May 18, 2003

Pitching Battle-of-the-Fans to Tim Draper

VC Tim Draper seems to be seriously considering the pitches over at AlwaysOn so what the heck, time to pitch this thing I've wanted to do for ages: Battle of the Fans.

Tim, here's a pitch:

Something I've been thinking about for years: an eBay-meets-Meetup-meets-MP3.com idea. A new twist on "music-on-demand." Remove middlemen from the concert scene equation, empower fans by enabling them to BID on their favorite artist/performer/band, COMMISSIONING them to appear at their local HS gym, town square, playhouse, concert hall, park, destination resort, whatever. Imagine: a "battle of the FANS" where towns can duke it out with each other racing to get the highest bid for a performer.

Idea: integrate with Apple's iTunes Music Store, and you could not only BUY THE SONG, but BID ON THE BAND: an upsell oppty where users buy the song then get asked if they'd like to "demand" that this artist play live in their town. When demand reaches critical mass then each user gets is charged a fee (a FRACTION of a Ticketmaster ticket price since much of the mktg & promo costs removed) and the concert goes on!

Artists could register w/ service & indicate their minimum commission rate & geographical restrictions. Some artists would probably be willing to accept very low numbers (the "I'll play in your living room for $800 with 25 of your closest friends" kind of artist) while others might need 250 people paying $200 each before they'd agree to do play a private venue or charity event.

Ideal service for fans of both new, struggling bands as well as washed-up/retired types (say, burnouts from 60s/70s). Fans would "bid" for their favorite performer to come out of retirement and come play in their town. Heck, entire TOURS could be automatically generated this way, and artists would have a new way of reaching their fans, and getting paid directly, etc. (Who needs record companies? They're so... 20th century :)

Extend the service to all kinds of other "by-popular-demand" events:

  • Book buyers want their favorite author to come to THEIR town. So they group together, each pledging some $, and collectively they make it worth the author's while to come to their town and speak/sign books/sell books. Again, entire book TOURS could be automatically generated this way --- and the book publishers, notoriously cheap for sending authors out on the road, wouldn't be involved at all. Money goes direct to authors; huge incentive for them to participate. Everyone wins.

  • School district gets 10,000 students to invite the governor, CEO, celebrity, astronaut, war hero, or some other dignitary, to come and speak in their town. Maybe everyone submits 50 cents or a dollar, and suddenly they have enough to pay for a nationally-known speaker to come to their town and speak.

  • Customers of a business could group together and pay a company to fix a bug, add a new feature, extend their customer support, etc. Kind of like a pre-emptive tip-jar: we'll tip you if you do this for us. Great potential with open-source projects.

  • Film buffs group together and BID on rare films to be shown at great theatres. For instance, I wanna see a 70mm restored print of Lawrence of Arabia. I don't want to wait 5 more years for it to go on the road again, and I don't want to fly to NYC to see it 6 months from now when it makes a rare appearance. So I use this service to find others interested in LOA and we collectively get enough people to DEMAND that the studio release a print to a designated theatre, and everyone wins: guaranteed audience, payment up front, happy film buffs.

A service like this could ONLY exist using the Internet. This kind of thing is GOING to happen, it's inevitable. Let's do it!

So, that's what I pitched to Tim. Let's see what he has to say.

I wrote about the Battle of the Fans idea back in February in this blog. I referenced a case in point where Paul McCartney performed live for some millionaire woman's birthday party in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. Patrick Moraz was doing this back in the mid '90s: a genuine for-$800-I'll-do-a-concert-in-your-living-room gig. Not sure if he's still doing that. Posted by brian at May 18, 2003 12:13 PM

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