Finally, a company to serve those of us that wish more strange musicians would sleep on our couches!
Seriously, though, this actually sounds pretty interesting. Better Than The Van has recently introduced a site to connect touring musicians with people willing to let them sleep on their couches. Whether they are daredevils, sickos, or good Samaritans, people are posting profiles and opening their homes to musicians that need a free place to stay.
Better Than The Van looks too new to judge how useful it will be, but I like the idea. What I would really love to see is a site where I could match these willing victims with venues, essentially enabling me to plot out a little tour all from one site. But I guess if things were that easy, everyone would do it.
We posed some questions to Todd, the official “Firestarter” for BTTV. Read the interview below!
How many people have offered their couches up so far (ie registered under “Free couches & floors”)?
Around 100 and growing. We’ve got some opportunities coming through that will increase that number.
Can people put a limit on the number of band members welcome for any given stay?
If they want. They just have to spell that out in their profile.
Can you point to a band or some musicians that have used your site successfully for tour lodging?
A band out of Rhode Island called Troop of Echos hooked up a few places to stay and a couple shows by using BTTV. We’ve been watching the traffic and it looks like a lot of bands are making connections with people and other bands.
What compels a person to randomly open their couch to strangers?
They’ve either done it before or are just curious and want to get involved. If you’ve helped out bands before or work in music it’s a pretty natural thing. If you never have, the unknown is a compelling reason, I guess. Bands, for the most part, are nice people and stay in a lot of random places. They are usually pretty comfortable people to have at your place.
What kinds of people are offering up their couches? Fellow musicians, groupies, drug dealers?
So far it seems like just cool people that want to help out bands. All of us here at BTTV have done our fair share of touring and stayed in all sorts of situations but on the whole most people were very nice and pretty normal. I guess you find what you want to find. If it’s groupies and drugs that you want, you’ll seek that out.
Are people generally willing to have strange guests on a repeated basis, or do you think it’s more of a novelty appeal?
It depends. It’s like anything. Some people may try it out and not be into it, or there are those who really want to get into it and be really involved.
How will your site pay for itself?
We’ve got a whole stack of old Can and Bread records we plan to pawn.
Do you have any more features in the works? Have you considered expanding it to include booking venues near available couches?
In the near future we plan to throw in some kind of map feature and more search options.
What steps should a member take to ensure they are not murdered by a psychopath?
We’ve built in a commenting feature that allows members to vouch for each other. We also ask that members be smart and use their heads. BTTV’s purpose is to be a means of introduction. If they need to, members can usually find out more about a person or a band.
What’s your strategy for getting the word out?
We’re doing a lot of press right now, which is working well to get the word of mouth started. We’ve got a couple other things in the works that should raise our profile in the coming months. It’s exciting times, the response has been great.
Will there be any incentives down the line to encourage members to continue offering their couches?
Have you heard any wild stories resulting from a couch surfing arranged through your site?
Not yet, but we haven’t asked.