go, but that is only because it has so much potential. Now the fun really starts.