Better Than The Van and Hello A Show


Indie Ambassador Resources Better Than The Van Todd Hansen

Let a band stay at your place and maybe they'll make you breakfast / turn into Keith Richards the next morning!

Touring as a burgeoning musician is financially challenging, especially in today’s economy. Imagine if you could tour while sleeping under a roof for free, and build your industry network while you’re at it. Thanks to Todd Hansen’s Better Than The Van, it’s actually quite easy. Think Couchsurfing for musicians. Thanks to the straight-forward user interface and a growing network, completing a nationwide tour and not spending your entire budget on lodging is now more possible than ever.

But creating just one tool to benefit independent musicians wasn’t enough for Todd, so he recently launched what he’s coined a “Craigslist for musicians,” Hello A Show.  This site allows a transparent connection between gig-hungry bands and venues looking for bands to fill their open slots. We caught up with Todd to get the details on these services — check out what he had to say below, and let us know if you have any experience with either in the comments! Are there enough sign ups in major music markets for bands to be able to tour and find shelter using BTTV alone?

TH: We have a strong/robust community so it is possible. Most bands use BTTV to supplement the connections they already have in those cities or if they are venturing to new places it’s a great place to find new people who are involved in music or just great music fans. How do bands know whom they’re staying with can be trusted? Does BTTV provide a space for bands to leave references for hosts on the site?

Indie Ambassador Resources Todd Hansen Better Than The Van Hello A Show

TH: We have a comment system in place that allows for some self governing of the site. Plus a way to report bad hosts. We do kind of leave it in the hands of the bands to figure out if it’s a good situation for them. BTTV is pretty particular so if you sign up and host bands you usually know what’s going on. Likewise, if you’re a touring band you usually have a pretty good “radar” in terms of…”whoa, shit this house is full of cats…we’re not staying here at all!”. What should bands take into consideration when choosing a host?

TH: Do your research. Everyone has a pretty good “social profile” out there across sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, Instagram…if the band takes a little time to check it out, they’ll be good. Plus we allow everyone to put links in their profiles out to other sites/services they have a presences on. Other than free shelter, what else can bands get out of using BTTV?

TH: Connections in new cities with other like minded people who are involved in music or just die hard music fans. It’s a great common ground, and usually everyone is very helpful. Meaning if they need a great vegan place to get a meal, that can be found. Or if they need more info on a venue or promoter they can poke around and find that too. What’s in it for the hosts? Any creative methods you know of for bands thanking their hosts? Free concert tickets or maybe some autographed merch?

TH: It’s usually merch, tickets to shows, cleaning the house, buying groceries for meals…it’s just being authentic and cool to the people who take a day (or less) out of their lives to support art.

Indie AMbassador Resources Todd Hansen Better Than The Van Hello A Show You guys just launched another pretty innovative service, Hello A Show. Can you give us a quick rundown of how it works?

TH: It’s a side project of mine. It’s simple. It’s like craigslist for bands and venues. Venues/bookers/promoters send in show opportunities and once a week we send them out to bands who sign up. The shows are not guaranteed, but it puts bands in a place that they’re aware of the opportunities and then they follow up with the venue to see if they can play the show. Is there any fee for using Hello A Show?

TH: Nope. It’s free. We sell sponsorships in the emails to fund the effort. From the venue’s perspective, why is Hello A Show so important? Can venues filter what types of bands receive notice of their openings?

TH: It’s important in that those who book are under a massive time crunch so they have nights or slots they need to fill. We allow them to cast a wide net of bands in their city or bands that are touring that may need to fill a night. We do a lot of leg work in that regard. In the future the service will get more detailed and robust but right now everyone sees the same shows and every band who signs up can hit up the venues for those shows. Any other service plans in the future you can tell us about?

TH: Definitely. We know the more detailed and targeted we can get the better for everyone. It’s still an experiment that is really catching on so look for more “features” in the coming months. There’s so much data out there about bands, we want to give that to venues. Like wise we want to show bands the shows that are the best fit for what they do. It’s all coming…eventually.

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