Live Tweet: StageIt Insider’s View at Belmont University

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear Evan Lowenstein speak at Belmont University. You may know him as part of Evan and Jaron, the duo who sang that middle-school earworm “Crazy For This Girl,” (warning for gratuitous use of angsty Dawson’s Creek clips) but he actually came to campus to talk about StageIt, his online concert platform.

If you’re unfamiliar with StageIt, the basic premise is this: an artist schedules a live webcam show; fans buy “notes,” which they then use to buy tickets (10 notes = 1 ticket); and then everyone sits down at their computers to get down to business. Each show consists of a private “room,” complete with a stream of the artist’s webcam and a chat window that allows fans to talk with each other and request songs. (Bonus: if they like what they see, fans can donate more notes through a virtual tip jar!)

There are obvious advantages to StageIt. First, unlike services like Ustream or YouTube, StageIt has a built-in revenue system. The StageIt shows that I’ve attended have typically been $7 or $8, only slightly more expensive than a house show and much less expensive than going to a venue. On top of that, the atmosphere lends itself to tipping. You’re getting a psuedo-personal experience with the artist, during which you get to interact with them fairly well. Plus everyone in the room is a supportive fan. I wasn’t surprised to learn that…

(Though I was surprised to learn that…)

In all fairness, Pomplamoose is a “YouTube” band (warning for gratuitous use of pop covers) whose fanbase is pretty used to watching them on the internet and they probably don’t tour as much as most bands. Nonetheless, we can identify some more advantages here. With StageIt, you’re taking home 60% of your night’s work immediately. More importantly, the platform isn’t limited by distance. You don’t have to worry about how far you can afford to travel or how long you can be away from home and fans (especially those outside of your touring range) don’t have to wait until next time. StageIt lets you can reach each of your fans at once– and if you have a decent-sized fanbase that you can get at least $6 from, per person, you’ll be racking up the cash pretty fast. Especially if you, like Pomplamoose, throw monthly StageIt shows. See, the thing about this platform is…

Knowing how to manage supply and demand is one of the most important things that anyone in the music industry can learn. People don’t like to spend money on music. When they do reach into their wallets, it’s often because they don’t want to miss a short-term opportunity: a concert, a preorder package, a limited-edition version of a physical album. If you miss a StageIt show, you miss a StageIt show; there’s no crawling the internet for a recording. If you miss a preorder, you miss a preorder; there’s no more buying crazy colored vinyl.

The other reason StageIt doesn’t archive videos is because…

Fair enough. (If you don’t see a difference, please name a song by Gotye that isn’t “Somebody That I Used To Know,” a song by PSY that isn’t “Gangnam Style,” and a song by Y.N. Rich Kids that isn’t “Hot Cheetos and Takis.”)

Evan touched on his views of the future of the music industry…

…but also said that anyone who claimed to know what the future holds for the music business is a liar who cannot be trusted, so he spent more time giving advice to new bands instead.

Those parting words are perhaps the most important thing that Evan said yesterday morning. I am a big advocate in going the extra mile for your fans because the smallest gesture from you means the world to them. I will hit this idea a lot more in future posts because I honestly feel that a healthy music industry is dependent on a healthy relationship between artists and fans. StageIt has definitely shown that they’re willing to take care of both artists and fans– and I believe that mindfulness is what’s going to set them apart in the future.

If you’ve used StageIt before (or prefer another platform!) let me know in the comments. What do you like about it? What could be better? Has the internet finally “stolen” live performance?

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3 comments

  1. I’m watching the music video for “Crazy for this Girl” after just having spoken to him about two hours ago, and it’s the funniest thing ever.
    In the Americana panel today, which he was a part of, Evan and an artist on the panel mentioned a few times the idea of retaining some “mystique” about an artist. The artist, Matthew Perryman Jones, said that he almost wishes he could recreate that old-school feeling when you didn’t know much about the artist.
    I AM IN THE OPPOSITE SCHOOL OF THOUGHT.
    Okay, if you don’t want to let your fans know your bladder schedule, that’s fine and probably appreciated. However, I think the “mystique” approach is extremely dangerous in today’s market in which the consumer can choose an artist who is more willing to interact.
    Posting on Facebook about what you’re doing in the studio is not interaction. That was my major problem with the social media panel I attended today. Stop teaching people how to use Facebook. Anyone who is going to matter in the entertainment industry already knows how to use Facebook. Use social media to show people that you’re a PERSON.
    One speaker said, “Make sure that every post is fulfilling a purpose and has a target.”
    NO.
    As a consumer, I find that the things that I remember about artists who Tweet are the silly little things like, “Ohmygosh my hair smells like apples. Seriously, guys. I want to eat my hair.”
    That was completely fabricated, but that kind of thing is the idea. Now, I not only understand more about the artist’s personality, I also have the intimate knowledge of what their hair smells like today. Maybe 1 million other followers know too, but the point is that that sort of knowledge would have been impossible ten years ago. I, as a consumer, feel more special to that artist for having been shown that little glimpse.
    If you’re mysterious, fans are going to jump on the “next big thing” bandwagon. Your fame will most likely be fleeting. Someone will come on the scene who is cuter, younger, more charismatic, and your fans will move on from you because they never had that deep connection with you.
    FRIEND lasts longer than FAN.
    So kids, don’t just tell me about your music. I can listen to your music. Tell me about that rad sandwich you had yesterday.

  2. I was wondering why Evan was in Nashville, but when I remembered that the Americana Music Fest had a social media panel and it all made sense.

    I think having a mystique in “today’s world” can still work. The best example that comes to mind is Frank Ocean. He and his team are super strict about what pictures can be taken of him, they don’t let most people do interviews, he runs all of his social media and keeps it pretty esoteric, etc etc. That worked out pretty well. The problem is that most people aren’t trying to be mysterious; they’re just not engaging. There’s a big difference. Frank Ocean engages, but he keeps certain things under tight lockdown. That’s the mystery.

    Every post SHOULD have a purpose, but that purpose doesn’t need to be to add another fan or sell another download. I like to think that the baseline purpose is to be funny and anything above that is a bonus. (With the exception of updates that are specifically calls to action, but those shouldn’t be the bulk of your social media updates.)

    That’s part of the success of StageIt. Yes, you’re making money from the shows. But the actual value is that you can engage with way more fans and ACTUALLY engage with them. They can ask you questions, they can request songs, they can chat with each other, they can see you react immediately… that level of conversation is what creates and maintains a dedicated fan base.

  3. […] your job is to entertain. Each update should develop your voice. Let your fans get to know you; as Evan Loewnstein of StageIt said recently, “All along, fans have wanted to be a part of the artists’ success.” If you let […]

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