Forty people gathered in a living room Dec. 16 for a sold-out "Closeup" house show featuring musical acts Cereus Bright, Andrea Marie of United Pursuit, and Katie Roach. Guests sat on the floor or milled around the dining room, where refreshments were provided.
Closeup, started by local residents Austin Church and Nathan Fray in December 2013, is a company aimed at providing fans with an intimate musical experience and musicians with the funds to continue creating.
The first Closeup house show was advertised on social media sites and required fans to purchase tickets before the address of the venue was disclosed on the day of the show.
Titled "Tell Your Mom She Was Wrong," the first post on Closeup's website outlines the project's mission to make "musician" a feasible career path.
"Somewhere along the way we all hear that you can't make a living as a musician or a writer or an artist," Church said. "If you're a highly creative person and want to pursue that, the idea is that you're going to have to prepare yourself to be poor, to just scrape by."
In reality, Church said, there is plenty of money in the live music industry. The problem, Fray said, is the "middle men" who restrict the flow of money to the musicians. Fray experienced this firsthand when his band, United Pursuit, sold 400 tickets at the Bijou at $25 per ticket and walked away without pay.
"The way we're thinking about the economics of house shows, if you can get 50 people to pay 20 dollars in advance, then the ticket pledges alone would account for $1,000," Church said. "If you throw in profit from merchandise, it's not a stretch to think that if the band could play 10 shows a month, they could make $36,000 a year each.
"And that's a livable income."
Fray said the role of the World Wide Web is pivotal in the success of this venture.
"We used online ticketing for this first house show and everyone has paid up front," Fray said. "This ensures that everyone will get paid a lot more fairly than just passing around a hat."