It may be a little different for the likes of One Direction, but for decades up and coming bands have booked themselves gigs by networking and hustling like hell. This process has mostly stuck to the streets, with posters sticky-taped to telegraph poles and noticeboards around universities and pubs.
But Perth startup Gigger thinks that, like many other things, this can be done better online. The startup has created a platform that can be described a little bit like Airbnb for venues. It works by having bands list their availabilities and showcase their music through integrations with platforms including Facebook and BandCamp, with venues then able to browse and book them for gigs. Notifications can go out to all band members when someone receives an offer, accepts a gig, or receives worksheets. The platform also allows promoters to either look for bands or venues with the requisite tech specs and then send proposals.
Cofounder Anthony Manning-Franklin said the idea came from his own experiences working in the music industry. From playing in a number of bands and running a recording studio, he’s gone through the process of putting gigs together himself and seen how difficult the process can be.
“The live music industry is one of the most technologically overlooked sectors of the music industry. There are incredible ways we can completely change the processes behind the live music industry, making it more profitable for everyone involved. Which ultimately means more venues hosting live music, more gigs, and more opportunities for young bands,” Manning-Franklin said.
“Someone actually launched something that I thought was this idea and then I looked at it and realised they were basically just putting on house parties, and I went, this could be something actually really really cool so, since they weren’t doing that I decided that I could go and build that myself.”
Manning-Franklin and cofounder Kristy Davis built an MVP in a month mid-2015 before fellow team member Laith Tierney on board to build the iteration of the platform launched last week. It was built after much discussion with people working in the industry, with Manning-Franklin finding that the most common problem was the organising of communication. In turn, Gigger focused on creating a streamlined messaging system.
“You can have a conversation about the offers that you’re sending to bands, you can have a conversation about the event you’ve got with all the bands who have agreed to play it, you can have a conversation with the venue about the proposal that you’re sending the venue. We basically automated the process so it’s not lots of different text messages and Facebook groups being thrown together and all that sort of stuff. It just sort of happens automatically for them as we’ve just thrown it together,”
With a number of competitor platforms popping up, Manning-Franklin said that Gigger’s main difference lies in its monetisation strategy.
“A lot of them are making similar kind of mistakes that we sort of veered away from early in the process. The classic one that you see coming up again and again is that they keep trying to take a commission off performance fees, because they’re imagining that gigs at pubs might be just like putting on a big show at a big stadium, but typically bands are getting paid in cash at the end of the night, so taking a performance fee online is too big a change of behaviour,” he said.
Manning-Franklin explained that Gigger is more of a lead generation platform, with bands paying a subscription to unlock venue offers through the platform. A free band profile gives bands one offer a month, while subscriptions range from $5.95 per month for five offers to $19.95 per month for unlimited offers. Prices for promoter subscriptions are similar, while venues can work through the platform completely free.
With 200 bands already on Gigger, Manning-Franklin hopes to get at least 500 from Perth alone over the next month or so in order to build up a substantial user base and gather direct feedback before setting out on expansion around Australia. Of course, building out the venue side of the platform is also a priority.
Manning-Franklin expects the live music scene’s word of mouth nature to help spur growth. Gigger also has an open API for other platforms such as events apps and gig guides to work through and help create a streamlined ecosystem for live music that should help the platform grow.
Image: Anthony Manning-Franklin. Source: Supplied