The front row and the backstage – the best places to be for every fan, though not always easily accessible. Stageit, a Los Angeles-based startup, lets music enthusiasts get up close and personal with their favorite artists, right in the comfort of their own home.
Launched by Evan Lowenstein of pop group Evan and Jaron at the 2011 South by Southwest music festival, Stageit gives fans a front row seat and backstage access anytime, anywhere. All they need is a computer with an Internet connection and a ticket to the show of their choice.
Lowenstein, who discovered that online videos shared by fans contributed greatly to an artist's success, started Stageit to help fellow musicians reach more people by broadcasting live shows on the web. Once an artist has signed up for an account, they can schedule an event and set their own ticket prices. (Some artists let fans pay what they can.) During the show, fans can chat with the performer, request songs, and show their support by leaving tips in a virtual tip jar.
While the service is free to use, Stageit collects 40 percent of ticket sales. And because each event is live and unrecorded, the experience is very similar to that of an actual concert.
The average Stageit gig gets about 20 viewers. Its biggest show so far, which attracted 11,000 fans, was a benefit in August 2011 that featured Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Jackson Browne, and others.
Country singer Jake Owen, who used Stageit to raise money for charity, was amazed at the response he received. “I raised over a thousand dollars sitting in my kitchen last night playing acoustic guitar,” he said with a big smile on his face during an interview.
Lowenstein doesn't want Stageit to be limited to just musicians, though, and sees other performers such as authors and comedians utilizing the service as well. According to him, “I would love Stageit to become the eBay of experience.”