Two music fans have started a new project which they hope might revolutionse the South African live music industry. Inspired by an American crowd-funding campaign, Sea Point’s Richard Theunissen and Stuart Walsh from Parklands recently launched their website Inbound Sound. In a nutshell, the website gives music fans the opportunity to request the artists they want to see live in their city. “Stuart and I are big fans of the Foo Fighters,” Richard explains. “We got wind of a concert that was crowd-funded in America two years ago and that was before it was announced that they would be coming to South Africa.” At that stage, crowd funding was still a relatively new concept, and although it’s grown generally on a global scale, Richard points out that it’s still “relatively new” in SA.“People are a little sceptical. Generally the first question they ask is: ‘Why do we need to give our money away first?’, and it’s understandable.” Richard explains that he and Stuart see their role in the industry as educators on the benefits of crowdfunding while empowering fans to “make concerts happen”. He says many music fans seem to be frustrated with not being able to see their favourite acts live. Inbound Sound allows fans to request a concert by any artists, across genres, whether they are local or international, commercial or lesser-known. Once a concert has been requested, Richard and Stuart, working with industry insiders, calculate how much would need to be raised to set the concert up and the show is opened to pledges from other fans who may also want to see the show. Fans who pledge a contribution to the concert have essentially already bought their tickets and once enough funds have been raised, Richard and Stuart will work with promotors to bring the act to local shores. “We are basically just providing the platform.” Should they not be able to raise the funds needed, fans will be able to get a full refund, making sure they don’t pay for a show they won’t see. “The feedback we’ve received [so far] has been phenomenal, and that’s very encouraging – we’re on to something that people want.” While many of the shows already requested on the website are for international acts, Richard says: “We’re big on local music.”In fact, they’re hoping their first “success story” will be staging a show for a local act. “The local music scene, both mainstream and niche, is massive, and we want to tap into that.” The duo are already in talks with local artists and while Richard says it may take a couple of months to get the first concert off the ground, “once that first concert has happened its basically going to revolutionise where and when artists play locally”. Because they are dealing with “other people’s money”, Stuart and Richard were very focused on making sure that “everything was above board” and as transparent and open as possible when they created the website. Users need to log in to the site before making pledges and Richard assures that shows won’t be left on a site indefinitely. If a proposed concert hasn’t gained momentum after a few months, they’ll take the show off and refund the users who have pledged. Users can also request a refund at any point, should their personal financial situations change. “We’re not looking to take advantage.” Richard also stresses that Inbound Sound’s core function is to be a crowd funding site. They want to work with promotors and venues, but have no aspirations of taking over their roles. Inbound Sound’s role rather, is giving fans a voice and a choice “Historically they’ve never had a say,” he says of the acts who travel to South Africa. “All you need is a lot of people with the same idea.” For more information about Inbound Sound, to request a concert, or to see which concerts are open for pledges, visit www.inboundsound.co.za.