The entertainment sector – particularly the nightlife segment has been hit hard by the pandemic. A $27 billion industry that employs nearly half a million people in the U.S., went away overnight leaving promoters, DJ’s, bartenders, barbacks, sound and lighting engineers, and venues with no safety net. While some hospitality businesses continue to offer service in the form of takeout and delivery, exporting live entertainment is not as simple.
Brands and DJ’s have taken to live streaming as a source of revenue and relevance, and as the movements for racial justice and police reform seemingly pushed the pandemic to the backseat, social causes lead the online discussion. With momentum around change-making, communities have grown stronger through music and meaningful causes. The missing link in digital however, is the feeling you get from a space with people in it and in turn how that affects your mood and experience.
Live streams have become the norm, however the online experience can be underwhelming and full of tech glitches. The Verzuz series leverages connectivity gaps as a space for community sarcasm and engagement, was concepted by producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, and pairs two musicians for an unscripted battle on Instagram Live drawing in around 250,000 viewers. At the beginning of quarantine, DJ D-Nice became a global success with his Instagram Live feel-good #ClubQuartine DJ sets from the kitchen, quickly adding VIP guests like Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Bernie Sanders, and Stevie Wonder to the party. Longstanding underground events like New York’s infamous Papi Juice have taken to Zoom to celebrate PRIDE with their community, while the traveling Do-Over day party, sponsored by Adidas, continues to pop up with all-star talent from London to Los Angeles.
As online programming continues to evolve in quarantine, the concept of the nightclub – one of community, music, shared values, and a dancefloor, has formed in Club House Global, a live streaming platform that launched in April garnering 1,600,000 unique live views in less than three months. The for-profit, social impact initiative was formed to build community and support the nightlife ecosystem that disappeared when COVID hit. “I didn’t want the DJ community to drown, I didn’t want the DJ family to become extinct,” says Jasmine Solano, Co-Founder, Executive Producer, and on-camera host of Club House Global, the weekly digital nightclub. Known for bridging the gap between culture, corporate and community, Solano, has a working DJ for over 15 years.
The interactive platform hosts weekly parties with a thoughtfully curated roster of DJ’s, musicians, and dancers from every genre around the world, pairing each stream with brands and causes. Donations and brand sponsorships keep the platform sustainable and equitable with 75% split evenly amongst talent, 15% going back to Club House Global, and 10% to charity each month. To date, over 100 DJ’s have performed and been paid through the platform and over $20,000 has been paid out to cause and philanthropic partners: L.A. Reform Jails, MusiCares, United States Bartenders Guild Foundation, The George Floyd Memorial Fund, The Breonna Taylor Memorial Fund, Snap4Freedom and more.
“Jasmine [Solano] is a trusted leader in the community and she has a vision,” says Sasha Marie, a DJ and radio host based in San Diego who recently played on Club House Global. “I feel like Club House [Global] is aligned with music and authentic activism.” The unique digital structure of Club House Global also allows for DJ’s across genres to be on the same bill, whereas in a physical club setting, a promoter would not be able to book stacked lineups with artists of different audience sizes in fear of not selling enough tickets. With performances from top billing talent Questlove, Estelle, A-Trak, Venus X, Soulection’s Joe Kay and Andre Power, DJ Rashida, Coco & Breezy and high profile interviews joined by Co-Founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrice Cullors – the Club House curatorial offering appeals to communities at the intersection of music and social justice.
As brands reposition priorities, some are reconsidering overall messaging, marketing, and ad spend to align with consumers in more authentic ways while others fail to read the room. Understanding this moment in time and the leverage they’ve built through community, the platform is pointed about partnerships, “while everyone is sort of tiptoeing around what they can and cannot say from a brand perspective right now, we allow the buffer between the artists, the community, and brand which gives a certain raised level authenticity opposed to just a direct brand relationship,” says Patrick Struys, Co-Founder and Executive Producer of Club House Global who has a background as a creative director and producer.
Amongst Club House Global’s partners have been Bumble, Avion, and Beats By Dre. “We’re being very transparent and protective over what we’ve built because we’ve built this off of our relationships with our artists and we’re not going to partner with brands that don’t understand the climate that we are in,” says Solano. Jeramie Hopson, Music Marketing Manager at Beats by Dre was an early supporter of the platform within the organization, gathering cooperative components to make a partnership happen after becoming more deeply connected to music during the pandemic. “I watched DJ’s spin on IG live from home and started to notice a lot of them were using Beats by Dre headphones, unsolicited for their IG Live sets,” says Hopson. “I talked to my team and the universe took care of the rest. The most important part is trusting and believing in the people you’re working with and aligning on the collective vision of truly wanting to help others first during uncertain times.”
Club House Global provides a service on both ends – for DJ’s, the platform is teaching many how to live stream, gifting artists with merch from sponsors that can help with their craft, paying a performance fee where no gigs really exist anymore, and finally providing video clips to be used as promotional tools for future live streams that DJ’s may do. For brands, partnerships are entirely customizable, flexible, and backed with professionalism, “Patrick is a design guru and always finds the most beautiful ways to provides the brands with an interface or an experience that feels good and feels like them,” says Executive Producer, Anjali Ramasunder. “We take our partnerships very seriously and we don’t want any brand to walk away feeling like they didn’t have the absolute best experience possible.”
The month of June was all about PRIDE for Club House Global, bringing in different elements of the culture from music curated by the infamous and inclusive underground Papi Juice event, to Black transgender actress Laverne Cox as a special guest host. Previous streams showcased musical talent from London, Africa, and Brazil and the sounds of house music, downtempo and electronic, hip hop, soka, neo soul and more. “Club House Global is as much about education as it is about entertainment,” says Solano. “It’s a purpose AND a party. A mood AND a mission.”