Want a private gig? Name your price

New web idea

Comedy fans could be seeing their favourite big-name stand-ups in exclusive private gigs if a new internet service takes off.

Until now, punters wanting to see star comedians up close had to rely on rumours of secret appearances at comedy clubs where they road test material – or have a budget of thousands to be able to afford an acts’ corporate rate.

But fans registered to owngig.com can now pledge ‘bids’ stating how much they would be prepared to spend to see their favourite acts play intimate shows near them.

When there’s enough support, the company gets in touch with the act’s management to try to organise the exclusive dates.

The company has been targeting music fans for the past four months, and at the weekend staged its first gig, with Eighties band the Blow Monkeys playing a pub in London’s East End, with fans paying £100 each. Now it has branched out into comedy, too .

Founder Richard Davies said: ‘We have an idea of the cost artists’ would charge, and we track the bids to that level . We are led by what fans tell us.

‘Often bands will play for less; they will drop their price if they are playing for fans and they often like the idea of smaller venues where it is a more interesting show. It might be the same with comedians.’

The site has so far attracted 10,000 members, bidding on an average of three or four acts each. However, bids for comedians have yet to take off; with Frankie Boyle the most popular stand-up with just nine bids.

Davies admitted there are many variables in his plan, such as how many pledges turn into concrete support once the gig is arranged, but says that once the company builds up steam, they will learn a lot more… which might help big acts planning their UK tours.

‘We’ll be able to add marketing intelligence into touring,’ he said. ‘Rather than being based on the gut feeling of a promoter, we’ll have the numbers.’

Owngig plans its first comedy show in the next few months, for as Davies admits: ‘We need to put on the gigs otherwise people won’t come back.’

Published: 26 Nov 2008

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