What happens when 3 local brands collaborate on a show for SXSW 2022?
Flash back for a moment. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in Austin, TX. SXSW music week is in full swing, and you’re searching for a show that gives you a solid variety of new artists to enjoy. Ideally, it’ll feel like a special SXSW event, but is unofficial so you and your friends can get in, regardless of your badgeholder status.
You want to soak up the “just before they got discovered” spirit that makes SXSW so special, but there are so many things going on all at once in the same weekend… It can get a little overwhelming.
So where do you go? For a rich and diverse lineup featuring hip hop, R&B, and pop fused with soul, you come to Tillery Live!
It’s one of those IYKYK situations. Tillery Live! is a recurring showcase that a guy named Abhi started back in 2019. And if you’ve been to Tillery Live! once, you tend to tell your friends about it and come back the next time.
I certainly did. Consider me a super-convert.
Finding a Trusted Curator for Local Music
Today I’m going to tell you how Abhi has developed a community in Austin through hosting this show called Tillery Live! You’ll learn how Musicians Can Thrive became a partner of Abhi’s company, PRMTD. Entertainment. Then I’ll bring you behind the scenes with the story of why we chose Mic Check as our ticketing platform for this event.
But first, you might want a little context, so here goes…
I’m Gigi - host and creator of Musicians Can Thrive. It’s a podcast audio documentary; born out of my own desire to learn how I could develop a career in music, without living the “starving artist” life my grandma always said wasn’t a “real job.” I had a feeling there were other artists who also wanted to learn with me…
It’s 2020, one of my friends has an unofficial show she’s playing during SXSW music week. She’s excited. I trust her judgment when it comes to picking good shows in Austin, and I’m hoping to find a few new artists to interview for my podcast.
The show was called Tillery Live! I made it just in time.
We were 2 days away from the COVID quarantines we wanted to pretend weren’t coming. But in the meantime, I got to soak up my very last live show for what felt like AGES.
I was impressed by the variety of artists that rotated through the stage. It wasn’t restricted to one genre, and the music was all consistently good.
Attending Tillery Live! felt like I’d found a solution to one of my personal pet peeves about learning to navigate the Austin music scene.
Before you develop your personal list of go-to local artists or venues, one of the challenges is knowing where to look. When artists are just starting to build momentum, develop their audience, and eventually win over the local music press as fans… It’s really hard to pick a show because you have no idea who or what to look for.
Genres? Artist names? Venue vibe? It’s anyone’s guess. Google can be helpful, IG is sometimes better. But there’s not an easy go-to source of recommendations you can trust.
The Austin Chronicle does a pretty solid job, but even their show listings have coverage gaps. After all, you can’t report on what you don’t know. The Mic Check app is made to help solve this problem - check out The Verse to learn about their fan experience and music discovery features.
But I digress.
Point is, the first time I went to Tillery Live! I learned about a whole bunch of talented local artists I had never heard of before that show. Now, some of them are becoming local legends in their own right. Anyone heard of Susannah Joffe?
Musician Can Thrive + PRMTD. Entertainment Co-host Tillery Live!
After Tillery Live! 2020, Abhi and I became good friends and trusted collaborators.
We’re both passionate about finding ways to support and elevate local talent as they develop their careers and make their way to bigger stages. In 2021, we co-hosted Tillery Live! together.
I know you’re curious - what was the event like? Watch the recap video below and find out.
Shortly thereafter, I met Takoda Roland, founder of the Austin-based app Mic Check.
Takoda and I initially bonded over our shared appreciation for a proactive approach to customer service, and how that can be a helpful lens for artists to view their show promotion through.
As I learned more about the ticketing platform he’s built the Mic Check app into, I could see the potential for how artists gain valuable clarity around their ticket sales. Bookers, venues, and show promoters also benefit from having that information.
But I especially love how it puts the power back into the artist’s hands. If they know how many tickets they’re selling for each show they play, that gives them more information to use when negotiating the rate they’re paid for the next show.
Mic Check Ticketing for Tillery Live! During South by Southwest 2022
Preparations for a return to in-person SXSW events began, and Abhi and I decided to collaborate again, co-hosting Tillery Live! in 2022. This time we expanded beyond doing a music showcase. The event included live interviews for the artists, with me, in the Musicians Can Thrive lounge.
Last year, we used Eventbrite for ticketing. It was easy enough. The support for digital ticketing on mobile devices was helpful. We hosted the show at Tillery Kitchen + Bar, so we needed an easy system we could run ourselves, without involving the venue’s staff. Eventbrite solved that problem, but for a music showcase with multiple artists performing, the revenue sharing wasn’t very sophisticated.
Abhi and I both prioritize paying the artists who perform at Tillery Live! So each artist received a guaranteed percentage of revenue from ticket sales.
One of the downsides of using Eventbrite was we didn’t have any data to show which artist contributed to the most ticket sales. Or frankly, how many ticket sales could be attributed to artists on our lineup, versus tickets that were sold as a result of our own marketing for the show.
We wanted to do better.
And this time, there was a recently launched ticketing platform called Mic Check. So I introduced Abhi and Takoda, and recommended we use Mic Check for Tillery Live!
Each week, we got an email from Takoda keeping us up to date on how many tickets we’d sold, and which artists people said they were coming to see. It’s this really cool feature that’s part of the ticket checkout. You choose the main artist you’re going to the show for, and if there are additional artists on the lineup you like - you can mark them down too.
The Cherry on Top of the Mic Check Dessert
Abhi has built a solid community in Austin with his company PRMTD. Entertainment by hosting shows consistently and managing artists in Texas and New Jersey. So it wasn’t surprising that we sold nearly double the tickets we did the prior year. Tillery Live! 2021 had a packed house, and Tillery Live! 2022 brought its own steady stream of foot traffic coming to check out the event.
The best surprise was at the end of the weekend, after the show was done, the stage lights and mics were put away, and Takoda sent Abhi the sales report.
We’re sitting at brunch. Tired, yet buzzing from the success of a show well done, after many late nights preparing.
Abhi’s about to do the artist payouts, expecting there to be some revenue loss from ticketing fees like he’s experienced in the past with Eventbrite. But he gets a text from Takoda…
“Your $ is your $”
Abhi looks up, big grin on his face. He nudges me, points to his phone screen. That’s when I know Mic Check cares about the little details that make up the experience of being their customer.
PRMTD. Entertainment isn’t at the level of Heard Presents yet, and my podcast Musicians Can Thrive isn’t at the level of KUTX yet. But with Tillery Live! this year, we reached a meaningful milestone with our ticket sales. I can’t reveal how much, but it’s something any small business would be proud of.
Mic Check being in Austin helped us make this happen. We got to celebrate that win without any ticketing fees detracting from the money paid to the independent artists who performed on our stage, or the dedicated team that helped us host such a special event.
P.S. You can find PRMTD. Entertainment and Musicians Can Thrive in these places…
Explore live music and other behind the scenes stories with Musicians Can Thrive on Instagram @musicianscanthrive.
Show notes and other articles live on https://www.musicianscanthrive.com/.