Courtesy of NoCap – Donavon Frankenreiter
Donavon Frankenreiter performs at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, Calif., and streaming via NoCap, a venue-based service.
Musicians Cisco Adler and Donavon Frankenreiter were talking on the phone in March as the coronavirus was reaching pandemic state, realizing live shows weren’t coming back any time soon and tired of seeing livestreamed shows done with cellphones by artists from their couches and in pajamas.
So they did what creative entrepreneurs do: They brainstormed a business model to adapt to the times; one that serves artists, venues and fans. A few more phone calls, to friends including Jimmy Buffett (who will perform at a date to be announced), drummed up support and a business was born.
“Donavon hit me originally with the idea to make an app that he could monetize a home livestream,” Adler tells Pollstar. “He, like I, was sick of these homestreams but more importantly was not into giving his art and content to Instagram and Facebook for free. I had been thinking a lot about the same stuff and couldn’t watch one more of these.”
Adler realized the current livestream efforts weren’t looking at the problem from “a holistic perspective, or seizing the moment to be something useful after the pandemic.”
As a venue owner, Adler was able to put on that hat and suggest they look at the question from a different vantage point.
The result is NoCap, a venue-based streaming and promotion platform that brings together partner venues and artists to present one-time-only, full-production concerts that makes use of text-based ticketing and merch stores, among other things. The goal is to bring venue concerts to global audiences, as well as support venues, artists and crews.
“It seemed like a great moment to seize rather than to capitalize on,” Adler says. “Whereas I think some of the other people out there are trying to capitalize on either ‘While you’re waiting, let’s try to make some money’ or capitalize on artists who are in need. We saw it a different way: how does this moment become the next evolution of disrupting music?
“We saw it in streaming on the recording side and there was definitely a segment of the recording industry that shied away from it and a segment that kind of leaned into it. We know that it’s been extremely successful and it’s here to stay. In a similar way, this moment when an audience is being forced to experience something a certain way, we can provide a premium, awesome product that when they do experience it they come away with the enthusiasm that we’ve been seeing.”
NoCap launched last month with Frankenreiter playing shows from the stage of the Belly Up Tavern. A show is in the works with Buffett, and others with artists including Wallows, Iration, Toots & The Maytals, The Score, Midland, Common Sense, Pepper, Cypress Hill and more to be announced.
They’ll perform from stages of intimate venues including Colorado’s Belly Up Aspen as well as the Solano Beach outpost, Roxy Theater (which Adler co-owns) in West Hollywood, Analog Nashville, Wescott Theater in Syracuse, N.Y., and Soho Club in Santa Barbara, Calif. More will be added. All will be staged with state of the art sound and lighting, using (and paying) the same crews who would work the same shows were they in front of live audiences.
They put together a company advisory board that includes Buffett, Lou Adler (Cisco’s dad and founder of the Roxy), Colemon Sisson (Bubble Up), Ryan Graves (Uber), Matt Graham (BRND Management), Ross Gerber (Gerber Kawasaki), Jon Bradford (Colab) and artist manager Ian Montone, and got to work.
A key goal, according to Adler and Frankenreiter, is to provide a revenue stream and data collection that the participants control, as opposed to a Facebook or Instagram model that doesn’t share information or enable engagement between artist and audience. In this way, venues and crews share the revenue.
Frankenreiter explains why wresting control of his content from Facebook and Instagram is so important. “I have something like 560,000 followers on Instagram. If I do a post, maybe 1,500 see it unless I pay to promote that post. I feel like, it’s a bummer but I’d rather have 10,000 phone numbers of people who saw that NoCap show.
“I’m just trying to build my virtual fanbase up to 5,000 people. If I can get 5,000 people together for one show a month, every month, and make that an event and a moment for those people, I can still make a living in the music industry doing what I love to do which is playing live. It’s about the quality of the show that you’re performing for people who just want to see a great show and be texted a ticket. While they are in there, the other amazing thing is that bands can curate their own store.”
Belly Up Tavern owner Steve Goldberg adds, “Not knowing when we’ll be able to provide concerts for a live audience at any capacity, we’re exploring other avenues for doing business at the Belly Up. Live streaming is the best alternative we’ve found, especially with a turn-key solution like NoCap. We are forging a relationship with cisco and NoCap to do as many shows as we can together.”
In addition to the club shows, Sublime With Rome and G. Love & Friends are using the platform to stream drive-in style shows Aug. 7 and 10, respectively. The next club show is Pepper & Friends at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. For more information, go to the NoCap website.