Shindig enables fans to book bands for gigs

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:47 am

Shindigs Inc., Innovation: Crowd-sourced event booking platform Milwaukee

Milwaukee has long been a city known for its live music. Summerfest and other festivals and concerts showcase the city’s contemporary, indie, jazz, rock and other musical backgrounds.

Milwaukee was even named by concert blog as one of the “10 Most ‘Rocking’ Cities” for rock concerts in the country. Madison was No. 2 on that list.

With that in mind, Brendon Thomas founded Shindigs Inc. in Milwaukee.

Shindig is a web-based social platform that uses crowd-sourced ideas and feedback to book live music events at local venues. Thomas worked with a team of developers and advisors to launch the first version of, which rolled out in December of 2011.

“When I first came up with the idea, a lot of investors thought and even I thought for a while that I’d need to move to a coastal city or even Austin, Texas, to make it work,” said Thomas, founder and chief executive officer at Shindig. “After taking a look at the music scene here and the number of great venues where artists could potentially play, I realized we had what we needed right here in Milwaukee.”

According to Thomas, one in every 50 people is some type of musician who performs for money and yet, there are only about 4,000 artists signed to record labels.

“There is a tremendous amount of economic opportunity for venues and artists across the country that lie outside those 4,000 signed artists,” he said. “It’s a huge gap.”

Right now, the Shindig team will connect directly with venues in the Milwaukee area to find out which nights they have available when a concert could be hosted, Thomas said.

Those available dates get imported into the Shindig website and users can decide which local artist they’d like to see and at what venue.

“It’s set up so we work with local artists and venues to decide how many tickets need to be sold in order for the show to get booked,” Thomas said. “If that ‘tipping point’ isn’t reached, the ‘Shindig’ doesn’t happen, and fans can try harder the next time.”

Users can propose shows and share their concert ideas with friends on other social networking sites to encourage the booking of the show faster.

“It’s a win-win for everybody and there is literally no risk,” Thomas said. “If the shows don’t get booked, the business or the venue isn’t losing any money, but if it does get booked, they are guaranteed the cover costs of all those people who purchased ahead of time and would potentially make even more money through alcohol and food sales throughout the evening.”

Tickets on Shindig are not actual event tickets, Thomas said.

“What the user is paying for is essentially a cover charge that they would normally pay at the door to get into a venue hosting a concert,” he said. “This way they just pay for it ahead of time, get on the list, commit to going to the show and in the process help alleviate some of the risk associated with booking live music.”

Shindig Inc. takes a small portion of the pre-sold cover charge tickets to cover operational costs and transaction fees, Thomas said.

Once the show is booked, the business/venue is guaranteed that at least its minimum number of individuals will have paid for the cover charge. If the Shindig does not get booked, the user does not get charged for the purchase, Thomas said.

According to Thomas, using Shindig could also help generate useful data for artists and venues on what type of clientele makes up a fan base.

“Without sharing any personal information, we could help determine frequent users and loyal fans to help play a role in loyalty programs,” Thomas said.

Data also could be used to determine which artists’ fans tend to overlap, which could help decide opening acts or possible tour schedules in the future, he said.

Shindig Inc. launched its Beta version in early December and has already booked one “Shindig” and has a few others pending for January, Thomas said.

The company is currently working with more than 40 local artists and 10 venues including, The Wherehouse, Best Place at Pabst Brewery, Milwaukee Ale House, BBC, Moct, and unconventional venues such as the Eisner Museum, Thomas said.

Shindig is also accessible through mobile devices, he said.

“Our goal is to get to the point where venues and artists are working directly with each other and with fans to make events happen,” Thomas said. “We’re looking for that scalability. Right now we’re focused on making it work and work well with the great local artists and venues we have right here in Milwaukee.”

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