SXSW 2016 Music and Tech: Tipcow

By on Thursday, 7th April 2016 at 11:00 am

One of the perks of being a SXSW 2016 Music conference attendee is access to the SXSW Trade Show. It was my first year to partake in the event taking place during Convergence, the period of the festival when the Film, Interactive and Music parts run concurrently. While I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to stop at all the interesting booths in the Austin Convention Center on Monday and Tuesday, there were a few booths in particular that impressed me with their innovation and creativity. I hope as time goes on, I’ll be able to connect you with some of the fine folks of these companies and organisations in the near future.

First up, I want to introduce you to a local to Austin startup who have sussed out a way for artists to get a compliment, via the ever-important medium of money, directly from the fans. We had a great conversation about a recent move by a cafe in Philadelphia to allow music fans seeing live music there to include a tip to the artist playing on their drink bill. Co-founder of TipCow Rene De La Mora rightly pointed out the inherent problem in this idea: punters then will either shortchange the venue for their food and drink in favour of giving more of their money to the band, or vice versa. TipCow is different, as it’s a free service for artists to connect with their fans and to get paid (or in this case, tipped) for their hard work and efforts in their art, and without a middleman, maximising payments from fan to artist. I asked CEO Chris Bush in his own words explain how their app, now available in the Apple Store and Google Play, works:

TipCow screencap

TipCow is a mobile app and Web service to allow fans to tip their favorite artists. Each artist has a social media profile through our service with a unique URL, allowing direct fan to artist support any time, and for any reason. This URL can be shared on artists’ social media profiles, Web sites, or other online platforms to allow them to receive tips from fans outside of their shows. Artists also have a dashboard to track their tip amounts and locations, so they can make smarter booking decisions based on which venues they see the most support. We also have a very secure, yet simple signup process to guarantee the artists that can be found in the apps are who they say they are.

We directly promote and support artists via and our social media reach. We have professional photographers on staff to review shows, and work directly with artists to increase their tips at these shows. We also have a tip incentive redemption program in place for select shows to incentivize tipping. We partner with neighboring businesses and venues to give discounts on agreed upon items for tippers, like drink or food discounts. We are currently working on technical features to bring these incentives and many others into the app to bring as much revenue to artists as we possibly can.

Artists currently sign up on the Web site at, and fans can sign up via the app or on the Web site as well.”

We here at TGTF are definitely for any new technology that can increase deserved artists’ incomes and keep them firmly in their livelihoods. More than ever, artists need all the help they can get to keep making music for fans like you and me and all over the world, and this app provides a seamless app to let us help them directly. We’ll definitely be keeping our eye on TipCow and their future innovations in the coming months.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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