May 28, 2020 –– Topeka is celebrating its 100th Hang Session, marking the milestone with a performance for a newlywed couple and creating a once-in-a-lifetime moment for their first dance song. The couple—an ER nurse and her partner—were forced to alter plans for their May 16 wedding due to the current social distancing practices, turning to Topeka to connect them with singer-songwriter Joshua Radin for a special performance. This Hang Session with Radin soon became the centerpiece of their unique wedding. Watch their beautiful wedding video HERE.
Topeka allows fans to connect face-to-face with their favorite artists via live interactive video. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for artists (hosts) to connect on a personal level via scheduled, moderated two-way Hang Sessions, with customizable lengths typically lasting between 15 and 45 minutes. This form of personal communication enables artists to engage with fans either solo or as part of a larger group to connect through authentic conversations, mini-concerts, private lessons and more, creating meaningful conversations where artists can also get to know their fans on an individual level.
Joshua Radin describes his experience with Topeka, “Being quarantined at home for a couple months now, I started to wonder how and when I’d be able to play live music for people again, as it’s my favorite thing to do. Topeka couldn’t have come at a better time.” Radin has not only been able to experience face-to-face, personal interactions and create meaningful connections with his fans, but has also been able to monetize his Hang Sessions, making up for the loss of income from not being able to tour. Topeka is continuing to expand and grow their talent pool of hosts, and participating artists are seeing an immediate return booking multiple sessions from $250 -$1250 each while loving the fan interaction. With just one post on social media, Radin was able to book more than 30 Hang Sessions and is now holding 2-3 sessions a day from his home.
This new digital destination offers an array of experiences, ranging from one-on-one conversations to album listening parties and mini-concerts, group Q&As, workshops, serenades and more. Fans simply choose an artist, which type of Hang Session they would like and suggest a few meeting times. From there, a Topeka moderator schedules, connects, monitors from backstage and rejoins to wrap up the session. Topeka allows participating artists to set their own prices and session offerings. In addition to musicians, the Topeka team has received many inquiries and great interest from athletes, chefs and actors among others and are currently expanding the offerings beyond the music community. Watch an example of Topeka HERE and visit Topeka.live.
“We are excited to see Topeka become a place where artists can connect with their fans in a meaningful way while being looked after by our team of moderators,” says Andy Levine, “It feels like every Hang Session is a stage for something special like this beautiful moment.”
Launched in late 2019, Topeka was created by Andy Levine, the founder and former CEO of travel experience company Sixthman. Levine is known for creating innovative new ways for artists and fans to connect on a deeper level through unique shared moments. At Sixthman, Levine specialized in curating and building once-in-a-lifetime music festivals at sea, producing a number of beloved cruise ship vacations—including founding the Rock Boat in 2001—and through the years creating opportunities for artists including KISS, Bon Jovi, John Mayer, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs and Diplo to have first-hand experiences with their fans.
Norwegian Cruise Lines acquired Sixthman in 2012, where Levine served as CEO through 2016 and now as Chairman. This acquisition has made possible the time for Levine to focus his efforts and use his expertise on his latest adventure, Topeka. Upon reflection and noting how he had no idea how timely the idea would become, “Topeka is an idea that I developed over a year ago: a digital destination where, from home or anywhere, fans and artists can connect in a very authentic way,” explains Levine. “I know firsthand how meaningful these connections can be for both the artists and their fan base, and the community was really missing this experience. In addition, with our mission driven hiring, I knew I could combine my goals of serving both the artist community and also underserved members of our community here in Atlanta. The quarantine experience has exemplified how needed and meaningful these Hang Sessions truly are.”
Each Hang Session supports Topeka’s partnership with Circles Morningside, the Atlanta-based chapter of Circles USA. Their 12-week Apprenticeship Program works with members in developing “life systems” while preparing them for full time employment opportunities with Topeka. More on Circle USA HERE.