A much needed (Song)kick to online concert bookings

South Africans may have noticed the influx of international acts venturing tours to their fair shores. Until now, we have generally had a poor showing with regards to big artist concerts (with the exception of the ill-fated Coke festivals).

Artists have to fly all the way to the south of Africa, where there are only three cities that can really support large scale concerts, and then have to span an entire continent or ocean to get to their next stop.

Locally, we’re simply not that financially viable. Nevertheless, with acts like U2, Coldplay, Kings Of Leon and Kylie Minogue all coming in 2011, it seems that this may be changing. And with this change, we have begun to experience the joy of hearing that a much-loved artist is coming, only to have it dashed when we find out that Golden Circle has already sold out within the first 30 minutes of going on sale.

How does one avoid this? Well the first step is to always be the first to know about concerts. If only there was a website that allowed you to do this…

Enter Songkick.com, a web service which allows you to track your favourite bands, and/or see who’s playing around you. It detects your location automatically (although it can be edited) and populates any upcoming gigs occurring nearby. The service is also automatically pulled into Youtube.com/music and Soundcloud, again, auto-determining your location. While there are a host of other web services that serve this purpose (Reverb Nation, for example), most are either American or Euro-centric.

Songkick includes many local artists and venues, making it one of the few online music services that is applicable to the local music scene. For convenience sake, it also allows users to populate their tracked bands from iTunes, Last.fm or Pandora and you can export upcoming gigs into your Google or Apple calender.

The most effective place, however, to hear about new concerts and changes to existing concerts is Twitter. Simply follow the relevant venues, promotions agency or music blogger and you’ll pick up the news as it breaks. (@Bigconcerts, @5fm, @Ramfest, @mktv_). It has proven again and again that it is the quickest information propagator around.

Alternatively, you could always subscribe to Computicket’s own mailing list, but this is unpersonalised and you end up getting emails relating to every one of its concerts. Despite Computicket being the predominant ticketing service in South Africa, it should be remembered that it is not the only one and certainly not without a fair amount of criticism. Unfortunately, ticket engines like this can crash under the strain of the temporary demand created by the release of tickets for larger concerts (like Coldplay, Kings of Leon and U2). As ticketing services usually hold exclusivity over certain events, there is no way to counter this.

As with much of the music industry, South Africa remains a few steps behind in the integrating online usefully with the music, but this is partly to do with the small market and lack of international attention. There is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to local artists attracting more fans to gigs using online platforms. Gigs, after all, are where musicians make the largest portion of their income. Money from live events has now eclipsed revenue from music sales. Steps are, however, being taken in the right direction.



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