How artists and hosts can utilize Side Door’s live music booking platform and more on their efforts to support underrepresented voices this festival season.
The following comes from Side Door, a company DMN is proud to be partnering with.
Touring has become a costly part of doing business as an artist today: inflation, skyrocketing travel, production costs, staff shortages, supply-chain issues, one positive COVID test away from derailing the whole thing, and a flooded market for venues — the ones that are still able to keep their doors open. This has led to a long line of artists publicly sharing that they are simply unable to make getting out on the road profitable.
While these challenges are echoed throughout the industry regardless of the size of the artist, how is the current touring model sustainable? How do artists make a living and grow their fanbase when they take home less than they need to spend? Especially considering the majority of an artist’s cut of the ticket sales at some traditional venues doesn’t even cover the gas money to get there.
Live performance remains an integral part of an artist’s career, but a new alternative approach is necessary to ensure that live music is sustainable and successful.
Reducing the overhead of shows is an important first step. For example, doing house concerts in secondary and college markets between big city plays can become a profitable component of any touring strategy. A second step is providing elevated experiences for super fans, like doing an intimate listening party in a record shop.
There are many underground, regional networks and DIY promoters who create these kinds of shows. But what if artists could access hundreds of spaces like this in one spot?
Side Door is an innovative marketplace that connects artists with presenters to turn any space into a music venue, like backyards, libraries, breweries, etc., giving agency and access to anyone who wants to perform or curate live performances.
Side Door was formed in 2017 by entrepreneur Laura Simpson and indie artist Dan Mangan. Mangan, a two-time JUNO award-winning artist who just received his sixth JUNO nomination for his sixth studio album, Being Somewhere, got his start playing living rooms and backyards. Simpson, an experienced house concert host and industry professional, says, “the dream is to make a more accessible and sustainable live touring ecosystem.”
Artists can post Show Calls on the platform, announcing where and when they want to tour. Available hosts can respond to those requests or post Show Calls of their own. The platform supports matchmaking between artists and hosts, an intuitive booking flow, ticketing and payout tools to complete the process.
Side Door offers show guarantees with a new US touring program.
Side Door recently announced its new program, ‘On The Road with Side Door.’ A US touring program open to artists showcasing at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City or South By Southwest Conference & Festival in Austin. Artists playing ticketed Side Door shows between January and March 2023 can apply for a $500 guarantee in addition to the ticket split from the shows.
The program aims to help independent artists minimize the financial risk associated with live touring. To introduce the concept of touring in alternative venue spaces as a viable option and fully align this program with Side Door’s values, the guarantees in the program are issued on a first-come-first-serve basis, with applications that have diverse, under-represented voices being prioritized.
To apply or learn more about On the Road with Side Door, visit here.
Side Door’s part in festival season 2023
In addition to the touring program, Side Door announced its 2023 South By Southwest panel, ‘How To Tour in 2023 Without Going Broke.’ This panel will give independent artists a better look into leveraging Side Door’s platform to find meaningful shows without the fear of a huge financial setback.
The panel will be an open conversation between four music industry professionals: Dan Mangan, artist and co-founder of Side Door; Andrew Lieb, artist manager at Red Light Management; Brighid Fry of Housewife; and tour and merch manager Abbey Simmons.
“Touring can be a double-edged sword full of life-giving and/or soul-sucking results, depending on how you execute. Strategic planning is crucial to yielding a successful tour, and it starts with learning the landscape, thinking about the bottom line from day one, and focusing on the why,” says Andrew Leib, artist manager at Red Light Management.
Panelist and singer-songwriter Brighid Fry of Housewife, who saw live shows grind to a halt during COVID, says this is undoubtedly an uncertain time to be an artist. “It is scary to be stepping into this career at a time when the costs of touring are spiraling out of control and when there is so much uncertainty. As a climate activist, I want to be able to work on cutting down the carbon footprint of my tours, but it is increasingly hard for us emerging artists to do so when we have to work so hard just to make sure we don’t lose money on touring.”
Side Door will also hold a showcase at SXSW with six bands who used its tech platform to book shows on their way to Austin.