Today I had an epiphany. Would you like me to tell you about it? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
I was working away in the morning as per usual. Googling email addresses for European venue names that I've found on other similar artists myspaces and emailing them for my European tour. It's a long slog. I'm up to about 4,000 venues now. I have to do it for all 50 countries. It's a slog - hardly anyone responds and when they do it's rarely good. And even if they do offer a date they hardly ever offer you a fee. And when you play the show no one will be there. Getting a venue is easier than getting an audience. Got the picture? This is the reality.
So I'm not in overly good spirits when I hear via the couchsurfing forum for Quebec City that I'd used to publicise tonight's show has been cancelled. Some people had called the venue for more information, and even though it's still listed on their website they say it's cancelled anyway.
As you might or might not know I find accommodation through the couchsurfing network every night. Venues don't usually provide it. People open their homes to you. It's a great network. I've met wonderful people and had great experiences. On the website you can join groups for each city and the locals plan events and meet-ups and I post my shows on these forums in advance to get people to come out.
Couchsurfers are a certain type of person. Usually well-travelled. Open-minded. Warm-hearted. In the states, I've yet to meet a Republican couchsurfer. If you have Republican values, the thought of letting a potentially dangerous stranger come into your home, eat your food and soil your sheets - without even charging them - is about the stupidest idea since universal healthcare.
Back to the story. Another person had responded in the discussion string that I could come back the next night and play to 40+ couchsurfers in the cafe where they usually have their meet-ups (on a Monday). He'd already spoken with the cafe owner and he'd be ok without. But unfortunately I'm booked in Montreal then. But I'm free Monday and could come back to play there meet-up. 40 super-friendly international couchsurfers would be a great audience.
I decide to drive to Quebec City and I'm on my way there now when a brainwave suddenly hit me. You probably see where I'm heading with this already, so I'll just spell it out. If couchsurfers are the best audiences and they already have meet-ups why am I spending hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours trying to get a venue interested in me and then asking the couchsurfers to come to my show? I should go to them. I've already been trying to get people to organise house concerts but many are reluctant to take on the responsibility of organising it.
The stupidly simple idea then is that I should have thought of a long time ago is a Couchsurfing tour of Europe. Each city has an 'ambassador' so I'll try them for a few cities and see if it works out - and if so then I'll just do that. They would be free shows but I'm sure I could sell enough CDs and have a hat for donations. I have a feeling it would work out much better than traditional venues. Watch this space.