This post is an in-depth look at my new website GEOclubbing – primarily intended for friends, industry promoters, competitors, and press. Check out the tour to get the gist of the site, and the promoter guide will quickly explain how to get your event published on GEOclubbing.
Let’s start with some assumptions. Let’s assume that we both cherish our clubbing experiences – topping off a great week with a spectacular night out. There’s nothing better than being surrounded by quality people, having just the right amount of buzz, arriving at just the right time, and feeling the tingle of each goosebump as we reverently approach the dance floor. Let’s also assume that we’re both experienced enough clubbers that when seeking out event info, we can skip the magazine chatter and get down to business – event times, venues, promoters, genres, photos, and guest lists are all we need to know. And finally, let’s assume that we’re both on-the-go people who want a fast and simple clubbing lowdown for any given night, and don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every time we’re in a new city.
If you follow me so far, and take a moment to check out what’s available, I think you’d agree that the clubbing guide we should have is far from reality. This is why on August 23rd I’ll be launching GEOclubbing as a first step toward this ideal – initially serving Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Sydney – with all global cities to follow.
Current State of Play
Before elaborating, let’s do a reality check: how does a clubbing guide actually work, and how is it possible to achieve such wide coverage in a short time while maintaining the highest level of quality? In the case of GEOclubbing – which is 100% events-focused – we somehow need to obtain all information that’s inside an event organiser’s mind and get that out to the public. Traditionally, this has meant clubbing guides would spend enormous resources establishing relationships with nightlife players within their city, and then lobby them to create listings for each and every party (or even worse, manually creating listings on behalf of promoters.) Until recently, this was the only game in town… so what’s changed? In a word: Facebook. Like so many other things in life, Facebook has dramatically changed the distribution of clubbing event information over the past couple of years. Today, for the vast majority of the world, if a clubbing event doesn’t have a Facebook listing, it might as well not be happening.
So Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, and every current and future clubbing guide needs to accept this reality. But so far, most established guides haven’t done much to adapt, instead maintaining their relevance by relying on Facebook’s key weakness: there’s no easy way to view all club listings for a particular city on a given night, even though Facebook contains most of the information needed to create such a view. Hence, existing clubbing guides can still credibly make the case to promoters that they should create a second (or third) listing for the same event on the guides’ more public websites, in addition to the primary listing on Facebook. This kind of works, but creates unnecessary friction for the party organizers, inconsistent event listings for clubbers, and many organisers are simply avoiding the hassle altogether by using Facebook as their sole promotional channel.
A Different Approach
As you might have guessed, I think I know a better way. With GEOclubbing, every single event listed on the site comes directly from Facebook. All updates made by the promoter, and all RSVPs made by clubbers, are automatically synced between Facebook and GEOclubbing. This requires no time, effort, or cost on the part of event organisers, and allows anyone to get a fast and simple overview of all clubbing events with just a few clicks. In other words, GEOclubbing complements Facebook’s ability to answer “What are my friends doing tonight?” by using the same information to answer “Show me all Trance events in Amsterdam next weekend.”
See for yourself:
More specifically, GEOclubbing uses the Facebook Platform to follow hundreds of venues and promoters within each city, check their Facebook pages for new events several times per day, and then combine all of their events into a fast and simple layout that anyone can view. We also do a few extra things along the way such as merging duplicate listings, ranking venues and promoters based on their RSVPs, and embedding audio/video into event listings which contain a link to Soundcloud, YouTube, etc. (A complete explanation of this process is forthcoming in the promoter guide.)
Why It’s Better
At the end of the day, all that really matters is providing the best possible information for clubbers, but I believe that infusing Facebook into the creation of GEOclubbing provides several key advantages:
GEOclubbing takes on one city at a time, launching with complete coverage, and won’t expand until that city is totally up to snuff (which includes having a system in place to quickly identify new venues and promoters as they arise). Facebook makes this possible because we don’t need to have personal relationships with all the event organisers; we only need to pick our next city and then methodically find all of the relevant content on Facebook. This is in stark contrast to sites like Resident Advisor (currently the closest thing to a global clubbing guide) which rely upon promoters coming to them to create event listings. Although well-intentioned, RA’s approach leads to a lot of clutter on their site because if a random promoter from Mongolia wants to create an event, the site has to maintain a presence for that country even though future events will be few and far between. So in reality, except for Western Europe and a handful of other cities where they’re strong, RA’s coverage is very diffuse and not giving clubbers the best possible information for most of their coverage areas.
A Clearer Picture
The vast scale of Facebook within the clubbing community not only allows GEOclubbing to provide better event listings than all competitors, but we can highlight the most popular events using the RSVPs of all Facebook clubbers, not just people who happen to connect with our site. If you were to check out the average event listing at Sydney’s inthemix, you’d see that most events don’t have any RSVPs listed, and those that do are usually no more than “10 members going”. Even for large events like the upcoming Defqon.1 festival, they only have 25 RSVPs at present, while on GEOclubbing there are 3,812 RSVPs based on 4 different Facebook listings for the festival. Because GEOclubbing can leverage the Facebook RSVPs from tens of thousands of clubbers in each city, we don’t have to rely on our personal biases to highlight the best events – we simply convey what the clubbers are already saying. And we also use the same RSVPs to highlight the most popular clubs and promoters – using facts instead of hype. (And in case you’re wondering, details of how we protect the privacy of clubbers can be found in our plain-English privacy info.)
Assuming that organisers continue to rely upon Facebook to promote their events, and that we don’t make too many mistakes along the way, there’s not much that can prevent GEOclubbing from publishing the best clubbing content. We don’t need to attract an audience before convincing promoters to list their events, our cultural/geographic/language barriers are only slight, and because our update process is almost completely automatic, you don’t have to worry that an event won’t get posted because we’re hungover from last night’s party. Facebook allows us to break the “unvirtuous cycle” that’s hurting most of our competitors: clubbers spend more and more time on Facebook, promoters use Facebook more as a result, and clubbers visit independent guides even less because of their diminishing quality. There’s still much we have to do before earning the trust of clubbers, but lack of quality content will never hold back GEOclubbing.
Everything about GEOclubbing has been designed to provide fast and simple information for clubbers, but we understand that some of these changes might catch a few industry players off guard: “You’re going to publish my event info without asking, and then use it to rank me?!?! I don’t think so!”
It’s so far unclear how common this view will be, and how many people will instead enjoy the additional exposure without any cost on their part. But either way, GEOclubbing is seriously committed to engaging with all event promoters listed on the site, and exploring ways to make their lives easier while always helping clubbers.
I’ll be personally contacting every promoter and venue leading up to our Aug 23rd launch, and continuing to reach out to all players as we add features and expand globally. But anyone is always welcome to email me regarding any aspect of GEOclubbing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for taking time to read.
Update, 12 Oct 2011: After contacting hundreds of clubbing promoters, I haven’t heard any complaints about GEOclubbing resyndicating event info without prior consent. Several dozen promoters were actually quite thankful for the added simplicity. But I’ll still be contacting every promoter that I can and listening to their points of view.