(from Billboard.biz, October 23, 2012) Andrew Bird has announced his next tour. A 12-city South American tour will be unlike any other tour of his career, but not because of the locations. Bird has partnered with U.K. based Songkick for this tour to plan and sell tickets.
Songkick will allow Andrew Bird to sell tickets before booking the venues on the tour. If a show doesn’t meet a minimum number sold, the show does not happen. This allows an artist to “test the waters” before taking on a bunch of risk. Songkick has staged 10 tours for bands with this experimental model since December 2011, mostly in Europe. They call this model Detour. Ian Hogarth, Songkick’s Chief Executive, wrote detailed case studies for two of the tours. The results of both tours were sold out shows. Hogarth credits the success to the grass-roots nature of music fans.
Live music tours over the years have become more predictable and corporate sponsored. Detour allows an act to play in a location that may have been deemed too risky previously. One fan can make play a huge role in getting their favorite act to their area. One such instance occurred when a “superfan” of the band Hot Chip sent an email to 2,000 of their friends trying to convince them to back the show by pledging to purchase a ticket. People pledge tickets by entering their credit card information, agreeing to buy the ticket if the show actually happens. Once 200 people did this for the Hot Chip show, the concert was booked. “Concerts that occur this way feel fantastic,” Hogarth told Billboard.biz, “they tend to be very authentic and intimate. The fans felt a sense of community because they felt they collectively made it happen.”
Detour continues to be in the “beta” stage, so it is not an official Songkick product widely offered. One of the tests Songkick would like to try next is bringing it to the U.S. market. This is complicated by acts having exclusive touring and ticketing contracts.