Let’s Do The Show Right Here: Crowdfunding Site Targets Concert Promoters

By Trevor Clawson for Forbes

The onward march of digital technology hasn’t been altogether kind to those seeking to eke out a living within the music industry. Admittedly, relatively easy access to the big online streaming and download platforms has made it possible for just about anyone to distribute music nationally and internationally, a development that’s worth at least two cheers.

But as patterns of online music consumption move inexorably away from downloads and towards streaming, musicians who might once have expected several pounds or dollars for each album sale must now be content with micro-payments for every play. Not only is it harder for all but the most successful artists to get a decent return on their recording investment, the streaming revolution has arguably also removed the sense that songs and albums have an intrinsic value. The result has been a renewed focus on concerts as a source of income.

So three cheers then for a new crowdfunding site that aims to make it just a bit easier for musicians and promoters to make a profit from live performance like at Nashville live music venues.

Headquartered in London with a development operation in Ukraine, Show4me has adapted the now familiar principles of  crowdfunding to the specific requirements of concert promotion.


The idea is simple. Under normal circumstances, a concert promoter hires a venue, pays an advance deposit to secure the required date and then sets about the process of marketing and selling tickets.

And in many cases its a high risk business. Shows are promoted on the expectation that a particular act will prove a big enough draw to fill the venue, cover costs, pay the band and generate a profit. But it doesn’t always work out like that. If the choice of concert venue is over ambitious, or if ticket prices are set too high, than sales won’t cover the venue costs and the promoter takes a hit.  This is not only bad for the promoter’s bank balance but also a blow to the ego of musicians who find themselves playing to empty seats.

 So Show4Me works like this. A promoter proposes that a band will play at a certain venue within a designated timeframe – say early march – and then invites fans to pledge ticket money. When the pledges hit a level which will allow the promoter to at least break even the date and venue is confirmed and booked. However, at this point  the crowdfunding campaign continues.  With the venue costs paid for, the second half of the campaign takes the event into profit.

An International Platform

Show4me founder Karen Chiftalaryan came up with the idea for the company when still working in the banking industry. “A promoter came to me and asked if the bank could invest in his concert business. I had to say no . A few months later I had a conversation about crowdfunding. I looked at the market and found there was no dedicated platform for concert promotion. ”

That was two and a half years ago. Since then, Chiftalaryan has assembled a group of employees and partners from diverse backgrounds to develop the project. “My background is in banking,” he says. “And we also have developers, designers, marketers and lawyers on the team,” he says.

Charging a fee based on 6% of money raised, Show4Me is targeting not only professional promoters who need to shift several thousand tickets but also bands hoping to fill small venues of maybe one or two hundred seats.

Like all crowdfunding projects, it’s a business model that not only requires the company to gain traction with promoters and musicians but also with those who will be parting with their hard-earned cash – namely the fans. Thus promoters will still have to work hard to market their concerts to attract sufficient pledges to trigger a green light.

Achieving Scale

And it’s early days. The site’s website currently displays a mix of fully-funded and part funded campaigns and about 150 fans a day are using the site to pledge cash.

Show4Me’s challenge now is to achieve scale in the market. Chiftalaryan believes the business is well placed to do so, not least because the site operates internationally and the payment systems in place to enable cash to be transferred  across borders to most countries. Meanwhile, it is working in key markets such as the UK and US to establish partnerships with local promoters and ticket sellers.

In the age of streaming, live performance is become the prime source of income for many musicians but making money from live shows is in itself not always easy. Crowdfunding is already an established means to raise funds and pre-market indie CDs. By tailoring its offer to the realities of booking a concert hall, Show4me make live performance more lucrative for gigging musicians.

First appeared in Forbes