How Songkick is doing a “Detour”

I’m a big fan of Songkick, a London-based company that enables users to track live shows of their favourite artists. Songkick was founded in 2007 by three friends who felt that finding out when your favourite artist was coming to town could be made a lot easier. Songkick enables users to track their favourite artists and will automatically send an alert once an artist or a band announces a show in your area (see Fig. 1 for a screenshot of my personal artist tracker on Songkick).

Co-founder Ian Hogarth recently referred to Songkick  as “the second most visited ticket site after Ticketmaster” in a recent “Tech Weekly” podcast by the Guardian. Songkick have received backing from well-known venture capitalists like Index Ventures and, recently, Sequoia Capital. Apart from capturing already scheduled concerts, Songkick has now also started crowd funding concerts. This recent initiative is called “Detour” (see Fig. 2 below) and is based on the idea of fans paying upfront for a gig by an artist or band that they really want to see.

  1. Will fans use Detour to get Nicki Minaj to come and perform? – Can you imagine how many fans one would have to gather and how much money one would have to pledge to get Nicki Minaj to come and play in, let’s say, Huddersfield!? That’s not what Detour is for, it helps to bring those artists who otherwise might not come. Songkick’s Detour kicked off with a campaign to get Tycho, a small electro band from San Francisco, to come to Europe. Tycho had never played in Europe before and this is how the Detour initiative came about.
  2. Fans make it happen – To gage interest in bringing Tycho to these shores, the guys at Songkick started emailing those Songkick users who track Tycho’s live shows through Songkick. Over 100 of these users pledged money for a ticket. Since that number still didn’t make it viable for Tycho to come over, the Songkick users started contacting their friends to get them to pledge too. Soon enough a sufficient number of people had pledged money to buy a ticket, which made it feasible for Tycho to come over and do a show in London.
  3. Can make Songkick make a lot of money out of Detour? I’m not sure whether Songkick will be able to make a lot of money out of Detour (and I’m not sure whether that’s the goal), but it can nevertheless become a self-sustainable revenue stream where Songkick perhaps take a fee to recoup its operational cost and the transaction fee which normally would go to ticketing giants like Live Nation or Seatwave.
  4. Where does the (user) value come from? For Songkick, I can see the value of Detour being in (1) user engagement, finding another way of actively engaging with the Songkick user base and (2) a reduced dependency on other ticket sites, being more in control (and generate revenue) of organising events and creating a platform for ticket and merchandise sales. For users, Detour provides a great platform for getting to see artists that one probably wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.

Main learning point: crowd-funding initiatives like Kickstarter are rapidly growing and gaining momentum and now Songkick has launched its own version in Detour. An interesting extension of its services, tapping into Songkick’s solid user base whilst providing Songkick the opportunity to take over from ticket vendors. I guess the success of Detour will be largely determined by the scale of its user base and by Songkick generating sufficient interest for the artists ‘in the offering’.

Fig. 1 – Screenshot of my artist tracker on

Fig. 2 – Screenshot of Detour homepage

Related links for further learning:

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