Apps, Digital & Mobile, Events — August 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Songkick Detour brings live acts to Singapore and Jakarta, with you


You might be familiar with Songkick for being the go-to concert listings site, which ensures that you never have to experience the dreadful feeling of regret after missing a concert that happened in your vicinity, but now Songkick is turning the tables with their latest project, Songkick Detour.

Shaking up the traditional approach of event organization, Songkick Detour proposes to music lovers in Singapore and Jakarta to submit a wishlist of your dream live concert act along with a corresponding pledge for a concert ticket. In other words, both the eventual concert performer and ticket price is in YOUR hands!

We chat with Daniel Rogers, Head of Marketing from Songkick, to find out the fascinating story behind Songkick Detour, their thoughts on South-East Asian music scenes and more!

Music Weekly: Many music lovers are familiar with Songkick as a concert listings guide – what was the motivation or inspiration behind Songkick Detour?

Daniel Rogers: Songkick as a concert listings guide has really matured over the last few years. We now have over 5 million people around the world using our products every month, across a multitude of platforms from Spotify to Android. We’ve also partnered with a ton of amazing companies such as YouTube and SoundCloud, so that wherever music exists online it is accompanied by Songkick powered tour dates. There’s always more to do, but as a team we feel pretty good about where the listings side of Songkick is right now.

That led us to the question – what next? At its core Songkick ultimately cares about two things; innovation and fans. Innovation is obviously primarily tech-driven, and we consider ourselves to be primarily a tech company, but innovation isn’t only about technology. Innovation can also be around business models – such as Netflix and DVD rental, or in our case live music. So we’ve got millions of fans around the world using Songkick, and we want to do something innovative to help them, which is not necessarily limited to technology. What does that look like?

If you speak to fans outside of London, New York, and a handful of other cities, the main thing they care about is not being able to see their favourite bands. Alongside this we observed a few interesting trends in online behaviour. Firstly the proliferation of streaming and sharing music online means that bands can become popular faster, and in more unpredictable locations, than the live music industry can understand or react to. Planning a large tour can take 18 months, but some bands now blow up overnight. Secondly, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, bands have a more direct connection with fans than ever before. A good example of this is whenever a band announces tour dates on Facebook you see a stream of comments from fans asking the band to come to their town. Lastly, and more broadly, people are self-organising via the Internet at an unprecedented scale. There have been numerous examples of this over the last couple of years; Occupy Wall Street, Stop SOPA, and the Arab Spring.

So the question became – what can we do to help fans see more live music by leveraging these trends? We wanted to not just make live music more efficient, but actually increase the amount produced and consumed, essentially creating events that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. That was, and still is, our primary motivation. The first experiment we ran was driven internally by our design director, Gideon. He is a huge fan of a San-Francisco based musician and artist called Tycho, who at the time had never played London. Gideon really wanted to see Tycho live in London, and was confident that many other fans did too. The manager and agent were far less confident. So we decided to create a campaign to bring Tycho to London. If we could raise 500 pledges of £10 each, we’d bring him over and put the gig on. If we couldn’t raise the money everyone would be refunded. There was no risk for the fans or artist, some minimal risk on our part – but pretty much a win-win for all involved. When we put the campaign live it went ballistic; fans organised en-mass and promoted the campaign via Facebook, Twitter, and email. Within the first 24 hours we’d raised several hundred pledges – for a band that was unsure they could sell 100, let alone 500, tickets.


How does Songkick Detour work? How will the final acts that will be performing in Singapore and Jakarta be determined?

The main barrier to innovating in the live music industry is that it is a very relationship driven business. To make things happen you need to know people, and those people need to trust you. Over the years Songkick has built a lot of credibility, goodwill, and relationships with the industry, from concert promoters to the bands themselves. The final acts will be decided by a combination of user wishlists and bands availability. As soon as we see some clear leaders emerge, we’ll start working with the bands, agents, and managers to make it happen.


Has the Songkick Detour project been done anywhere else in the world prior to this? If so, how did it work out?

Since the initial experiment with Tycho we’ve refined and iterated the idea quite a bit – putting on over 20 shows including a full UK tour. Next we wanted to bring the model to a region where there is both a lack of live music and also a huge amount of passionate fans. Detour for Singapore and Jakarta is this latest iteration!


Songkick Detour was set up after the Songkick team had visited Singapore and Jakarta – what were your impressions of the local music scenes in South-East Asia? Why were Singapore and Jakarta specifically chosen out of other South-East Asian countries?

Indonesia and Singapore are obviously quite different countries, but Ian (Songkick’s CEO) and I were really inspired by the passion of fans in both. To an extent Western fans get spoiled by the amount of live music available; on average there are half a dozen large, and 20+ smaller, concerts every single night in London. By contrast Jakarta is lucky if it gets this many concerts in a month. As a result we felt fans were really, really, hungry for more live music. They exhibited a hunger and passion you don’t see in London and New York. We were also really impressed by the local bands we met; we managed to watch The Triangle Band in Jakarta, and also met The Trees & The Wild.

We would have liked to run Detour in additional cities in South-East Asia, but from a practical standpoint we can’t run more than a couple at once. Hopefully we’ll be able to launch it in places such as Kuala Lumpur soon.


How long will the Songkick Detour project be running and when can music-lovers in Singapore and Jakarta expect the actual concerts to take place?

The short answer is – stay tuned! We expect to keep this project running for a few more weeks, then the concerts to take place a month or two after that.


Check out the following video of Tycho’s live performance, brought to you by Songkick Detour!