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A TIP FOR THE TOUR-CHALLENGED: MAYBE STAGEIT?

Like many artists dependent on touring for their livelihood, Old 97’s frontman Rhett Miller watched as the arrival of social distancing resulted in canceled dates and a negative impact on his projected earnings. Up to that point in his career, Miller never thought of himself as someone that would utilize livestreaming. However, with no other prospects on the horizon, Miller decided to give livestreaming a shot and did his first online show on Stageit.com.

Only two weeks after his first livestream, Miller is upbeat about his experience. Asked whether the money he is making livestreaming is really enough to compensate for the shortfall from his touring income, Miller goes on to say, “Right now the money I make on Stageit has exceeded what I make on the road, and not by a small margin.” 

As unique as Miller’s experience may seem, during these quarantimes his story is not an anomaly. According to Stageit founder Evan Lowenstein, in the year prior to COVID-19’s arrival, Stageit earned $500,000 in gross revenue. Fast forward to the present and Stageit has earned $500,000 in gross revenue in only the first four days of April.

“Artists are telling me how just one Stageit show is worth more than four shows on the road,” says Lowenstein, who adds that his company’s growth shows no signs of abating.

The virtual venue facilitates livestreamed performances that are akin to hanging backstage with your favorite artist, as opposed a fully produced concert experience. Shows on the platform are not archived and each act sets its own capacity. Ticket prices are also completely up to the artist’s discretion and range from a “pay what you can” option, to a fixed price that can be as low as $0.10. Fans pay in StageIt’s own currency, notes, and each note is worth $0.10.

The main revenue driver for Stageit artists is a virtual tip jar. Artists can incentivize tipping by offering unique merchandise as well as one-of-a-kind experiences such as an artist offering to shave his beard off for 10,000 notes ($1,000). Yes, that really happened.

Whether livestreaming will prove a temporary life raft or part of the new normal after the world opens back up is an open question. “Right now I think we are learning that so many of the things that we used to do, we can actually do virtually,” offers Miller. “Certainly, if the demand is anywhere near what it is now, Stageit will be a big part of what I do.”

Lowenstein echoes the sentiment. “Without question, livestreaming will remain part of the new normal,” he insists. “Artists are telling me that without even being asked.”

Now, then: What would you pay for an exclusive performance by the HITS All-Star Quarantine Kazoo Band?

 

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