As the stereotype goes, the life of the amateur musician can be a hard one, with finding gigs that pay anything at all difficult, let alone signing that major record deal and making it to superstardom.
Soon to launch Sydney startup GigPlz can’t promise the record deal, but it is hoping to make life at least a little easier for musicians by helping them find paying gigs – literally defined as anything that gets a musician paid – whether that be a child’s sixth birthday party, playing an inner-city bar on a Saturday night, or getting into the studio to play on another artist’s recording session.
Cofounder Sidney Macdessi said the idea came from a short stint he has a booking agent for an independent record label, through which he noticed how hard it is for musicians to get their names out.
“A musician usually has to have a booking agent, which you don’t get unless you have promotion and an audience and money, and on top of that, in order to get a successful gig they’d have to do a lot of cold calls, they’d have to trawl through Facebook, they’d have to trawl through potential venues, they’d have to pitch people directly, they have to go in-house visits,” Macdessi explained.
“For these musicians, their job and their dream is to play, but many can’t continue because there aren’t enough opportunities out there. But if you collate everything in terms of parties, corporate events, live music, then we can find them gigs, it’s just that it’s very hard for them to do so by themselves if they don’t have the resources. So what we’re trying to do again is get all these gigs in one central platform and say, ‘hey, here they are, apply away,’ and get them out there,” Macdessi said.
Macdessi started working on GigPlz in earnest around four months ago, bringing on Nirmal Gyanwali as technical cofounder to develop the platform while he worked on getting the industry on board. There are over 1,000 combined users on board so far, with the majority, as one would expect, musicians.
The platform works by having musicians sign up and, like a writer or designer would build up a portfolio, GigPlz will also look to help musicians build and display their portfolio. It will help each user create an EPK, or electronic press kit, and a profile detailing their past performances and reviews that venues can browse from.
Venues, meanwhile, can create their own profiles and list available dates, with musicians then able to apply to play, detailing their fee and creating a bidding system of sorts.
“It will ensure venues have the best quality acts through the reviews, but also at reasonable prices, and so what you find is that in itself helps locate the cost in between supply and demand for musicians and venues and puts it at the best price possible. Musicians will know what to bid for in terms of prices, and venues will know what they’re looking for,” Macdessi said.
At launch, GigPlz will be free for both musicians and venues as it looks to get an initial user base on board, however Macdessi expects to implement a fee after a few months.
“We’re looking to incorporate a commission structure that greatly undercuts that of any industry standard out there at the moment. I think the normal commission is about 10 percent per gig that booking agents charge, so we’re looking to take that to single figures, as low as possible,” he explained.
Like many other listing and matching sites, the platform will also allow musicians and venues to pay for priority listings.
Macdessi said, “For now we want it to be completely free; we want to see how people use the site before we incorporate any of that and we want to make it as cheap as possible for the musicians, because we do understand how financially deprived this industry is.”
Perth startup Gigger is perhaps GigPlz’s closest competitor, similarly helping musicians and venues find each other. Gigger 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.
Despite the similarities between the two, Macdessi is confident that GigPlz’s simplicity will attract both musicians and venues to the platform, while the fact the ‘bidding’ process allows musicians to see who else has applied for a venue or gig will also prove a strong attractor.
As it gears up for launch, Macdessi is focused on cornering each Australian city before looking internationally.
Image: Nirmal Gyanwali and Sidney Macdessi. Source: Supplied.