GigFunder is a crowd-sourcing web service, similar to say KickStarter for example, that helps bands raise money to tour in the cities where their fans want to see them. While given today’s internet capabilities, including social networks, bands can gather fans from all over the planet, and unless they have labels and agents (and something even if they do), don’t have money to tour. GigFunder steps in to collaborate between artists and fans to find out where their fans want to see them and generate funds to bring the artist there. We chatted with founder Matt Pearson to further learn what GigFunder is all about. Check out what GigFunder has to offer on their website and follow them via Facebook and Twitter.
How did the idea of GigFunder come about?
Basically, I was playing around with different ways to get bands more money and help them make a sustainable living earlier in their careers. I was working with another music startup part-time at the time, and this idea came out of connections and conversations I made while working there.
It seemed like all the music startups at the time were offering services that helped bands fund albums or raise money (like Kickstarter or PledgeMusic), music discovery services (Spotify or Turntable.fm), or companies that help with distribution (Bandcamp, Tunecore, etc). There are a lot of great companies offering these things already. Touring support for smaller bands was something nobody had tackled yet, so it was a much more interesting problem to me.
Tell us a bit of how GigFunder works and how it differs from say KickStarter.
GigFunder currently offers two ways to help bands get on the road:
1. Fan-Driven Tours: This is the real value add we provide that allows fans to start campaigns to bring bands to different cities. Bands are taken through the tour setup process and have the option of flying or what kind of car or van they want to rent if they need one. We tap into Hotwire to get accurate rental rates for everyone and the gas money is based on the mileage between the two cities. Then, they have a choice of what class of hotel they want (if they want one), the cost per person for food, and any other miscellaneous expenses. They can also add in a guarantee or minimum profit per show. When fans create campaigns, the costs are calculated based on the distance and driving days between the band’s city and the city of the campaigns.
An important consideration for artists here is whether to drive or fly. If an artist is a one-man singer-songwriter, then flying will be cheaper for many cities (especially the farther away they get), because they only need one hotel night and gas adds up a lot over the miles if they are driving. If they have more members, then driving may make more sense, even for long distances.
2. Fixed Tours: This allows the artist to raise money for specific cities. The amount that needs to be raised is set by the artist and is split between all pledgers in all cities.
The biggest difference between GigFunder and other crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter, is the fan-driven tours. Funding goals are created for individual cities, so the amounts to be raised aren’t necessarily known in advance. The amount are determined based on the band’s inputs and the distance between the cities. It gives fans a much larger say and potentially the opportunity to see their favorite bands in towns they rarely tour to.
How have the bands and artists been making out thus far, especially with the Fan-Driven Tour option?
The bands that have done the best are the ones that have promoted their GigFunder tour on their website, their email list, and through social media. Also, having a video, especially a custom video, has dramatically improved the number of pledgers, even for bands that have pretty small fan bases. There are a few campaigns that I’m pretty sure will be funded by the end of the month based on daily averages so far, but these are all bands that have been actively promoting the site to their fans and they have videos.
Of the bands we have on the site now, some may have approached it thinking it would bring in new fans and haven’t promoted their tour to their current fans. GigFunder isn’t a music discovery service. It’s a way to help the passionate fans bring the band to their town and hopefully promote the band to new fans in those locations in the process.
Aside from providing a method to generate funding, does GigFunder assist with anything else such as promotion or booking?
We do promote your tour on the website and through our own social media networks, but there’s no good substitute for getting your fans involved in the process.
Currently, it’s still up to the band to contact venues and book shows, but having presold tickets (and the money for those tickets) helps prove the band’s audience exists in those cities, can provide a better, more accurate estimation of minimum headcount, and reduces the risk for the venues and the fans. There’s a lot more power in the negotiation with the venues when you have a guaranteed audience and the money to back it up.
How long and how much effort did it take to transform the idea into fully functioning website?
We really started pulling things together and getting things moving in August 2011. So from idea to launch it took about 10 months.
GigFunder is open to not only bands but any entertainer or speaker looking to travel correct?
Correct. We’re open to any traveling performer joining the site.
Are there any other features or developments on the horizon or will GigFunder remain how it is for some time?
Over the weekend, we integrated Twitter better with the site, so it’s now easier to Tweet out your support for bands and request artists. We have a lot of stuff in the pipeline, including the ability to search for artists on the browse page and filter by genre, allowing bands to select ‘flying’ if a campaign is greater than a certain distance away, allowing campaigns to be ‘smarter’ by adjusting the costs down for other campaigns if nearby ones have funded. We are working to improve the site as quickly as possible!
Back to how it all works… Say for example, a band creates a tour, it is funded successfully, the band prepares the tour… but then the band’s van breaks down, band loses a member or disbands, or simply takes the money and doesn’t go anywhere. Does GigFunder have a method to prevent this or is it on the honor system?
The band is responsible for making it to the gig. If they don’t make it, it’s the band’s responsibility to reimburse the fans with the campaign funds or make it up to them by rescheduling the show. Shit will definitely happen, but it’s in the band’s best interest to keep their fans happy.
Legally speaking, the band is responsible to reimbursing the fans if something like this comes up. GigFunder actually never touches the money from the fans. The bands are on the site to sell tickets to their shows and other merch and it’s their responsibility to make sure that they follow through with delivering what they promise.
The band or artist has 30 days to raise funding with one campaign allowed at a time, successful or not, could the band launch another campaign immediately after to raise more funds to add additional dates or to attempt initial funding again?
There is one campaign allowed per city at a time. Bands can allow however many campaigns they want to be funding at a time. And if one campaign ends for a certain city, there is nothing stopping anyone from creating a new campaign for that city when it ends as long as it falls within the band’s pre-set timeframe of allowing fans to create campaigns.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Matt. Any last comments you would like to add?
The only thing I would add is that it’s important to point out that right now, we are open only to US-based artists (avoiding Visa issues).
Also, if you’re a fan, you can request your favorite artist right from the homepage of the site. You’ll get an email when they join. It’s really easy to request artists. That’s all I can think of for now. Let me know if I can answer anything else!