Off Axis is a new touring network which Un-Convention hopes will help artists tour further afield to guaranteed audiences.
Founded in 2008, Un-Convention takes best practice models from independent music networks around the world and applying them in new places. Their new touring network, Off Axis, uses a centralised website to allow artists to ‘trade’ gigs with each other.
A gig swap network for the bit coin era
Gig swapping isn’t new. But Off Axis takes it in a new direction. It’s about give and take. Members of the network earn credits by adding artists from elsewhere to the line up of their hometown gigs, and then redeem them by securing guest slots on line ups in other locations. So, a band from, say, Manchester hosts a band from Glasgow, and as a result goes on to play in Brighton.
The initial inspiration for the network came a few years ago, off the back of the events they’d been running. As Jeff explains, “Wherever we held events, or went to talk at conferences, whether that be in Belfast, Edinburgh or Groningen, the most common problem put forward by the artists was ‘how can we play further afield?’ There’s bands we’ve worked with that are truly brilliant, and have great local fan-bases, but they find it almost impossible to get a show even 20 or 30 miles away”.
Jeff’s aim through Off Axis is to make touring more viable for grass roots artists, and through that to help more artists to make a living from live performance.
So how what difference did being part of Joining the Dots make to Off Axis’s development?
“Although we already had some funding to develop a prototype, support from Joining the Dots allowed us to supplement this with additional development that meant we could go to market with a much more robust and viable product. As such, the site as it stands is fully functioning (rather than just a prototype) and is enabling artists from over 50 towns and cities to trade audiences with one another.
It’s also enabled us to build a brilliant community of artists for this first phase of Off Axis. We’ve been able to meet up with artists, promoters and venues across the length and breadth of the country, as well as attend and run panels, events and roadshows in places such as Cornwall, Edinburgh, Wrexham, Brighton, Norwich, Hull, Blackburn, Liverpool, Dumfries, Newcastle, London, Southampton, Preston, Derby, Hastings, Manchester, Bristol, Chester, Leeds, Stoke, Inverness and Birmingham.
In addition, the programme has enabled us to reflect on how we are working, and has also introduced us to numerous contacts and networks that have proved useful as we develop. We’ve been able to introduce Off Axis to the likes of the Musicians Union who we will look to work with going forward, as well as key industry organisations such as Drowned In Sound. Similarly at the One Dayer Conferences we have been able to present the idea to the wider industry, meet relevant people and organisations, and significantly bolster our network.
Equally important has been the opportunity to meet and share experiences with the other projects funded by JTD. Although the individual projects varied, it was very helpful to be able to share experiences and bounce ideas off peers who where facing similar challenges in many regards. The extended presence of The Hub at events such as The Great Escape has proved of benefit to us – helping to spread the idea, but also instilling a confidence in what we are trying to achieve.