Meet the actual gig economy: This startup’s marketplace is connecting musicians with venues

August 15, 2017

For the first time since 1998, the music industry in the United States experienced a double digit increase in overall revenue. But with streaming taking gover as the industry’s leading revenue generator, it’s increasingly more important that musicians hit the road for a string of gigs in order to ensure their success sticks.

But for independent artists, booking a gig is, well, as hard as it sounds. It involves cold calls, blind emails and forced introductions. And with the demand for more live music, this long, drawn-out process hurts small venues as much as it does the musicians.

One Santa Monica startup hopes to change that.

Founded in 2010, Gigmor has quietly attracted more than 50,000 artists to its musician matching site — and just announced a new functionality: a gig marketplace.

“Live music revenues worldwide have been growing at about 10 percent a year for the last five to seven years, and it's expected to continue that way,” said Gigmor CEO David Baird. “There's a robust live music scene going on, simply because millennials in particular really value the experience of live music, so musicians have an economic imperative to perform live.”

A veteran of the tech industry, Baird said the idea for Gigmor came after relocating from New York City, where he headed AOL’s e-commerce efforts during the company’s heyday. Having played paying gigs for years as a guitarist, Baird assumed he would be able to integrate into LA’s music scene. That proved easier said than done.

“I had always played in bands on the side where we would get paying gigs at clubs and private parties, and when I moved to LA, I thought it would be easy to find compatible musicians and gigs to play,” he said. “I was wrong. I saw that the whole way bands tried to get gigs was really, really inefficient, and coming from a technology background, I thought: 'This is something that could be easily solved.'”

So Baird and his team got to work, opting first to develop a community that helps local musicians find and collaborate with other like-minded artists. But the plan, he said, was always to develop the site into a two-way marketplace for musicians and music venues.

“As a bootstrapped startup, we knew that the live music marketplace was where we wanted to go, but we thought that musician matching was a great place to start,” said Baird. “It allowed us to build up a base of independent musicians that we could use to populate the marketplace.”

To date, Gigmor has facilitated more than 1,500 gigs in the U.S. and Canada, generating approximately $600,000 in revenue for artists.

“Music and technology sometimes get together, and sometimes they don't,” said Baird. “There's no question that the current way of doing things has a lot of wasted time and inefficiency. Clubs are overwhelmed with solicitations from bands they've never heard of, so we’re proving that we provide greater value than how they do things now.”


Images via the Creative Commons.

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