Jam artists have long honed the “couch tour” concept, but even with that foundation, going virtual when the pandemic shuttered physical venues required quick thinking.
Enter Ben Baruch, founder of Denver-based management company 11E1even Group. Along with 11E1even manager Dave DiCianni, Baruch immediately identified the implications of the coronavirus for touring musicians and created Live From Out There, an innovative online festival and touring model.
11E1even wanted to get “our artists and crews, as well as other artists and crews, paid, through streaming and getting creative with merchandise and VIP packaging, Zoom meet-and-greets … and it’s clearly worked,” Baruch says.
Since launching in mid-March, Live From Out There has raked in over $750,000 through subscriptions and pay-per-view streams, initially serving viewers festival-style weekend programming with 11E1even and non-11E1even artists, and then hosting digital versions of established festivals such as Summer Camp and Northwest String Summit and album-release events by the likes of Ani DiFranco.
This summer, 11E1even upped the ante, staging ambitious virtual tours for clients Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Goose, SunSquabi and Kitchen Dwellers. Live From Out There even spawned a spin-off, Dine From Out There, which unites artists and fans for socially distanced meals at gourmet eateries and benefits the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
Building scenes isn’t new for Baruch, who ignited Los Angeles’ jam landscape in the ’00s with his promotion company Wagatail Productions and fostered an eclectic mix of rock, jam, electronic and more as booker for the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colo., from 2008 to 2014, where he learned from revered AEG exec Don Strasburg.
More recently, he defied industry peers who cautioned that Florida was “awful” for fests, constructing a 2016 Okeechobee lineup that included prescient bookings like then-emerging Post Malone and helped the event sell out its inaugural edition.
During the pandemic, Baruch says 11E1even has “learned that we have to pivot on a dime and always be aware of exactly what’s going on – and also see 20 steps ahead.” If Live From Out There’s any indication, they’ll continue to do just that.
The Show That Changed Your Life?
I wouldn’t say there is an actual ‘show’ per say that changed my life, but at a very young age, I would go to an all-Black Baptist church with a lady that really helped raise me. From a young age, when my parents would leave town or when they were working long hours, I would be with her. So it was this interesting mix between being an Orthodox Jew that went to Synagogue on Saturdays with my parents, and then on Sundays would be brought to this church. Even though I was no older than 10, I remember how I felt listening to this gospel, seeing these incredible musicians play and knowing that I was feeling a feeling I had never felt before. I was in awe of those musicians, many of whom were related to the woman who looked after me. We would then go back to her house afterwards and I would just watch them play for hours. I knew back then that this was something I wanted to be a part of in some way.
Artists To Watch Breaking Next Year?
Keep an eye on Goose.
Best Advice You’ve Ever Received?
If you absolutely love what you do, work doesn’t feel like a job.
Best Live Show You Saw This Year?
The Brothers at MSG this past March. It was pretty much the day that things stated to go south for all of us due to coronavirus. I was there with my client, Oteil Burbridge, and seeing him play with the remaining members of The Allman Brothers, after only seeing him with Dead and Co. since we started working together, was awesome. The band was also so tight and well rehearsed – it was an incredible last show to see before concerts started to get canceled.
Your Favorite Venue To See A Show At And Why?
Red Rocks. There’s no venue that fully encompasses all the feelings you get by being there. The energy that you see from artists when they play there because of how excited they are to play such a special place, mixed with the energy from the audience that also give off a similar type of excitement and energy, and how beautiful of a setting it is – there’s no place like it.
Technology Most Impacting Your Daily Work Or Personal Life?
All of it.
The Role Of Livestreaming Moving Forward?
For us and our acts, I don’t think too much will change, except we may potentially stream special events or shows when the band is not on the road versus just going back to streaming their live performances. However, now that so many artists were/are forced to stream because of these current times, I think more artists will see the benefit of streaming more regular to not only reach a wider audience, but also because of the revenue they may be seeing.