My kids watching The Dollyrots’ StageIt Show

Evan Lowenstein noticed that the music industry had changed, and for musicians, that wasn’t a good thing. “It caused our industry to go from hundreds of artists making millions of dollars, to millions of artists making hundreds of dollars.” In fact, for a solo artist to just make minimum wage these days, they would have to have people download 12,399 songs, per month, from iTunes or Amazon, or their song would have to stream over 4 million times a month on Spotify to make the minimum wage threshold. (See the Information is Beautiful breakout, also see today’s report in The Atlantic which counters this somewhat.) Remember, those numbers are for solo artists, multi-member bands have to make three, or more times that to break the minimum wage barrier.

So, what should artists and bands do? Tour? Yes. Sell merch online? Yes. Run promotions on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or PledgeMusic? Yes. All of those make money, much more than the traditional selling of songs and albums does, but they are also very demanding and are either one-off type projects, or extremely expensive. Lowenstein has come up with an online alternative to touring, and you may see your favorite bands performing for you, right from their living rooms.

Lowenstein created the online concert platform called Stageit. The idea is pretty simple. Your favorite musicians perform live, usually from their own homes, and sell tickets to the show, usually at a “name your own price” amount. So, you can watch a live performance and pay 10¢ (if you’re a total cheapskate.) Most fans pay between $1 and $10, depending upon their own financial situation, and how much they like the band. In addition to the ticket sales, which the bands keep 60% of the sales, you can also “tip” the performers during the show. The tips go directly to the artists, and usually the artists will put an incentive for ‘big tippers’ by giving away some merch or singing a special song for the top tippers during the show.

During the show, you get to have an online chat with the band and they see your comments as you post them. Last month, I watched my favorite band, The Dollyrots, perform from Kelly Ogden’s living room couch, and I streamed the show directly to my big screen TV using the HDMI cable on my PC. As you can see from the picture above, my kids also joined in on the fun. What you didn’t see was them asking me to type in requests for the next song throughout the show. We enjoyed the show, it was cheap, it was intimate, and the band made a decent amount of money right from their own living room.

The Internet has been a double-edge sword for the music industry. It has allowed many bands that would never have made it under the old model to find a following around the world. However, it has become a driver in pushing musicians’ wages down. New resources, like Stageit, are helping reshape the way musicians can reach fans, and make money at the same time. If you’re looking for a Stageit show to attend in the next couple of weeks, I have a suggestion for you. Another one of the LA Pop-Punk Girl Bands that I like, Go Betty Go, is having a Stageit show on March 10th. If that’s not your type of music, then go search Stageit and search around. Even popular bands and artists are finding it to be a great way to reach out to fans, and make some money at the same time.