The idea of RoadNation began with a casual conversation between CEO and Founder Steve Marks and his son’s piano teacher. The teacher was describing the challenges of touring. The uncertainty of knowing where your fans were located. The daunting and potentially paralyzing financial risk.
This got Steve thinking about the lack of innovation in the touring industry. Nothing had really changed during the last half century: artists book shows and ask fans to buy tickets. It frequently worked… but not always. Sometimes fans missed out when artists bypassed their towns. They craved more of a connection to their favorite artist.
Meanwhile, artists needed more options to create tours, optimize revenue and minimize risk, and better engage their most avid fans. What if there was a platform for artists to create tours directly WITH fans? What if the fans had the power to choose cities for an artist’s tour? How could this happen without an artist asking for donations or simply asking for a fan’s opinion on where to play? Steve’s goal was to build a platform that empowered both fans AND creators of all kinds to work TOGETHER to forge a stronger relationship, one that led to more shows, in front of more fans, in more cities.
Steve was a music geek as a kid. A bassist, he played in prog and blues rock bands throughout high school and college. He wanted to gig full time, but chickened out and instead went to law school at Duke University (Go Blue Devils!). However, he kept music in the mix, focusing on media and entertainment and intellectual property law. In the late 90’s, he began to help develop new business models and was a key industry leader in helping create SoundExchange. Steve worked at the RIAA for 20+ years, eventually becoming Chief, Digital Business & General Counsel. There, he worked on lots of amazing projects that helped move the business from CDs to streaming, but the projects that Steve enjoyed most were those that tangibly helped artists advance their careers.
The RoadNation concept was tested with five different artists who all had successful campaigns and tours. It worked! In 2019, Steve decided to step up and take the helm at RoadNation. He put together a first-rate team and advisory board. Beginning with three campaigns, all were successful and the artists plan to use RoadNation again, the best validation of the model. Though very proud of his work during his 20+ year career at the RIAA, nothing has been as meaningful to Steve as an artist saying, “Thank you -- RoadNation launched us from a one city band to a nationwide tour and fan base.”