The image of the struggling musician dreaming of making it big looms large across popular culture. In turn, a number of startups have emerged with a focus on helping these musicians book shows at hip venues as they continue on the road to achieving their dream of playing stadium shows one day.
Founded by Javier Trueba and Leonel Veliz, Sydney startup The Hip Stars Band also wants to give more work to musicians. The gigs it aims to help them book, however, fit into a market that is perhaps less hip but not insignificant: personal and corporate gigs and events, from the likes of weddings to software conferences.
“The Hip Stars Band takes the very best of the Australian music scene into the lives of everyday Australians. We make it very easy for the general public to book high-end musicians for their own personal enjoyment,” Trueba said.
“Gone are the days where figuring out how to book a band was a very complicated process, where it was too easy to get a dodgy band. People relied on word of mouth, and it took hard work to find the right band.”
The platform was born out of Trueba and Veliz’s years in the music industry, where they saw a significant gap in the market and decided their connections in the space could help get it off the ground.
“There is an amazing Australian music scene and a lack of accessibility for the everyday person to access it for their events, weddings, corporate functions, and so on,” Trueba said.
“There are a lot of hard-working, professional service industry musicians that are also wonderful original artists. They know how to be both, so why not make that accessible to everyone who wants to book music?”
Though they had belief in the idea and the connections to make the business model work, Trueba admitted the development of the platform itself had been a “long and arduous process”.
“I don’t come from a web development or IT background so there was a lot of learning, trial, and error and flow charts galore plus having to do my best to articulate functionality. Once you’re committed to a business venture you need to deliver, so it perseverance that comes into play,” he said.
In its current iteration, The Hip Stars Band platform works by allowing users to determine what kind of ‘music configuration’ and sound they like.
The startup offers a range of packages according to the number of musicians and instruments a customer wants, with a configuration of two musicians, such as a singer/guitarist and another singer or percussionist, starting at $1712, through to a configuration of nine musicians priced at $5274.
Prospective customers can also get a feel for what kind of musical style they want to feature, with the startup having taken its musicians into the studio to record demos across styles such as classical, jazz and swing, rock, and more, that customers can listen to online.
Should someone want to scope out the musicians in person, The Hip Stars Band has been holding monthly live music showcases in Sydney and Adelaide, with Melbourne and Brisbane to be rolled out next.
Given these features, booking a band can be relatively self-serve, however the startup also offers customers access to a ‘music planner’ to help shape their event and ensure it runs smoothly.
Musicians currently on the platform include singers and bands that have been on tv programs such as The Voice, unsigned original artists, and cover musicians.
“We pitch to high profile singers, session musicians and musicians that have experience in the wedding and corporate event format. We also tap into the young ‘up-and-coming’ musicians that have amazing talent and are willing to work in this industry and learn. We give our singers and musicians work opportunities by presenting them in the live showcases,” Trueba said.
The key to attracting musicians to the platform and keeping them on it, Trueba said, is simple: paying them well. The Hip Stars Band is able to do this by working on small margins, he said, and the fact it produces the volume of work for them.
“We come from the ethos that if we look after our musicians then they will take care of our clients. Our musicians know that if you are a part of our collective and also an original artist then we can give them a platform for their original music. This means a lot to musicians that cross over into both scenes,” he said.
On the other side of the market, The Hip Stars Band is targeting consumers as well as a broad range of venues, from wedding venues and reception centres, hotels, and convention centres.
“We are working on building relationships with all venues and inviting them to get to know us. We feel that we can address some of the challenges they have faced in working with other bands and musicians and in the coming year they will get to know us and we can win their confidence to become their preferred supplier,” Trueba saiad.
“We are one brand but we are made up of individuals so it’s not completely homogenised. Every singer is a personality of their own and every musician has something unique.”
Had enough of all the startup buzzwords? So have we. That’s why we’re asking the startups we chat to to send us a video where they pitch their business in a way that’s easy enough for even the most technophobic of grandparents to understand:
Image: Javier Trueba. Source: Supplied.