Tech Review: Better Than The Van

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Better Than The Van is a social-based music service for touring artists. While the site provides many features, the main tool, as the name would imply, is to help bands find places to stay while they’re on tour. Kind of like a cross between Airbnb and Eventbrite.

When you first sign up, you can create a page for your band, venue, or find places to stay and shows near you.

When you create a band page, you can link your band website and also your pages on Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook, and you can even embed a SoundCloud player. (Though, kind of annoyingly, you have to enter full URL names. There’s no direct integration with the secondary sites.) Once you’ve gone through the sign-up steps, your band page looks a little like a less-sleek profile page on other social sites – with a few glaring, above-the-fold horizontal ads.

Turning now to BTTV’s other services, if you are a band, you can search for hosts, venues, or shows. If you want to be a host, you can search for bands. A local search for Nashville turned up established acts like The Features, Cadillac Sky, Deadstring Brothers, and plenty of people I never heard of (or saw play) for three years in Nashville – both on the hosting and hosted side of things. It doesn’t seem like BTTV has really found out how to market their service to venues. Venue searches for a few markets turned up no results, though a punk house party venue called “Outskirts House” turned up in Brighton, Massachusetts, on a 500-mile-radius venue search for New York.

BTTV also has built in social functionality to the service with RSVP and invitation tools. In this way, BTTV is in a similar vein to services like Eventbrite, which has scored big with empowering event organizers to sell their own tickets and promote their events. While Eventbrite landed a major investment from Sequoia Capital, BTTV co-founder Todd Hansen recently told Mashable that the company has failed to raise investment money. “Looks like investors aren’t too hot on altruistic travel sites for bands and music fans,” Hansen said.

According to Mashable, Hansen created BTTV after seeing a need in the marketplace for touring artists. With so many  rapid changes in the live music space, I’d say they’re definitely on the right track.


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Phil Manley