City Soirée is SA’s crowdfunding site for live music, creatives

City Soiree 4

It’s a Tuesday night at the The South African Slave Church in Long Street, Cape Town where about 200 people gather to support trendy local artists Toya Delazy, Fever Trails and Nakhane Touré. The get-together is one of many driven by City Soireé, an initiative that’s been crowdfunding live music acts for the last three years across the country.

The concept of crowdfunding has stretched people’s imaginations — resulting in the funding of anything from freakishly popular potato salads to smart watches. It’s enabling creatives, entrepreneurs and social causes to find alternative channels to not only raise capital and exposure, but get people involved in things they really want to be a part of.

“In many ways we are not in the age of consumption any more, but rather an age of participation,” founder of City Soireé Gerhard Maree says. “If you give people the chance to participate then pretty amazing things can happen.”

While mainly focusing on music so far, City Soireé is responsible for about four such events per month, each attracting between 50 and 60 fans.

Read more: Crowdfunding site for social causes Ripple launches, hopes to ride success of Thundafund

The process is pretty simple. When the funding campaign reaches its guest and/or funding goal, the event is confirmed and will take place. Better yet, if the venue can hold more people than what the target is, City Soireé releases general tickets at a slightly higher price than the pledges.

A base fee from the pledges are split between the startup and the artists to ensure that a minimum is covered after which a profit share is worked out. “We don’t have a set percentage but rather look at each event individually,” the founder tells Ventureburn.

City Soiree 3

City Soirée grew out of monthly get-togethers that Maree and his friends had while he was doing his BA in Music. Back then, anyone could join and perform something or read poetry. “The only rule was that you had to bring a dish of food to share and enough wine to last the night,” he explains. “It ended up growing into small public events that I curated in unconventional venues.”

Maree notes that while the initiative has been becoming increasingly popular in the Mother City, he and his team has been putting more focus on Johannesburg and Pretoria this year. It’s also expanding to facilitate other events like food and lifestyle, or its #DepartmentOfEducation creative workshops. The latter invites participants to workshops on a wide range of subjects by exceptionally talented people.

The founder notes that the initiative’s exciting house concerts, called Secret Soirées, have also been doing exceptionally well. “We see this as a very real way to positively impact the music industry because of its growth potential into various cities and the income that artists can make from fairly low-cost events.”

Furthermore, the platform helps host what it calls Drawing Rooms, which is like bringing Cape Town’s renowned First Thursdays to your living room. “Turning someone’s home into an art gallery for a night is quite fun and people have really responded well to it. And bought a hell of a lot of art.”

City Soiree 6

Read more: Africa’s crowdfunding context: starting up startups the African way

Maree adds that his main aim has always been to find a sustainable funding model for the performing arts. Not only does crowdfunding help address entrenched issues within the music industry — such as risks and cash-flow — it fits with the startup’s goal of connecting the creators with communities.

“For us crowdfunding ties in with our goal of connecting the creators and the communities around them. It gives people a way to get involved more directly in projects that they want to see happen and it provides independent artists, producers, creators access to funding and a means to leverage their following,” Maree explains.

“We are part of the vanguard of a changing music industry and because we are essentially an enabling tool for others we can apply what we do to a wide range of industries.”

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Ventureburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.