I first wrote about Josh Savage in October 2013. A gifted musician and vocalist, Josh has a great musical pedigree, having sung as a soloist at L'Academie Vocale in Paris. His rooftop rendition of Mountains in Hurricanes caught my attention and marked him as someone to watch. Check it out here:
Josh Savage - Mountains in Hurricanes
Since then, Josh has worked hard touring, winning fans one living room at a time. He's crisscrossed Europe and the US, putting on private shows for anyone willing to host a performance in their home or workplace. As it becomes increasingly difficult for new artists to persuade venues to take a chance on them, Josh's living room tour is an innovative solution that delivers results. See for yourself in this new, inspiring documentary about Josh's experiences:
As Josh points out, the tour took his Spotify plays on a single track from a few thousand to 200,000. You can see how people respond positively to the intimacy of a private show, and unlike a club or bar booking, the audience's attention is focused on the artist.
The documentary gives a hint of the hard work involved in undertaking a living room tour, and I was lucky enough to catch up with Josh to talk to him about his experiences. Embarking on an international tour without guaranteed dates or income seems like a huge risk, particularly given the amount of work involved, but Josh says it's the music that keeps him going.
"Music is what makes me happy and pulls me through tough times. I've been told many stories by fans who say that my songs have affected them the same way, and this means a lot to me. I guess that's what keeps me going. When you're doing what you love, it doesn't feel like hard work."
In the age of Trump and rising extremism, I was fascinated by what the documentary says about human kindness. Not only did people open their homes to Josh for a performance, they often fed him and gave him a place to stay. As Josh says,
"For years and to this day, my music career has been based on sleeping on people's couches. People welcome me into their homes with open arms. I'm a stranger, yet they trust me to stay in their homes and I feel safe. Especially in these uncertain times, it restores your faith in humanity."
You can hear stories of his America tour on his blog.
Josh's success is a product of the digital age. The logistics of organising a tour would be impossible without the Internet.
"I announce dates of living room tours to my followers on social media and on my mailing list and I invite fans to email me if they're interested in hosting a private show in their home. I then plot my tour route based on the offers available. There's no way I would be able to do this without the Internet."
Any musicians looking to build a fanbase should consider Sofar Sounds, an innovative tech company that specialises in connecting artists with people actively looking to support new music.
"If you don't have a fanbase yet, I recommend playing Sofar Sounds shows in cities you've never played before. They bring you an attentive and appreciative audience every time. Collect a mailing list at your shows and grow your fanbase from there."
In addition to giving his music exposure, Josh's living room tours have added thousands of fans on social media and have been profitable enough to enable him to move to London to focus on his music career. It's no wonder that he's currently planning another tour.
"I'm releasing a winter single and touring living rooms again in January. There's also a full band show for my single launch at 229 in London on 19 January. Later in in 2017, I'm releasing an EP of piano songs and this will be supported by a European living room tour in April/May."
With so much talent, diligence, and a growing fanbase, it seems only a matter of time before Josh hits the mainstream, but he's keeping his feet very much on the ground.
"I take things a step at a time, I don't worry too much about the future. For now, I'm looking for management and to build a team around me. My next milestones are to do a church tour, release a debut album, play Glastonbury festival and to tour the world with a full band and a small orchestra in live music venues. It would be a dream to play on Later with Jools Holland one day."
Tickets for Josh's full band show are available here, and if you're interested in being part of his January or Spring living room tours, you can apply by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org