NextUp Comedy is the only way to watch some of the most brilliant stand-up shows in the world, whenever, wherever. People love comedy, and since the decline of DVD, nothing has adequately filled the void – until now.
CEO Daniel Berg has an in-depth knowledge of the UK stand-up circuit and an extensive background in comedy and video, having previously worked at TV companies Brown Eyed Boy, Cartoon Network and ComComedy. His experience also includes creating online comedy for the BBC and Comedy Central US, and he has a strong track record of online marketing and creating virals.
We caught up with Dan to find out what it is that makes NextUp so unique.
What does the UK stand-up scene currently look like, and how does NextUp fit into this culture?
Dan: The UK stand-up scene is thriving. Ticket sales have increased every year for the Edinburgh Comedy festival and comedians are selling out everything from stadiums to pub rooms up and down the country.
We’re not a substitute to this live scene though; we’re complementary. It’s hard to beat being at a gig in person, but when that’s not possible due to ticket availability, cost, date, location or just not wanting to leave the sofa – we’re the next best thing. Plus, each video links to an act’s website and gig listings to actively encourage our members to follow that act and see them live.
To get an idea of how NextUp works, watch this short video (or try it out yourself with a 30-day free trail):
Is stand-up something you’ve been involved with personally?
I’ve put on gigs, but never performed personally (the thought of it is slightly terrifying, I don’t know how comics do it every night!). However, after this investment round the NextUp co-founders did say we’d perform at an open mic night 5 minutes each so we could experience it first-hand (though we’re not telling anybody where or when, sorry!).
You've previously worked at a number of TV companies (Brown Eyed Boy, Cartoon Network and ComComedy). How did these inspire you in the creation of NextUp Comedy? Have you any good anecdotes from those days?
It was during my time at ComComedy with my co-founders that we witnessed year on year the incredible variety of live comedy shows being performed at the Edinburgh Fringe that were continually just disappearing without any visual trace. So, we decided to use our skills in production and digital media to do something about it. By this point we also had great relationships with acts and agents, so we knew we’d be able to deliver.
Also having worked in big and small companies, I’m really relishing the fact that NextUp as a lean startup can move quickly and decisively. For instance, we filmed five shows in Edinburgh this year with very little lead time – something a big production company would have really struggled to do.
How many comedians/shows does NextUp currently have under its belt, and do you have any particular favourites? Feel free to namedrop.
We have over 60 comedians and 80 full-length stand-up shows, of an average of one hour in duration. There’s something for everyone. I’m a big fan of alternative and character comedy, so I’d probably say Jordan Brookes (who just won a Chortle award) and Colin Hoult’s Anna Mann (look out for her Nick Crippen character – he’s incredible) are among my favourites.
Who is NextUp Comedy’s main audience, and what benefit do you offer comedians?
Our current audience are digitally engaged fans from the UK, aged between 18 and 34. We offer quite a few benefits to comedians. Firstly, like Spotify, we operate on a revenue-share model and split revenue with them 50/50 – proportioned based on minutes watched. This opens up an additional revenue stream for them. We also advance all the filming costs so comedians who were previously letting their hard-worked shows disappear without any visual trace can have them recorded to a professional standard and preserved forever. Finally, we bring exposure to comedians and their shows like never before, allowing them to be discovered by a worldwide audience of comedy fans.
How are you marketing NextUp, and how do you plan to market it in future? Has it been well-received thus far?
What’s been most effective so far is the sponsorship of a popular comedy podcast and comedians on NextUp promoting us to their social media followers. Using this round of investment, we’re gearing up for a big marketing push using a specialist growth agency called Ladder, who’ll be utilising a variety of marketing-sprint tactics. Over the next couple of months we’re also installing a refer-a-friend feature and affiliate scheme.
How did you go about assembling the NextUp team?
It all happened quite organically as three of the four co-founders worked together for five years at ComComedy (another comedy company). Whilst there, we met and worked with Stuart Snaith, who was Head of Comedy at BBC Worldwide, and asked him to join the team.
What are you hoping NextUp will achieve in coming years?
Our ultimate goal is to be the home of stand-up comedy, a brand absolutely synonymous with the genre. Once that is achieved, we can open up related verticles such as ticketing, festivals and branded content, and look to exit within four years.
NextUp Comedy is currently raising funds on SyndicateRoom.