Foo Fighters' Crowdsourced Concert Make Fan-Funded Shows Seem Like the Way Forward
Every major music fan knows all too well the anxiety of scanning your favorite band's upcoming tour roster and praying they've scheduled a stop even remotely near your town. Sure, you could always make a roadtrip of it, but that requires time off work and even more cash expended beyond the likely exorbitant ticket prices; for my part, I am exaggerating exactly none in confessing that a primary reason I moved to New York City was its status as a reliable concert hub, especially for international acts (hi, Die Antwoord — see you in September). So I can only imagine the wild, unadulterated victory dance that erupted in the hearts (and, I'd like to think, the streets) of Richmond, Virginia when 515 eager residents successfully crowdsourced enough money to lure the Foo Fighters to their hometown, securing the band's first appearance there since 1998.
The campaign, orchestrated through Crowdtilt Open by freelance creative director/copywriter Andrew Goldin, asked backers to pay $50 each for their hypothetical ticket, promising not to actually charge the fee until the concert was a sold-out go-ahead. With help from local businesses like Sugar Shack Donuts and Brown's Volkswagen, who bought 100 tickets apiece for later giveaway, Goldin & Co. met their $70,000 goal (with $26 to spare!) — and, most importantly, got the attention of the band, who appear equally stoked:
In fact, in an interview with South Africa's 5FM radio station, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl expressed his support for the overall concept, speculating on whether this fan-driven booking method might be increasingly popularized in the Age of Social Media:
I'm telling you, it could become the way that bands decide where they want to play. It's a fun thing; it sort of changes the game. For the past 20 years we always decided who we're going to play with and where we're going to play. But now, if we hear that people want us to come somewhere, maybe we'll come there.
It's an exciting idea, to be sure — a truly democratic booking system that puts the power in the hands of the consumer, as opposed to the awkward network of musical middlemen (agents, venue reps, band managers, Ticketmaster, et al.). Virginia is for Foo Fighters? Cool. Another state not so much? Leave it. Everyone is happy, from rabid fans to bands' egos, and we all get to rock out in celebration.
Still, as with any great innovation, there are some pitfalls to consider — perhaps the most pressing being, though this crowdsourcing scheme seems like a cool idea for already established acts, how are lesser-known bands meant to tap into national fanbases they have yet to establish? Even for musicians with a strong local following who are looking to branch out, simply asking, "Hey other city, who wants to pay $50 apiece to have us in your town?" seems a little crazy. Sure, the cost per person may well be lower, as there'd be no need to sell out a stadium to cover the booking fee — but without any real prior exposure, who's going to back a campaign based on a wing, a prayer, and a Bandcamp demo? Not Sugar Shack Donuts, I'd wager.