With the outbreak of coronavirus having a devastating impact on most industries, including the music and live events industries, many have been searching for alternative ways to earn a living doing what they love. As you’ve probably seen on social media, artists have been urging fans to support them by buying their merch and music, as cancelling live shows ultimately cancels out one of their main sources of income. But there is another way that still enables artists to engage and entertain their fans with live performances, and that comes in the form of StageIt.
StageIt is an online venue where artists perform and live-stream shows to their fans directly from a laptop. Fans must purchase ‘Pay What You Can’ tickets to view the show, enabling artists to make money just as they would from a live show in a physical venue. Fans can also gift a free ticket to friends and can tip artists via the platform. Musician Janet Devlin has completed 113 StageIt shows so far since she joined in 2014 and since then she has developed a huge fanbase on the platform. On average, she sells anywhere between 200-300 tickets a show and she currently has 1750 StageIt followers. With two shows coming up on March 26, we spoke to Devlin about how Stageit has transformed her career and how it can especially help other artists in the face of coronavirus…
What has the impact of coronavirus been for you, and the wider music industry, so far?
For me, I’ve had to cancel a bunch of live events that I’d not even announced yet. As someone who rarely does gigs off the internet, I was really looking forward to them. On top of this, promo trips have been postponed, including one to the US. I am halfway through moving back to London from Ireland, so I’m going to have to make some quick decisions and fast. I need to be here with my team at such an important time of my album release, so I hope I don’t get stranded. More widely, I can see that most of the live industry is on its knees now with the uncertainty of things.
What can we do to make this situation easier for musicians and live performers?
It may sound like a shameless plug but, buy my stuff: I’ve got merch, physical music and digital downloads all available – so supporting the online retail side would really help. Any way that fans can support artists in times such as these will go a long way to making sure musicians and performers can continue to do what they do for a living.
How does StageIt help? What opportunities does it provide?
StageIt has been an amazing way for me to get closer to my followers and give people who can’t travel or access my shows a way to see and hear me. It’s helped me establish an online community of amazingly supportive and lovely humans. As I’ve been doing these online shows for six years now, I can well and truly say that the shows and the fans kept a roof over my head and food on my table. I also used the money I earned from doing them to get me to sessions and to make my latest album. Also, the ‘hitch a ride’ function (where StageIt community members ‘gift’ tickets to users) is brilliant as it enables people who might not normally buy a ticket for your show, to pop their head in and become part of the community for a night. I get a chance to win them over and hope they feel like they want to come back.
How has StageIt become a resource for your management team?
It’s a good way of delivering announcements to the hard-core fans first. I figure if people are so committed to coming to every show and engaging at the level they do, I have a duty to make sure they get the latest news straight from the horse’s mouth. Another thing it’s really helped us with is testing songs for my YouTube channel. If there’s any I want to record, but I am not sure which way to go, I’ll try it out during a show to gauge reaction – this then generally gives me the confidence to record them. Of course, there’s a financial benefit too – it gives me security when it comes to my living costs which takes the pressure off like you wouldn’t believe. It has also helped them get to know some of my nearest and dearest fans.
Do you think Stageit will be something wider music consumers will engage in?
Well, with the way the world’s current state of affairs is, I would imagine so. I think once people give it a go, they usually love it. It’s just getting people to take the time to set up a profile. But if we’re going to be stuck indoors for the next couple of months, I can see more and more people giving it a go.
Could StageIt make the music industry more profitable for musicians – and more accessible for audiences – regardless of coronavirus?
I think so! Almost everything these days has a digital alternative. As someone who can’t always be around crowds, I really appreciate the online gig option. There’s a lot less stress involved for me as a gig-goer online. Though I never want it to replace live music entirely, it’s nice to have the option.
How does StageIt emulate – and even enhance – the experience of a live concert?
I think there’s the option for a lot more honest and open conversations between songs. As you’re not competing for sound, it feels much easier to talk and get my point across. If I have musicians, the fans will often interact with them too; it’s a lovely little, big, family.