A recent conference in Virginia celebrated events in small cities and enters a new term into the ticketing industry zeitgeist: "guerrilla venues". We look at the message the conference has for event promoters and independent musicians as well as how it relates to established venues looking to expand their bookings.
As described by Wikipedia the zeitgeist is an intellectual school of thought which typifies and influences the culture of a period usually shared among many in a unifying group or collective. We at ThunderTix pay close attention to upcoming trends in the event industry and in this post we share what we feel is a new and noteworthy addition to the ticketing industry zeitgeist.
Music In A Small City
The CityWorks (X)po was recently held in Roanoke, Virginia and is a multi-disciplinary idea exchange and festival conference. According to the website (X)po is a small cities conference celebrating the people and projects that have exponential impact:
(X)po is a collaborative, co-creative, and multi-disciplinary idea exchange and festival conference. By day attendees will be immersed in thought provoking presentations, riveting performances and engaging dialogue. By night the conference continues with networking opportunities at amazing parties, street fests, and spectacular live music.
As part of the conference promotion, (X)po made a video entitled 'Music in a Small City'. The video (below) is the celebration of music in small cities, which describes exactly what (X)po wants to achieve in the area of live music entertainment.
Do It From Anywhere
Respected music industry professional Bruce Houghton, known for his influential website Hypebot, appears in the 'Small Cities' video. He states clearly that the era of musicians having to live in a major metropolitan area in order to be discovered is no longer the case. Houghton describes the phenomenon:
It used to matter where musicians were. It used to matter because you wanted a record deal, you wanted to get on the radio. Now it is about building a fan base via social media and building a live touring base and you can that do from anywhere now.
We couldn't agree more and we have written extensively in the past on how bands and event organizers can harness the power of the web to increase event awareness. After the Houghton says "where" no longer matters, the video goes on to suggest that performances no longer need to be booked into traditional venues.
Also featured in the video are promoters Frances and Lee West. The Wests talk about how they sometimes stage performances at "guerrilla venues" in their local area..
It is a lot more work to set up a venue like that. But it allows you to work in spaces that are different and unique. With a guerrilla venue you don't have to do it on a regular basis. It's a cool thing. A great gathering. Then it disappears...the next day, people walk by and never know there was a big event there.
To an independent musician or event promoter, the idea of making (legal) use of unusual venues, where one would normally not expect to find a live performance, has merit. Reduced costs and lower overhead immediately come to mind, not to mention the "newness" and novelty for patrons.
As mentioned in the video, the power of social media to bring about event awareness is a big part of events at guerrilla venues. But social media and word of mouth, in and of themselves, may not be enough for a successful event.
Scrappy event promoters, along with legions of musicians and bands, have used ad hoc guerrilla marketing since the dawn of Rock & Roll (paper flyers, attention getting "stunts", social media, etc.) But having a safe (and profitable) event at a "guerrilla venue" still requires non-ad hoc planning and organization.
One of the best practices used by big formal events also applies to those taking place at guerrilla venues: Easy to use online ticketing software. Selling tickets on the web is an innate part of any event taking place at a guerrilla venue because, by definition, a non-traditional venue will have no walk-up box office.
Our commitment to providing ticketing software for events includes the longtail of independent musicians and live music event promoters.
ThunderTix has several tools that make distributing tickets for events at so-called guerrilla venues easy to do. We offer a virtual box office, where a band can sell tickets to a guerrilla venue show as well as t-shirts and CDs. Most popular with band and burgeoning event promoters are our nightly deposits, making the sales dollars available immediately with no week long wait for funds to clear. Even if the event is free, bands will want the contact information gathered for their mailing lists. All ThunderTix accounts offer reporting and exportable contact information.
What do you think? Are use of guerrilla venues the logical outcome of musicians no longer needing to live in big cities? Do small town really offer as much in the way of places to perform as the big cities do? Let us know in the comments below!