At a time when artists make precious little from selling albums and singles, touring has become more essential than ever. But if a band plays Peoria, Ill., and five people show up, that's money spent, not earned. In 2016, help arrived in the form of three tour-optimizing startups -- Fanbassador, RoadNation and Show4Me -- that utilize crowdfunding strategies to steer live acts to markets where ticket demand is greatest.
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PITTING CITY VS. CITY Buffalo, N.Y.-based Fanbassador orchestrates ticket presale contests between two secondary markets. Whichever town sells the most tickets fastest gets the show.
EARLY ADOPTERS We the Kings, Youth in Revolt
WHAT'S AHEAD "We'd love to announce a tour in which the first 30 cities that fund shows will be where the artist plays," says CEO Chris Ring.
CROWDFUNDED GIGS RoadNation provides working capital for indie tours. Artists choose a region; fans pick preferred stops and contribute monetary support toward them (ticket not included). Larger contributions come with VIP perks.
EARLY ADOPTERS Halo Circus, Fox Stevenson
WHAT'S AHEAD Head of business development Theodore May says a round of seed funding is in process.
PREPAID TO PLAY London-based Show4Me is a no-risk platform for promoters and artists that offers discounted presale tickets. When a gig hits its projected break-even point, ticket prices rise. Those that don't are canceled, and no one is charged.
EARLY ADOPTERS Young Human, Dos Floris
WHAT'S AHEAD Growth, with more than $500,000 in funding, says CEO Karen Chiftalaryan.
This article originally appeared in the March 18 issue of Billboard.