February 24, 2003

"The Battle of the Fans" Works!

Paul McCartney was in town over the weekend, because someone paid him $1 million to play at a private birthday party in Rancho Santa Fe. Here's the story from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

This is another instance of if you pay them, they will come. There is a business opportunity, a la eBay Meets MP3.com, for a BAND-ON-DEMAND service, where communities or individuals compete and outbid each other for private (or public) performances by their favorite artists. Not just music, either. Perhaps there's a city where the readers of some novelist or journalist are sufficiently organized (smart mobs?) to cough up the dough to invite their author to come to town for a reading and signing.

I used to talk about this idea years ago while at MP3. We envisioned cities duking it out with each other: Peoria's bid $78,000 for a reunion concert of Jethro Tull at a high school... oh wait.... now Fairbanks, Alaska's bid $95,000 for Steely Dan... San Diego's bid $210,000 for... and so on. Now, play-for-hire has been going on forever, even Mozart got by as a commissioned artist, but where's the service that leverages the Internet and the Network Effect and gets this going on a large scale?

Imagine: you go to WeWant.com (don't bother; someone's already grabbed it) and type in the name of the performer, writer, artist, lecturer, politician, statesman, whatever, that you are interested in. You then see a list of the places this person or band has been to recently, and how much those places paid to have that name appear there. There'd be an option to see a list of all the people that people in your own geographical area have expressed interest in "commissioning" to appear locally. This is eBay meets MeetUp meets GeoURL meets...

Think about it: you're a washed-up Woodstock musician whose days of touring are long gone, and you get an email from WeWant.com indicating there are 7,801 people in West Fon-du-Loc, Wisconsin who will pay you $4,307.19 to fly to their town and perform at the local five-and-dime. Hell yeah you're gonna go! Or you're a reclusive novelist who hasn't written a new book in 20 years and never ever does book tours, but then you get an invitation to speak at some community college that has coughed up $10,000 for you to speak. Hell yeah you're gonna go!

By the way, McCartney donated the $1 million to charity. Posted by brian at February 24, 2003 03:40 AM

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