Geek Life: Fun stories, memes, rants, humor and other random items at the intersection of tech, science, business and pop culture. SEE MORE

As COVID-19 sent everyone retreating to social isolation and virtual gatherings, it proved particularly difficult for the performers and musicians who rely on live events to make a living. The pandemic has also made us all really tired of virtual gatherings.

Prefunq is a new service designed to combat so-called “Zoom fatigue” and put artists back to work in front of an audience — even if the audience is still virtual as we all wait for the day when clubs and concerts become a real thing again.

Who’s behind it: Tim Keck is the former publisher of The Stranger newspaper in Seattle and later president of Index Newspapers, where he also ran the Portland Mercury. Since November he’s been focused solely on EverOut, a spinout website derived from the events listings of those two publications.

Keck started EverOut’s Prefunq as a way to support artists who were struggling with an abrupt loss of income, and as a way to spice up his own staff meetings. Through friends and contacts, he started helping to facilitate virtual performances for a variety of businesses that were conducting gatherings online.

“The beginning of COVID was so depressing for everybody,” Keck said. “You have these all-staff meetings and you’d be staring at all these squares. I just started hiring artists. And it turned out to be kind of transformative. It had a much better vibe and people were ready to actually talk.”

How it works: Prefunq enlists a roster of solo performers, whose bios and song clips are viewable on the website. A business or whomever else might be holding an online meeting uses the website to select an artist — or let Prefunq select for them. Prefunq asks for a description of the event, start and end time and how many people are expected.

The artist performs a couple songs in a 10-15 minute min concert inside the Zoom call — and there are no requests. Pricing is $175 for up to 25 people and the price goes up for different group sizes.

“It’s this amazing way for people who work at a company, on a team, to have this really intimate show where they can discover new artists,” Keck said. “The artists can connect with new audiences that they’ve never heard before. The company shows that they care about their staff and supports the arts.”

The performers: A variety of singer/songwriters and instrumentalists are available through Prefunq, depending on whether your virtual happy hour needs a piano player or soulful vocalist or you just want some spoken poetry to open an investor meeting.

The meeting holders: Prefunq is catering to bosses and HR pros looking to inject culture, community and creativity into workplaces that have been turned upside down by the lack of in-person gatherings.

Traction: EverOut employs seven people right now, including a new hire to handle Prefunq coordination. The service has facilitated 45 performances so far and Keck said it’s growing and he plans to add more artists. Right now, 100% of proceeds have gone to artists, but eventually the plan is to take a cut in the neighborhood of 25%.

Online and in-person future: The pandemic changed where and how we work and Keck expects that some parts of that, like hybrid workplace models, will stick around. And that’s good news for artists comfortable with playing to virtual audiences.

“What I hope is that everything opens up and people are still doing Zoom meetings and they want to keep it interesting and so these artists have a new way to meet new audiences as well as to make some more money,” Keck said. “If that works out that way I’d be just so thrilled.”

First Tech Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution serving over 600,000 members nationwide. First Tech invests in members with great rates, individualized tools for financial wellness, and convenient banking solutions. As the nation’s premier credit union, First Tech offers a strong and lasting financial partnership for the world’s most innovative companies and their employees. Discover First Tech.

Why the sad face? Amazon driver leaving packages upside down as part of ‘No More Smiles’ protest

27 years after death of Kurt Cobain, group uses AI software to create a ‘new’ Nirvana song

Xbox wins a Twitter brand battle and emerges with promise to produce Series X mini fridges

We’ll celebrate the Pacific Northwest’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and technologists at one of the most anticipated tech events: The GeekWire Awards, presented by Wave Business. We’ll crown the winners from the virtual stage in over a dozen categories, based in part on community voting.

Fred Hutch’s holiday gala going virtual with singer Sheryl Crow and a celebration of ‘fearless science’

Shut out of bars by the pandemic, Seattle trivia startup Sporcle finds success with games on Zoom

Bill Gates says there are too many low-quality SPACs, but he’s firmly focused on the quality ones

Why this Seattle tech CEO pulled his company out of downtown, and isn’t returning anytime soon

Biden calls out Amazon for not paying federal income tax: ‘I’m going to put an end to that’

Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/prefunq-combats-zoom-fatigue-pre-meeting-mini-concerts-support-artists-hurt-pandemic/

News – Prefunq combats Zoom fatigue with pre-meeting mini concerts to support artists hurt by pandemic