By now, there are few city dwellers who haven’t Twitter-stalked their favorite food truck or ravenously nabbed way too many cupcakes at a pop-up bakery. Pop-up retail is a growing trend that gives shoppers and diners the sense that they’ve stumbled upon something special, memorable, and exclusive. Now, a partnership between four Bay Area music start-ups and organizations is marrying the natural urgency—and fun—of pop-up culture with San Francisco’s thriving music scene.
This summer, Pop-up Concerts for a Cause will host at least 50 pop-up concerts to benefit five local nonprofits—with more than one hundred Bay Area musicians and bands ready to play in living rooms, backyards and at office parties. There’s word that one radio station might sponsor a pop-up concert on a busy sidewalk and air what ensues. On the opposite coast, New York’s YouNow, with a user base more than one million, will be hosting an online pop-up concert. Businesses like Couchsurfing.org, Switchcam.com and VonChurch are all hosting pop-up concerts at their offices this summer in San Francisco.
A collaboration between booking platform Hear It Local, Party Corps, Local Music Vibe and The Bay Area Music Collective, Pop-up Concerts for a Cause’s online platform allows anyone to sign up to host a pop-up concert. Event hosts can search musical acts by categories like genre, amplification needs, and performance type. You pick a date; pay the artist (or allow guests to chip in); choose a fundraising goal; and set a minimum donation per attendee. From the site, you can send out invites to your guests (friends, work colleagues, or neighborhood listserv).
For this summer’s concert pop-up concert series, the campaign partners have vetted and approved five causes to benefit from funds raised—LYRIC, WOMAN, Inc., 5 Gyres, City Youth Now, and Bread & Roses—and hosts can choose one or all to benefit from their pop-up concert. All of the selected causes will also be hosting their own pop-up concerts.
“The idea is to build community around this concept of music and philanthropy,” explained Leila Monroe, founder of Party Corps, which supports nonprofits through music-based events and media. Pop-up Concerts for a Cause will allow hosts to design their events however they like. “We’re just providing the entertainment and purpose.”
Certainly, the bands and musicians who have agreed to participate are doing so in the spirit of generosity. Says Matt Lombardi, CEO and co-founder of Hear It Local, “All of the artists who have opted into this program have agreed to play a concert benefit over the summer at $100, which is a major discount. It’s really their way to give back and participate in this philanthropic endeavor.”
Just as secret suppers and pop-up warehouse restaurants first took off in a few city centers then swept the nation, there are signs that this campaign will likewise spread. “We’re definitely planning to make this a national campaign over the next year,” says Lombardi. Hear It Local is in twenty markets and Lombardi encourages its growth: “Anyone who is interested in bringing this to their city—whether it is a nonprofit, a musician, or just a music fan—should absolutely contact Hear It Local, and me directly.” Apropos for pop-ups, for which it often helps to have the inside scoop—a hashtag, a friend of a friend—Lombardi offers his email address (matt [at] hearitlocal [dot] com) to the masses, hoping to springboard Pop-Up Concerts for a Cause into other cities.
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