February 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm

ShowScoop Answers Age-Old Question: ‘But How Are They Live?’

showscoop live music ios reviewFor most of us, live music is something that happens a handful of times per year — a summer festival, a friend’s band, maybe a couple of big stadium tours, and/or some local up-and-comers.

Other music fans go to shows all the time. This could be because they’re in a band or have yet to settle down to the family grind — or maybe they’re just really, really fun.

ShowScoop (free on the web and iOS) is for the latter — the inveterate show-goers, who will see a band even if they don’t love them, just because they put on a good live show. There is one other use case though: If you’re not a live music freak, and you like a band but don’t love them. How are you supposed to know whether they’re any good live?

ShowScoop, which launched an iOS app a couple of hours ago at the SF MusicTech Summit, attempts to answer that question by crowdsourcing the rating of live bands. It is clearly a noble goal. Whether or not it succeeds will depend on how many people actually use it.

We say it’s a noble goal because some bands are amazing on record, but terrible live (for me, this was De La Soul in the ’90s). Other bands destroy live, even though their records aren’t too polished (go see Notekillers some time). By focusing its music ratings only on the live shows, ShowScoop (we called the web version “Yelp for live music”) attempts to let show goers know what they’re in for before they buy their tickets. Helpfully, ratings include separate numbers for stage presence, crowd interaction, sound quality, and visual effects, and users can also submit photos of the shows. You can “follow” bands to see all of their reviews and photos as they come in.

When we reviewed the web app last summer, ShowScoop had under 100 actual reviews. That’s not enough.

Today, it has 840-plus reviews, which isn’t very many in Internet numbers either. Now that there’s an iOS app too, it should find a larger audience of users, especially for the photo feature. Or perhaps its founder Micah Smurthwaite will figure out a way to add some artificial intelligence to help this thing scale.

It would be nice if ShowScoop takes off, because “Yeah I like them, but should I see them live?” is such a valid question. Artists and bands vary so much, in terms of how well they are translate their records into a live presence. Now that more of the industry depends on live ticket receipts, it’s a more important question for both fans and artists than ever before.