November 4, 1991. I was a student at Northwestern University working as a production assistant at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill., where Bob Dylan was playing. It was the first show I ever worked on. I remember carrying ice to Bob’s dressing room before he got to the venue. Later, when he was on stage, I was struck by how the music unified the crowd. People of different ages, backgrounds and walks of life all tied together in a single moment.
It was a scene that stuck with me and would continue to make an impact throughout my career.
My first Grateful Dead show, at Giants Stadium the next year, was a life-changing experience. I was energized by both the music and the community surrounding the band, a feeling that eventually turned me into a Deadhead. After seeing the Dead again at Rosemont Horizon, I decided to go on the road and make a documentary film called “And Miles To Go: On Tour with The Grateful Dead.” While making that film I met countless passionate fans, making connections that have inspired and shaped me ever since.
In 1996, I was given the opportunity to take over the great New York rock club, Wetlands Preserve. Wetlands was a venue that had its challenges, but it became a gathering place for music fans of so many genres, including jam bands, hip hop and rock. Wetlands was the type of place that would host punk shows at night and then hold a ska gig the next afternoon. Though fans of different bands might have looked vastly different, they were ultimately all the same, drawn together by artists and their music. At the end of the day, everyone was looking for the same thing -- a place to call home.
Since then I have helped create venues and projects such as Brooklyn Bowl, the LOCKN’ festival, and the Fare Thee Well shows, as well as relaunching the Capitol Theatre and Relix Magazine. Spending time in different facets of the music industry, I have learned that a sense of community is at the center of it all, essential to making everything work. Venues don’t function if people don’t feel at home -- that’s why the security guards at Brooklyn Bowl have “Welcome” instead of “Security” on their jackets. We want people to feel a part of it. “It” can be a bit hard to describe, but it’s something that each of us can feel. It’s the moment the band takes the stage and the room feels like it’s about to explode. It’s the connection you feel to those around you in a room packed full of strangers. It’s the energy in the air when the crowd calls for an encore.
While that feeling of community is a vital part of the live music experience, it is glaringly absent online. The current digital fan experience is all over the place. Artist news, event databases, touring information, fan communities and music streaming exist in separate silos, with no true place for fans to congregate. Because of this fragmentation, meaningful memories and connections are often lost. The morning after Robert Plant played at Brooklyn Bowl on Oct. 9, 2014, I woke up at 6AM and grabbed my phone to search for photos and reviews of the show, but couldn’t find anything. Facebook, Instagram and other platforms are great, but they weren’t developed specifically for us as fans. There hasn’t been a good way for people to share their experiences, love of music and the shows that they have seen. There hasn’t been a way to easily find those sick photos and powerful words describing how Robert Plant killed “Going to California.”
With FANS, now there is.
FANS is an online community for you to embrace your passion for live music, celebrate your personal concert history, discover new experiences and connect with like-minded fans. Whether you’re a seasoned concertgoer or a casual listener, music provides a powerful path to happiness, community and memory. FANS is an open forum for self-expression and new discoveries for music-lovers of all stripes. FANS is the place I would have liked to have been able to go after seeing Dylan and the Grateful Dead perform all those years ago.
We all seek that sense of belonging, and the awesome team we’ve assembled at FANS shares a passion and commitment to building a home for fans everywhere. Together, we’ve created something great, something we are really proud of — and we want you to join us to see for yourself. Build your concert history, follow your favorite artists, find new shows and start making new friends. We have tons of great content to explore today, and with your help FANS will become a place for our most powerful memories to live forever.
Welcome to FANS. Welcome home.