Wille Christiani

Artistic Director & CEO, Burnt Out Punks
interviewed 18 May 2016 in Stockholm —

Founded in 2005, Burnt Out Punks are a collective of artists, technicians and producers who create intense spectacles of circus, music and fire for, if they get their way, extremely large audiences. While still in touch with their anarchic roots, lately the company has been looking for ways to consolidate and become financially more stable — which in part has meant dedicating time to writing more applications. In 2013 the company was awarded funding from the EU for TOQQORTUT, a six-country collaboration that culminated in the largest ever outdoor show in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. Alongside their efforts in fundraising, the Punks have also been taking time to develop their brand and audience, including by moving into merchandising, but as ever find it difficult to balance the administrative and creative workloads.

Key Ideas
Scaling your ambitions

The Burnt Out Punks prefer to make shows for 15,000 people — their hearts are in giant, outdoor spectacles. Shows of this kind, however, are not easy to sell: even working to keep the budget low, the big shows will always have a price tag which not many festivals can consider. The Punks also usually play unticketed, further limiting the presenter's ability to recoup costs. Their solution has been to start offering performances at different scales: their current touring piece has been remade in three versions, each with a different name. The Stockholm Syndrome is the full-scale piece with 9 artists and 2 technicians, Asphalt Apocalypse scales it down to 5 artists and 1 technician, and Road Ragnarök goes even smaller.

Artists
Selling your work
Television's brand and reach

While the Punks have experimented with producing their own video content (notably in the form of Life As A Punk, a video series shot by Drakflygaren Produktion for YouTube), their most effective piece of marketing came through the Swedish television show Celebrity Babysitter, a competition-format where four kids judge the peformance of a different babysitter from one episode to the next. (Permitted to blow up dinner and work as safety for fiery stunts, the children rated the Punks a perfect 40/40 stars.) The company instantly saw a surge in bookings for private events — their main source of income — but have also found the TV appearance useful as a kind of shortcut to recognition: even if a potential booker didn't see the episode, people in Sweden have generally heard of the TV show, and trust the company as a result. Having even these small points of leverage can make a big difference in negotiations.

Artists
Marketing & social media
Party your way to bookings
Artists
Selling your work
The Burnt Out Punks Business Card
Artists
Selling your work