June 5, 2009

Erin McKeown's house parties

In the past couple of years musicians who have decided to free themselves from the corporate structure of the music industry have come up with creative ways to finance their albums. One way they've done this is by offering their fans special deals in exchange for some help with funding. This has included exclusive meet-and-greets, autographed items, special concert seating, and even personalized house or backyard concerts for top donors.
Well, Erin McKeown has taken her house concert idea to someplace totally new: her house. Erin is offering up a series of concerts at her own house in Western Mass., and is inviting fans to join her over the Internet. In what she is calling Cabin Fever, Erin will play four shows from various places in her yard, all with different themes, and is asking people to pay $10 per show to stream it live on her site. A cost of $30 will get you all four shows. This is all to benefit the recording and release of her new album "Hundreds of Lions."
She writes: "In the grand tradition of barn-raisings and house-rent parties, Erin McKeown is inviting you into her living room, onto her porch, into her river, into her yard and asking you to lend a hand... just as farmers needed their neighbors to help raise the roof and musicians have sung for their supper."
Here's how it works. You sign up with a credit card on her site and then the day of the show, you log in with a password and watch the show live. If you aren't available that day, you can still view it at your leisure afterward.

Here is the info and schedule for the four shows:
Tuesday, July 7 - 7 p.m.: An intimate, acoustic candlit evening in Erin's living room, plus a tour of her house
Thursday, July 16 - noon: An interactive, all-request electric set from Erin's riverside porch
Wednesday, July 22 - 5 p.m.: Erin performs classic cover songs about water of all sorts from a rock in the middle of her river.
Sunday, July 26 - 3 p.m.: The new album performed in sequence by Erin and band, from her front yard
Rain Location: They'll broadcast from the inside of Erin's Sprinter Touring Van.

I love the idea that musicians are coming up with unique ways to share their music and give fans a chance to feel closer to the artist and to being a part of the creative process.
When I first got the email, I thought I was being invited over to Erin's house to hear her play live. That was exciting. But this makes more sense as a funding idea since fans can still feel some of that intimacy, but the reach for the artist is far wider than having fans who live in geographical proximity stop by... and it saves on cleanup!
Seriously, if this is the future of the music industry, it is so much better for consumers than going to some big box store and plunking down $18 for a CD, with most of the cost going to some fat cat label executive. At least you know you know where your money is.

I don't know what the quality of the broadcast will be. The technological aspect of this may be the tough part, though streaming video is getting better and better very quickly.
My guess if Erin's idea goes off without a hitch, there will be a lot of artist's following suit. And if so, I will be a happy music fan.

Check out the video preview:

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