Sol Development performs Airbnb Concert hosted by Zoo Labs of Oakland

Since its inception 10 years ago, Airbnb has changed the face of lodging, offering  4.5 million listings for short-term rent in 81,000 cities worldwide. Now Airbnb has its sights set on live music. The company is offering concerts for small audiences in unconventional places.

In November 2016, Airbnb expanded beyond accommodations when it launched its Trips platform, offering about 500 experiences in 12 cities.

“Our company does much more than homes. We offer end-to-end trips. That’s our vision, to create trips that are magical and easy and part of it includes experiences,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said. “The main reason you travel is not to sleep in another country. It is to experience that other country, that other culture, that other community.”

Experiences are activities, classes, and day trips in the areas of music, arts, nature, food and drink, sports, and more. In Airbnb style, these experiences are curated and hosted by local experts and can be booked by travelers. Examples include olive oil tasting in Florence, samurai swordplay in Tokyo, surfing Australia’s Byron Bay, macaron making in Paris, rumba dancing in Havana, and enjoying a rhythm-roots Afrohaus brunch in Inglewood, CA.

Since the launching of Trips, music has become one of Airbnb’s most-booked categories, with concerts across genres taking place around the globe.

“Music is inherently cultural and has been very popular on our platform. It crosses borders and generations,” said Joe Zadeh, Airbnb’s vice president of Trips.

Afrohaus brunch hosted by The.WAV through Airbnb

During a keynote speech in San Francisco on February 23, Zadeh outlined goals and changes for Airbnb experiences. He said by 2017, Airbnb offered 5,000 experiences in 60 cities. Then he announced that the company plans to offer experiences in even more locations.

“This year we are going to expand to 1,000 cities,” Zadeh said. “We are going to cover every major destination by the end of 2018, including less-traveled destinations like Easter Island, Iceland, and Tasmania.”

Airbnb also announced that it is increasing its realm of experiences by adding new categories: Airbnb Concerts, Social Dining, and Adventures. It is also expanding Social Impact experiences which are activities hosted by nonprofit organizations. Airbnb does not collect fees from nonprofit hosts.

Airbnb Concerts are live performances and special music sessions that foster an intimate connection between artists and music fans. These immersive live shows are for audiences of 50 to 100 people and are held in small unexpected settings. Examples include folk night at a yurt in London, soul music at a speakeasy in Los Angeles, a secret jazz gig in Prague, a roots show in a Brooklyn cathedral.

Brooklyn Roots: Cathedral Concert through Airbnb

“Airbnb concerts only happen in unique venues. It could be a wine cellar. It could be a recording studio,” Zadeh said. “We have hundreds of concerts happening every month and by the end of the year we are going to be having over 20,000 guests every month go to a concert. That is the size of Madison Square Garden except everyone has a front row seat.”

Airbnb currently has 15 listings for concerts in San Francisco alone, including two dates in April to see the rap-cabaret artist Boyfriend at Eristavi Winery in the Mission District.

Tickets for Airbnb Concerts generally cost $20 to $35. They often feature local and emerging singers and bands, giving them exposure and the opportunity to make some money. Zadeh said artists can earn between $150 and $1,000 per show.

Airbnb

Zoo Labs is a nonprofit artist development community in West Oakland that provides creative and entrepreneurial advancement programs. The nonprofit has hosted five shows using the Airbnb platform which raised about $6,000 and fostered connections to potential new donors. Bay Area artists that have performed with Zoo Labs as host include Los Rakas, Sol Development, Crashing Hotels, and Catch Prichard.

“The biggest thing we get out of our relationship with Airbnb is awareness and opportunities for our artists to perform,” said Brad Dollar, head of music and programs at Zoo Labs.

The Zoo Labs facility fits Airbnb’s venue requirements, as it has an audience cap of 60 people. It is a recording studio with vast equipment, dazzling lighting, and impeccable sound, all of which make for a grand space to see a show.

“We get a lot of feedback that people have never experienced music this good, this close before,” Dollar said. “Many creative collaborators are looking for situations that echo the feeling of intimate music discovery those shows provide. This has been a great way for us to expand our network as others seek to find the same kind of experience and opportunity from us.”

In addition to supporting up-and-coming artists, Airbnb has already partnered with established musicians who have used the platform.

“Some famous artists have also taken note of our concerts. The band Arizona is playing a multiple-day residency in London. They usually play in front of thousands of people but they love our format because it helps them connect with their fanbase,” Zadeh said. “Vance Joy has over a billion streams on Spotify and he is playing an entire tour that is a social impact tour. That means we take no fees and everything goes to charity.”

Airbnb is planning a series of shows featuring “one of the most recognizable faces in music.” Stay tuned for who the Grammy-winning performer will be.

“It will sell out very quickly so it is also important to say that in the future we will be reserving seats for our Superguests,” Zadeh said. “We will give priority access to some of these very magical shows to our Superguests.”

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