Web based communication tools are becoming so powerful for bands that fans can now deeply get involved in their careers (fans’ is a superfluous term in the current web environment – ‘community’ is maybe more appropriate). This ‘penetration’ in the intricacies of a band’s work ethics can have many upsides for those willing to play the social game (the major downside being the time consuming social tasks themselves that can easily become overwhelming).
One singer/songwriter I have encountered embraces this social game with great ease. This highly skilled player is no other than Ben Walker who in a couple of short years has managed to gain a significant reputation on the web by impressively manipulating these social-tools (Ben is well known for the Twitter Song you might have already heard, for his ihatemornings.com website, and surely for a multitude of other things).
Ben is launching a new project for 2009 called Ben’s Big Gig, a gig who’s concept is to outsource (or like Ben calls it, crowdsource) as many logistical tasks as possible (on Twitter he’s currently asking the community if he should crowdsource the press release:). As of now, the gig is scheduled for Friday May 1rst in Oxford.
Cabaret 2.0 is the terrible name I’m using for a gig I’m playing in Oxford on May 1st. It’s going to have lots of live connections to and from the internet with video, Twitter, photos etc. It’s a gig for normal non-techy people that uses loads of bleeding edge social media stuff. But the most interesting part from my end is that I’m trying to crowdsource all the planning and promotion. We just got stuff set up this week, but follow @bensbiggig (the gig’s twitter profile> or bensbiggig.tumblr.com to see how it goes.
Ben says he plans on organizing the gig in a theater:
There are many benefits of presenting this gig at a theater (rather than a rock venue or a bar). We can lay the place out how we like (probably cabaret-style tables and chairs at the front and seats around the back and balcony). We get access to the venue’s promotion and ticketing systems (the gig will appear in all the local listings without our help, and we can pre-sell tickets through the existing theater booking system). We can also do something crazy, like add another night, quite easily if it sells out. So if we know loads of people are going to come and make it a great night, we’ll expand to fit that space.
Here is the pitch he sent to venues announcing the event:
I wrote a lot of songs in 2008, and involved myself deeply in the exciting world of Social Media technologies (the descendants of Facebook and Myspace). I now have hundreds of ‘followers’ and ‘fans’ and ‘friends’ all over the internet and I’m exploring new ways for musicians to interact with such a disparate community.
There is already a growing House Concert movement which shifts the responsibility for organisation gigs to the fans and lets bands and musicians tour without all the usual expenses. That’s a lot of fun, and I’ve been playing quite a few house concerts over the past couple of years. But I’m thinking of something a little grander, which I’m calling Cabaret 2.0 (for want of a better term ;o).
I’m going to put on a concert in March/April that uses all the latest internet technologies to add an extra level of magic to a classic cabaret-style performance.
I’ll play 15 or so of my songs with my band, some of which will have video, crowd interaction, improvisation and guest musicians. The evening will be compèred by somebody great (probably a poet friend of mine), and there will be other non-musical acts (poetry, comedy and maybe some acrobatics). The whole thing will be streamed live on the internet using two or three cameras and recorded for release as an online album. We will also have screens in the venue which will allow people from elsewhere on the internet to write messages, post videos, and otherwise take part. The audience will also have the chance to record short video clips for instant upload and write messages live onto the website.
It sounds complicated but is quite easy to achieve using current web technologies (Twitter, UStream, 12seconds, etc.). People have done this sort of thing with technology conferences and events, but this would be the first musical event to be so connected and integrated with the internet. I’m sure you can imagine why I’m excited…
So, in the spirit of social frenziness this seems like a great idea, and I’m pretty curious to know how it’s all going to play out. 2009 is going to be a year filled with crowdsourcing experiences and projects like Ben’s Big Gig are of the first breed. If you want to be a part of it and help out, follow-up on the gig’s progress via:
@bensbiggig (Big Gig’s twitter profile)
@ihatemornings (Ben’s twitter profile)
bensbiggig.tumblr.com (the Big Gig’s website)