How to avoid sour notes when booking a music act? That is: Making sure that the band you take on is the right fit for the right place, and will keep people out on the dance floor or filling the seats?
The question is not an idle one for talent seekers – the folks who book and pay for the musicians. Consider that half-empty music clubs can actually lose money on a tough night.
As it so often does, technology is helping take the guesswork out of the matchmaking process – and in this case, it’s striking the right chord between people who want music (and will pay for it) and the people who make music.
In the latest Matchmakers installment, David Evans, economist and author of the book “Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms,” interviewed David Baird, CEO of Gigmor. The company was founded three years ago as a site to match musicians looking to form bands – think of it as a LinkedIn for musicians, as he told PYMNTS.
In the past three years, Gigmor has grown from its original genesis. The newest incarnation connects musicians and bands with what the executive termed “talent seekers” looking to fill smaller music venues or find the right act for a specific event, such as a wedding or corporate party.
Up until now, said Baird, there has been no centralized platform that brings together the tune seekers and the music makers. The process still remains fragmented, with people frequently resorting to social media and word of mouth to try to book qualified acts, a task that can even daunt professional booking agents.
Gigmor helps concentrate the widely dispersed info across an artist’s profile and upload it onto the site, he said. The talent buyers are also able to advertise their open gigs and provide the opportunity for acts to apply online to fill the spot.
There’s friction salved by this process, as Baird and Evans discussed.
Artists might not know which venues are appropriate for them to approach and play, said Baird. They then may have to send unsolicited demos, emails and other inquiries to the venues – attempts that often disappear into the ether. Baird knows whereof he speaks, as he has been a musician himself.
He said the matching service that has been broadened to include talent seekers evolved upon discovering that music industry participants – not necessarily musicians – had also been coming to Gigmor to find new talent.
Thus far, the focus has been on music venues – small to medium outlets, mainly in metropolitan areas. Baird said that these establishments have “the greatest frequency of need … we call them ‘emerging artists’ clubs,’” as they are likely seeking to bring in new artists every week and typically have a capacity of 300 to 500 individuals. The goal is to eventually include event planners.
The market is rather fragmented for musicians, too, said Baird. All in all, there are only 15,000 to 20,000 artists professionally represented in the United States and, of course, there are multiples of that in the trenches, so to speak: musicians aspiring to gigs, sans labels or managers, in what Baird likened to a “do it yourself world.”
The current Gigmor model, he said, is a free one, where the goal is not to have payments serve as an initial barrier to entry on either side of the music matchmaking equation. The musician profiles offer up a wealth of info on the performer, with links to music and gig histories. The eventual payments model may look for access to paying gigs via what Baird termed a “modest monthly subscription.” As more gigs are booked through the Gigmor platform, said Baird, more data accrues – offering insight into audiences, sales of tickets and other metrics, taking some of the risk out of the booking process.
This is all far more efficient than the typical booking process, where an agent gets 15 percent of the gross from a musician – the venue does not typically pay, he added, noting that “marketplaces have enormous advantages over offline solutions.”
Asked for advice to musicians starting out in this brave new tech-enabled world, Baird told Evans that it is important to “understand that you are not just an artist. You are an entrepreneur. And if you are a band, you are a small business.” Such sentiment may seem antithetical to the creative side of music making, said Baird, but music is a career like any other. The talent must be paired with “chutzpah and drive and marketing savvy that helps [musicians] build their careers. Don’t shy away from that.”