To quote the generous spring of wisdom that is Wayne’s World 2, “if you book them they will come.” Andrew Goldin had never organised a gig before prior to this week (September 17) when, in a coup that concert industry experts are speculating may change the future of how live shows are booked, he raised over $70,000 (£43,000) to stage a fan-funded Foo Fighters gig in Richmond, Virginia – the group’s first show there in 16 years. How did a freelance advertising creative director with no experience staging gigs manage to convince one of the biggest bands to come to his town? We got his guide…
“In April this year, I’d sold $10,000 worth of tickets to a concert that didn’t exist yet. We didn’t have a venue. We didn’t even have a band. But we had a plan. I first had the idea a couple of years ago, when I first came across Kickstarter and the idea of crowd-funding. I thought that’d be a really cool way of putting on a show, and convincing a band who maybe wouldn’t normally come to your town or city that there’s a huge appetite for their music there. Me and the friends I’d roped into the idea – John McAdorey, Lucas Krost and Brig White – threw around the names of a few bands, but we’re all huge Foo Fighters fans – ‘The Colour and the Shape’ is probably my favourite record of theirs – and we loved the idea of bringing them back to Richmond.
We put up this video explaining our idea and asking for people to pledge money for tickets. If the show didn’t go ahead, people would receive full refunds. Everyone in Richmond was really behind the idea, luckily – it’s really down to the people of Richmond that the show took place as much as it has anything to do with me. We didn’t go to the venue – this 1500-capacity space called The National – or the band until we’d raised $20,000 (£12,000) to show that we were serious. It turned out Dave was really behind the idea too – we met him at the show and he told me his attitude to social media is that he prefers it when people shut their laptops, their camera phones and so on and engage with the real world, but this was a really cool example of music fans using the internet for good. I’m glad to say everything you’ve heard about Dave being just the nicest, most humble guy is so true. It was so cool chatting to him and finding he lives up to that reputation.
The show itself was spectacular. I had a few nerves going into it – would it all go smoothly? There were a few minor incidents with people thinking they’d booked more tickets than they had on the door and stuff like that, but otherwise it all went without a hitch. It was all sort of out of my hands by that point – the machine had taken over. The venue do this professionally – they had lights and sound guys who knew what they were doing. The Foo Fighters have done this every night for almost 20 years – they have a whole team who know what they’re doing. Their set was absolutely incredible. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the entire night.
I’m not sure if proving fan-funding gigs can work is going to change anything – some people have said it could change the concert industry, that it could put Ticketmaster out of business and usher in a new business model for booking shows. But I don’t really know about that, and by no means is this any kind of manual for bringing your favourite band to town. But I guess it does prove how far a bit of initiative and persistence goes. I don’t take well to being told ‘no’ – it’s something that’s probably hurt me in a lot of situations but in this case really helped put something special together. Now I’ve had a taste of putting on crowd-funded shows am I thinking ahead to bringing more bands to town? I only went to bed 6 or 7 hours ago but once I’ve recovered, let’s see what happens…”