Rickshaw Stop is the former TV studio, now mid sized venue located at 155 Fell Street in San Francisco. Opening in January 2004, Rickshaw Stop presents an average of four to five shows a week, featuring a mixture of local Bay Area bands, touring artists and even San Francisco Nerd Nite and MOTH StorySLAM events. The venue, whose name was coined from the co-founders’ observations of rickshaws in Asia, has hosted popular bands and artists such as Vampire Weekend, M.I.A. and Sam Smith.
In 2004, the iTunes store and Myspace were in their infancy, Facebook had just started but was only open to certain universities, and smartphones, SoundCloud, Spotify and Twitter were still a few years away. Much in the digital and social media space as well as the music industry has changed since then and I spoke with Rickshaw Stop managing partner/ talent buyer Dan Strachota to see if this has changed how he books shows and how the Rickshaw Stop operates.
Since you started booking artists at the Rickshaw Stop until now, what have been the biggest changes with artists in the evolving digital/ social media age and how you book them? Do social media numbers mean anything?
Dan Strachota: “Right now there is more access to music, live video performances and information about the artist/band and credible music blogs’ reviews and recommendations are important for artists. As far as social media numbers, they are not a factor in booking an artist due to the numbers could be fake. When it comes to booking (local acts) it is still based a lot on suggestions from other club owners and the word of mouth and buzz from fans and for booking out-of-town touring artists it is best to deal with booking agents.”
How does Rickshaw Stop promote shows nowadays?
Dan Strachota: “Rickshaw Stop primarily promotes shows on their website, Twitter, and Facebook. Rickshaw Stop rarely uses paper publications to promote shows anymore but paper fliers will sometimes be used.”
Although the way music is discovered, listened to and shared has changed with technology, there is one constant with the Bay Area and most any live music scene and that is great music and amazing artist performances are going to get an artist or band well-known and established.
After 10 years, Rickshaw Stop has become a favorite for live music lovers due to its great sound, great party themes, intimacy and proximity to the stage, and drink specials (most nights there is a drink devoted to the artist or band playing). The local Bay Area and especially the San Francisco music scene has seen it’s ups and lately it seems downs. With the price of living here constantly on the rise, musicians are finding it harder to focus solely on music and build a following but substantial and dynamic venues like Rickshaw Stop can help. If you are a band or artist in the Bay Area and are interested in performing at Rickshaw Stop, start by visiting http://www.rickshawstop.com/booking_bands and fill out the online form then go check out a show there.