Happy Sunday SuLo readers! After a few week haitus, we’re back with a new startup interview. This week, we’d like to introduce you to StageIt – an online concert venue that connects artists with their fans through an intimate and exclusive online experience. Musicians perform live online, and fans are charged a small ticket price (or “notes”) to be able to watch and live chat with the artists. With this platform, founder Evan Lowenstein has figured out a way to allow artists to monetize their music, while avoiding the piracy issues that plague the industry. StageIt has features about 15 shows a day, and has had performances from artists like Trey Songz, Jason Mraz, Bowling for Soup, amongst many others. Keep on reading to find out more about this cool startup and to see the StageIt team’s take on their story.
StartupLowdown: Thanks for taking the time to speak with Startup Lowdown! We’re really excited to chat with the StageIt team. To start, could you explain what StageIt is for our readers who don’t already know?
StageIt: Stageit is an online venue that allows artists to stream interactive, monetized shows. Artists perform live from their laptops, and fans tune in around the world and watch from theirs. Fans buy tickets, tip the artist, ask them questions, and request songs. Stageit gives fans a front row seat to a backstage experience that is not recorded or archived.
StartupLowdown: How did you come up with this idea? At what point did you know that this was something you had to pursue?
StageIt: Our founder and CEO Evan Lowenstein was a successful recording artist and he came up with the idea for Stageit out of a need that he had to connect with his fans around the globe. There was no site out there that allowed him to tour the world from his living room, so he built it himself! It’s pretty clear that other artists had the same needs, as over 25,000 artists have used Stageit since it’s inception.
StartupLowdown: What are your main focus areas going forward as you continue to grow StageIt’s reach?
StageIt: The word for 2013 is SOCIAL. We want our experience to become more social. We see fans hanging out on our site chatting with each other for hours, sometimes even weeks before the actual show takes place. We want these fans with similar passions to meet each other, attend shows together, and get to know each other better.
We want to turn ourselves into a destination venue. Right now, a large majority of our fans come to Stageit to see their favorite artist play. And that’s fantastic. Our focus over the next year or so, is to become a place where friends get together online and head to Stageit before they even know who is playing, but they come because Stageit is a great place to interact with like-minded fans, and there is always someone incredible playing on the site.
We want Stageit to be more accessible to more people on more devices.
We ultimately want to expand to new verticals. We have seen comedians, magicians, authors, athletes and chefs all do shows on Stageit with great success. We think that shows a lot of promise.
Lastly, look for some fantastic partnerships and integrations with some great companies this year. I think that’s a good start for 2013. 😉
StartupLowdown: What has been the most challenging obstacle in scaling StageIt thus far?
StageIt: Technology. Without a doubt. I often say that technology is like the ocean–vast and beautiful with endless possibilities but at any moment something lurking beneath the surface can come up and kill you. It’s the great unknown. We are so grateful to have a head of technology that has an amazing handle on a business. But there was a time… wow. Let me just say, there was a time when it didn’t come so easy to us. Now, the only frustrations we face are our own desire to develop as fast as we can think! We have so many amazing ideas that have come to us from artists and fans that we can’t wait to implement. Stageit really is an amazing community that relies on its users!
StartupLowdown: Can you share anything about StageIt’s performance? How many musicians are currently signed up? How many “fans”? Are you profitable?
StageIt: The average fan last month spent $14.60 per show on our site! Fans constantly demonstrate their need to support the artists they love. We often tell artists that not performing on Stageit is denying your fans the right to support you!
63% of artists’ revenues come from the tip jar alone–that’s a 100% voluntary spend!
We currently have approximately 15 shows a day on our site.
We are nearly profitable and have done more than prove our concept. We have now decided to take a larger investment to focus on massive growth and take our company to the next level.
StartupLowdown: It must be pretty awesome having Jimmy Buffett and Sean Parker backing StageIt; what has their investment meant to your company?
StageIt: As awesome as it sounds. Jimmy is a legendary artist that loves technology and Sean Parker is a legendary technologist that loves music! As a music technology company, it doesn’t get much better than that! Having their support and backing means a lot to our team. It’s a boost of confidence. Having them associated with our company has helped us open many doors.
StartupLowdown: What do you think is StageIt’s main “key to success”?
StageIt: We pride ourselves on truly understanding the relationship between an artist and a fan. I think that separates from any other company more than anything. Our product is unique for sure and we care for our customer like they are family, but our understanding of what an artist needs and what a fan wants is our forte. Everyone at the company has a background in music and technology and most of us are actually artists ourselves!
In addition to being artists, we are also fans ourselves. We know what we need to deliver to make sure fans have the most incredible experience on Stageit as well.
And understanding the relationship between an artist and a fan means getting out of the way as much as possible. When you put an artist on an online stage with dozes or hundreds of their fans in the same room, there are magical moments that take place. Our job is to cut out the middleman, step aside, and let the two parties connect.
StartupLowdown: Once again, we really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. We’re really excited to see what StageIt has in store, and wish you all the best!
StageIt: Thank you so much for your time.
To find out more about StageIt, you can visit any of the links below:
Check them out and let us know what you think! If you find a cool artist or show, tells us in the comments below.