Irish band The Script have opened for U2 and appeared on CNN, but they made their TV debut on Stephen O’ Regan’s balcony in Dublin.
O’ Regan runs BalconyTV, a home-made TV show in which new bands perform on apartment balconies from Mexico to New Zealand. The company just pitched at Startup Bootcamp’s investor day in Copenhagen.
“One day in my apartment in Dublin about 5 years ago we had the silly idea to start doing an Internet show from our apartment balcony,” says O’ Regan. “I had come out of film school and I’d already made a film that had become quite successful on Youtube. We wanted to have a new show every single day so we started inviting local bands to perform on our balcony. Very quickly we were being contacted by bands all over Ireland who wanted to play on our balcony.”
Now BalconyTV operates in 22 cities all over the world and has been contacted by potential hosts in over 100 cities. The resulting 6,000 original music videos have been viewed over 3 million times.
BalconyTV hosts are all volunteers, although they may seek local sponsorship. “We give people a document saying ‘This is the structure of the show, these are the opening graphics that you need,’ ” O’ Regan explains. “We invite them to do a few test shows. If the test shows are good enough we give them a license to produce. They must commit to producing a certain number of shows per week.”
Despite its underground success, BalconyTV doesn’t currently make money. O’ Regan is keen to change that. The first step is to establish a centralized production team to maintain quality and package all the content. “We would like to develop our content, package it in a number of formats and license it to TV stations around the world. We also want to sell the rights to create BalconyTV to broadcasters,” he says.
A BalconyTV merchandising site is being launched but the real money is in sponsorship of the show by big brands and in selling the content and format to TV stations. BalconyTV plans to license to 200 TV stations in the next 2 years.
There are a couple of similar shows around the world like the UK’s Black Cab Sessions and France’s Takeaway Shows. Neither operates in more than one country as BalconyTV does, and both shows focus on emerging artists rather than complete unknowns.
BalconyTV was founded in 2008, is based in Dublin (or as O’Regan says “It’s based on my laptop”), has a team of 3 supplemented by 100 volunteers worldwide, and is privately funded.
Startup Bootcamp funded the travel and accommodation required for this story.