Do you obsessively check your favorite bands' tour schedules, just to be crushed to learn they'll be hitting seemingly every corner of the nation except yours?
One Web site's latest feature can fill you in on when your favorite acts will be where — and even help make them come rock your town. Eventful.com began as an event listing service in September 2005, but the recent addition of its "Eventful Demand" function is helping the masses have a hand in event booking.
"When Eventful started, some people wanted an events wish list, kind of like the Amazon.com wish list," said Brian Dear, founder and chairman of EVDB Inc. (Events and Venues Database), which supports Eventful.com. "But the idea of creating a wish list when there's very little likelihood of fulfillment of the wishes seemed pretty lame. It was like if you made a list of all the events that you would love to go to but they'll never come about — it's depressing.
"So the idea behind Demand is that it's not good enough just to build a list of your favorite wished-for events, you've got to build a whole set of tools to enable people to work together and cause the event, kind of force it into being," he added.
The idea for Eventful Demand originated in 1999 when Dear worked for online music resource MP3.com. Jokingly referring to it as "battle of the fans," Dear aspired to pit cities against each other as they vied for a band's attention, with the ultimate goal being that the performer would agree to a show in whichever city sparked the most support.
Although it's only a few months old and still in its beta phase, Demand has already accumulated 4,000 requests. It works like this: A user can create a demand for a band, author or any type of event in a particular locality. Once support for the demand reaches a specific "critical mass" number, Eventful will act as an online agent and approach the performer with the request. The site keeps users updated as to whether or not the artist has agreed to the gig, as well as the details of the scheduled event if all goes according to plan.
And there's proof that Eventful can work: A campaign on the site by Bostonians convinced actor/author/celebrity blogger Wil Wheaton to set up a book reading and signing that drew more than 200 people. Current demands include requests for former "American Idol" stars Constantine Maroulis, Anthony Fedorov and Kimberley Locke, as well as multi-culti funk band Ozomatli, pop folkie Ben Jelen and electro-rock outfit Mute Math.
Dear admits that for now, the site would require thousands of demands to draw arena-level acts such as U2, so in the meantime Eventful has become a haven for indie and up-and-coming acts.
And while MySpace may be the best way for undiscovered bands to get noticed, Eventful is emerging as a handy source for bands to gauge interest and identify key fanbases. Many artists are beginning to direct traffic to Eventful via their MySpace pages in an effort to expand their exposure and use it as a guide when setting up gigs.
Similar to MySpace, the site also features some social-networking tools, such as the ability to post a picture, leave comments about demands and join groups. But rather than encouraging dating or debating, Eventful provides tools so users can discover events through friends, family members and contacts that share their interests. Dear points out that it makes a lot more sense — and saves time — for users to plan an activity for the weekend by exploring what people they know may be doing, rather than by conducting a search on other events sites that may yield 10,000 results.
These community-building tools also help to connect users in cities that are lobbying for the same band or artist. And, if successful, these online demand campaigns could benefit everyone from the fans to the artist to the promoters — it's a potential win-win-win situation for everyone involved.
"If the fans are gathering and enlisting 10,000 people to sign up in a given city, they are, themselves, the promoter," Dear said. "It changes the economics of how events are put on, and it's our hope that there's more profit and less cost because of the reduction in advertising costs, and that performers can get a bigger chunk."