By ANDREW McKAYSMITH
I recently caught up with entrepreneurial former Microsoft developer and Seattle local Keith Babinec, to discuss his new venture: A musician and performance artist DIY community support business called Tourvival.
According to the service’s web page, Tourvival’s aim is to ‘…make touring easier and more financially viable for independent performers than it is today. We do this by offering the Tourvival website for the DIY performance community to connect with and help one another out.’
Sums it up really.
Before we started talking about Tourvival, I thought it best gauge Babinec’s thoughts on the music industry in 2017.
“I think a lot of bands are still focussing on DIY. It is encouraging to see established bands that are on their own labels, doing stuff then self-releasing. We are seeing a comeback of people putting out records and getting involved.”
Then he mentions something that almost every artist I have interviewed from North America recently has a strong opinion about.
“When it comes to American politics we are seeing a resurgence with punk music that is fighting back against the establishment.”
‘The Donald’ is certainly making waves across the community of musicians and artists in 2017. Prominent punk and metal artists have mentioned that we are entering an era that feels a lot like when Ronald Reagan was in power. Many reading will recall what happened to punk and heavy metal back then… It managed to obtain centre stage and many artists now thriving had their careers take hold during that era (Ozzy Osbourne’s solo career, Metallica, Bad Religion, Henry Rollins etc)
“People who are passionate about politics and standing up for what is right will get involved. Some of my favourite bands have already put out one-off pieces. I really like this band called United Nations. They are sort of a punk super-group that they have just put out a single on Donald Trump’s inauguration day. As far as a resurgence, I definitely see that happening this year.”
Let’s talk about the service itself then. How does it work?
“One of the things that sets us apart is that instead of visiting a website where you just see a listing of email addresses and venues and phone numbers, this is more of an active community where you put out a request, then people who are able to help will respond to you. So it works a little differently that the solutions that are already out there. There are some other websites in this space that are also helpful to the DIY community. One of those is Do DIY. That site contains an open listing of venues, promoters, things like that.”
So why did Babinec get involved in the DIY scene then? What was the spark that lit the fire so to speak?
“I’d go to shows, I have got a lot of friends who are in bands and they’d often ask questions like ‘where am I going to sleep tonight?’. I wanted to see if I can try to help these guys out. That is where the idea came from”
As is often the case in the DIY scene, it is out of the sheer love of the music and the bands that he became inspired and eventually realised his idea. Ever a labour of love, Babinec worked on Tourvival in his spare time with his wife until it eventually became a full time commitment.
“I was working on (Tourvival) with my wife Reagan on nights and weekends. She was also in the tech industry. We had saved up a little money and I quit my job to work full time on finishing it and launching. Now that it’s up and running, it requires much less time for us to manage and eventually I should be able to go back to a regular job.”
I can only begin to imagine the time and energy Babinec and his wife have devoted to the site’s success. Does he hope to eventually bring the idea to a point of profitability?
“We aren’t trying to be the next Facebook or AirBnB – we just wanted to build something that makes touring easier. So our current focus is to grow it and test the concept in the USA. If Tourvival ends up being helpful for people and we need to maintain it long-term, our financial goal would be to break even to keep the doors open. To achieve that goal we may end up offering a ‘free’ and a paid tier, similar to what Spotify have done. The ‘free’ subscription will enable access to current features and use of the service, then the paid subscription may offer members access to new premium features like analytics or tour management software.”
There you have it. The globe’s foremost DIY resource centre for musicians and artists is currently only available to our friends in the USA. I certainly hope some enterprising individual helps Babinec bring the service to Australasia and Oceania.
Tourvival’s Facebook page is the best place for the rest of the world to catch up with this fantastic service: https://www.facebook.com/tourvival . For those in the USA check out tourvival: https://www.tourvival.com