Side Door 2021 Year in Review

2020 in the live entertainment industry felt like a different planet. We saw folks doing things they had never done before and grasping for something that felt real and delivered any kind of revenue. But it was not sustainable by many measures. 2021 delivered more of what our future will look like. 

To give some context, we mainly serve independent artists and mainly musicians (but many other performance types as well). Some artists have teams of managers and agents, but most don’t. We give them a place to create any kind of show they want - with or without a host/venue, online (broadcast or interactive), in-person, hybrid or a series of any type. In-person shows have an average capacity of 100. Here’s a breakdown of some data from Side Door that I think points to some upcoming trends.


We will always have online shows

  • They have continued from 2020 into 2021- they die out during the warmer months and come back when it’s colder

  • Ticket prices for online shows have increased by 34% from last year, averaging $14.42/ticket

  • Attendance per online show has only dipped a small amount 

  • The average take home for artists on online shows is $957

In-person shows are making a comeback

  • 130% growth in number of shows from last year

  • 236% growth in tickets sold from last year

  • 489% growth in ticket sales from last year

  • Average ticket price for has increased from $21 to $32, thanks to the introduction of Pay-what-you-can ticket pricing 

  • Artist revenue from in-person shows has more than doubled from last year, earning approximately $334 per show

  • The average number of tickets sold per in-person show has increased 72%

We’ve brought on more venues

  • More than 500 venues signed up in 2021, with a 42% increase in our US venues and 46% increase to Canadian venues

  • Show bookings by venues has increased by 238% from last year

We’re growing in the US...and beyond

  • More than 7000 tickets for in-person and online shows were purchased by folks in the US

  • We have a 377% increase in shows booked in the US from last year

  • We sold tickets to fans in 102 countries in 2021

We’ve made it easier for new fans to find artists

  • Nearly 30,000 new fans came onto Side Door this year

  • 25% use their account to follow artists on Side Door to be notified as soon as they put a show on sale

I have been in many sessions and panels with people in the industry talking about how much pain is probably still ahead - restrictions on capacities and how to attend, continued rates of no-shows, cancellations and dwindling relief from governments or charitable donations to get through.

For independent artists, at least here in Canada, government support gave, in some cases, more of a steady income than most artists had ever experienced. It was a temporary solution that, in its wake, has left artists either scrambling to find ways of making money or changing work completely. With the pressures on the industry and continuing restrictions, artists cannot find venues to play in. Unless you have a fierce agent, you will not secure a night at an established venue on a Friday or Saturday for 2022. And most artists don’t have agents. At the same time, there is a perceived fatigue about online shows that either prevents the artists from trying or the audiences from attending. 

What we’ve seen is more control being shifted into the hands of artists - if they’re willing to take it. Audiences are coming out in force to in-person shows when they feel it’s safe. They’re paying more than they’re asked for the ticket price and the reviews...well, take a look:

“I sang, danced and even cried while watching this.”

“What an incredible evening! I can’t believe the level of talent I saw on stage in one show.” 

“We were rendered speechless by this show.” 

In 2022, we will continue to focus on the needs of the artist, as we have always done. We want to make it easier for artists to find willing hosts to book shows, for them to have great online shows and for them to derive as much value and connection from their shows as possible.

Over the past two years, we’ve invested our time into our online show and ticketing solutions. In 2022, we maintain focus on ensuring artists have a space to perform and the ability to earn revenue from their performances. Whether it’s self-booking a show in-person or online, or helping them match with great venues or presenters, it’s our big audacious goal to open as many (side) doors to new and existing stages as possible.

It’s been an incredibly difficult time to be an artist - even more difficult than before. We are inspired every day by those who keep sharing their art with the world and making it a better place because of it. We can only give thanks by making it easier to sustain an artist career.

We have so much more to come in the new year. We hope to see you online and in-person more with our demos, event partnerships and special projects. Thanks for your support.