SPARK SPEAK – JOEP VAN LEIJSEN
In our SparkSpeak series we interview Sparks, who are the innovators, front-runners, early adopters and trailblazers. Their vision shows the way forward and we love to talk to them to deepen our trend research. Despite that we had our interview on one of the wettest days that Amsterdam had seen in a long time, it was a day full of inspiration.
We spoke with the founder of Curated, Joep van Leijsen. Curated organizes unique concerts where there is a special atmosphere through the selected venues. This allows the audience to discover music in an inspiring and intimate way. The story of Curated is an interesting one because it allows the audience to experience music through Joep’s vision. That makes him a true curator.
What is a curator for you?
Someone with a vision who is so involved with his passion that they can judge based on intuition and past experiences how something will appeal to people. It is about staying true to that vision, without being influenced by money driven opportunities that arise. In a way it is a person with an obsession, focused on details. Curators have a level of authenticity that is appreciated by the audience.
How could you tell there was a need of bringing music to people in an intimate setting?
Today music is available everywhere, at any moment in time, it’s part of our daily lives. However, with so many impulses every day it is hard to completely give yourself to the music. When you go to a concert the majority of the audience has a kind of restlessness that is deeply rooted in their behaviour in how they should act. People can’t live without social media. I noticed that the connection with the music and the artist during a concert disappears. The venues weren’t capturing a cozy feeling anymore to completely explore the music and the lifestyle around it. The first time I went to a living room concert the music there really got me. The small crowd had complete attention for the artist from the beginning till the end. There was an intimate vibe and the whole evening had a sense of depth. With Curated I wanted to capture these same elements.
What role does the venue play?
It’s more exciting for the audiences to familiarize themselves with unexplored music when it is in an unique cozy room, where you can sit right next to the stage as opposed to a huge venue. Hearing the authentic music up close makes it hard for the small crowd not to loose their breath. I noticed that in more intimate settings, the audience really lost themselves in the music. During most of the Curated nights there’s a sense of excitement that everyone feels, including the artist. There is something happening and what the artist feels becomes a part of what everybody feels and this creates a connection.
How has your concept changed along the way?
Not a lot has changed. From the beginning, I always wanted to push myself into looking for something new. For me it is interesting to see how an upcoming artist develops, to try and understand why a certain artist suddenly becomes popular, or why not. My ultimate goal is to create such a strong Curated tribe that I’m able to sell out shows straight away when the tickets go on sale, by just sending one mailing. Now more than 80% of the shows are sold out. The hardest thing is to make money on such intimate shows because of the high expenses. This means I have to find a way to make a profit without scaling the event too much.
How would you like to see Curated grow?
Within a period of three years I saw the interest in Curated growing. The biggest concern with the platform is how to earn enough money to cover all the expenses. With the evenings, I only have place for a crowd of 150, otherwise the whole value of connecting the audience with the music and the artist is gone. Offering a kind of subscription may be a good way to engage people. But before you can do that you have to build a kind of trust with your audience. In the future, the community will be updated about, exclusive content, background stories on artists, first access to tickets, new collaborations and upcoming events. By offering this kind of subscription packages with various extras, I maintain the intimate vibe of the evenings but still can make some profit. If the quality is good enough and Curated will constantly provide a kind of value for the community, I think the people will appreciate the gesture to be engaged all the time.