Shortly after venues throughout Chicago closed their doors in March, the Hideout launched a series of virtual concerts, comedy shows, bingo games and events that sought to replicate the communal feel of the cozy bar and stage. According to Hideout programming director Sully Davis, the immediacy of the venue's transition to virtual events came out of a desire to connect with its audience and maintain some control during a time of intense change. "We don't have to wait for Congress to say something, we don't have to wait for someone to tell us we can reopen, we can do this right now," Davis says.
With no safe way of allowing guests back into its relatively small performance space and no financial relief for music venues (which is still desperately needed) in sight, the Hideout is doubling down on streaming programming. Teaming up with artist-friendly streaming platform NoonChorus, the Hideout is bringing all of its existing streaming content—like Hideout bartender Lawrence Peters' weekly happy hour and the A Scientist Walks into a Bar talk show—to a new online locale. The Hideout will also launch two new series: To the Front, which asks artists like Tasha and Kelly Hogan to spotlight three of their favorite songwriters who each perform 10- to 15-minute sets, and Live from the Hideout, a live performance from a local act filmed with multiple cameras in the empty venue (similar to Audiotree's STAGED series at Lincoln Hall).
The most noticeable change in the Hideout's latest incarnation of its streaming programming is how viewers pay to see shows. Up until now, the Hideout hosted its virtual programming on Twitch and asked viewers to make a donation to the venue's PayPal account, which was split between the artist and the venue. On the NoonChorus platform, gaining access to a streaming show requires viewers to purchase a ticket. You can buy tickets à la carte, but hardcore Hideout fans might want to spring for a monthly subscription—the first 50 people to sign up can see every Hideout show for $20 a month (after those discounted subscriptions are gone, it will be $25 a month).
No one can predict when live music might be able to resume at local venues, so for the time being, going to a show at the Hideout will mean logging onto NoonChorus and tuning into a stream. "This is the model that we think will work when we think about streaming in the long term, when we think about helping the artists that we work with and helping our community connect," Davis says.
The Hideout's latest slate of virtual programming launches on NoonChorus on September 3, with the first episode of To the Front, hosted by Chicago singer-songwriter Tasha.
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