GigTown: Money for Nothing

GigTown introduces a way for musicians to make a little extra money, but it's up to fans to help

If there’s one meme that perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to be a struggling musician (which is roughly, oh, about 99 percent of us), it’s the one that reads: “Musician: Someone who loads $5,000 worth of gear into a $500 car to drive 100 miles to a $50 gig.” For a lot of musicians, money is scarce. Luckily, GigTown is here to help.

For those unfamiliar with the San Diego-based company, GigTown has been busy creating a network of bands, venues and music fans to increase exposure and discovery among all of them. They’ve already compiled a huge library of original songs and videos by local musicians for potential fans to check out; they list popular live-music venues in town and their scheduled shows; and even offer booking services to those clubs. Now, they’re giving musicians a new way to make money.

“It’s pretty straight forward,” GigTown co-founder and "Grand Poobah" Andy Altman told SoundDiego. “Artists enter their shows on the GigTown app, and when someone checks in on it -- there’s a big, bright orange button for that -- at a show while they’re at the venue, the artist gets a $5 tip from us.”

Sound cool? That’s because it is. Let’s be honest: For a lot of bands, playing shows generally results in less-than-hefty paydays -- but now, they have another source of revenue that isn’t reliant on sketchy promoters and thuggish door guys. Bottom line: If your friends and fans come out to see you play, you could basically be looking at -- how’s that Dire Straits song go? -- “money for nothing.” You just gotta put the footwork into it. And let’s be honest, if you’re doing this whole music thing right, you should be making an effort to talk to every friend or fan that comes out to your shows anyway. Just think of it as a one more step that could actually net you some moolah.

“The whole ‘tipping’ idea came about because we need to find a way to connect musicians, music venues and music fans,” Altman explained. “This is a great way to incentivize people to come out to shows and support local bands. And the thing is, people do want to support local music. They’ve been responding to this call-to-action. ‘Oh, I can download an app, check in -- and the band gets tipped?’ They’ll support if given the chance. We’re seeing a lot more people getting involved. And ultimately, that’s all we’re trying to do.”

Surprisingly, there’s no red tape either, no fine print or weird nonsense. Artists get paid easily and quickly via PayPal. Music fans don’t have to be new users. Folks don’t have to download the app on the spot. No limit on the number of shows they can check in to, or the number of artists they can support. Heck, moms can go to every show their kid plays, check in at every single one, and guess what? They just made their precious student of the month $5 each time. The only bummer about this thing is that the promotion will eventually end.

“It will run until the end of November, or until we pay out $20,000 -- whichever comes sooner,” Altman said.

Musicians, that means you gotta get on it. In an industry that routinely underpays and undervalues the artists that make everything possible in the first place, this app could put some cold, hard cash in the pockets of those that most deserve it. That’s definitely a good thing.

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