Wednesday, August 30, 2017
How Gigmor Is Looking To Connect Musicians With Gigs, with David Baird
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Santa Monica-based Gigmor (www.gigmor.com) is an online marketplace for musicians, and recently expanded beyond connecting musicians with each other, to connecting musicians with venues, club organizers, and others. We caught up with the company's founder and CEO, David Baird, a former AOL executive, to learn more about what Gigmor is working on.
What is Gigmor?
David Baird: We're a live music marketplace. Essentially, it's an online marketplace connecting independent musicians and bands with festivals, private parties, weddings, etc.
How did you start the company?
David Baird: We really began as a musician matching site, kind of a LinkedIn for musicians. We were addressing the needs of musicians to collaborate and find each other. That was part of the strategy to evolve into what we have now the marketplace, but really just dealing with the supply side with the artist. We grew to about 50,000 musicians and bands using our music matching service, where we match people based on a proprietary formula for musical compatibility. Our goal was to reduce the inefficiency and friction in music, helping musicians to find each other. Two months ago, we extended into a two sided marketplace, to help talent seekers and people looking to hire musicians. The way we reached that, was we saw that people were starting to use our site to discover and book talent. However, that was not exactly how the site was optimized. The new site is focused entirely on creating a more efficient, online marketplace, that helps bot sides help each other.
What's your background and how did you get into this?
David Baird: I've been a musician since I was five, studying classical piano, and evolved into guitar like so many other people. I've been in bands for a long time. In lots of the cities I've lived in, I've usually been the band leaders, and the person who tried to find the gigs, so I'm pretty familiar with this area. I've also been in technology since I was AOL in the 90's. This, ideally, puts those pieces together. The genesis of Gigmor, is I had moved to LA, and had the mistaken assumption that it would be pretty easy to find musicians to recreate my band, and that it was be easy to find gigs. I found out that I was wrong on both counts. I figured that it was a problem shared by millions of other musicians and bands, and the opportunity to put the two sides of my experience together.
That's an interesting way you decided to bypass the marketplace, was that intentional?
David Baird: We bypassed it in that sense that we already had 50,000 artists to start with. We actually started with the musician matching site, because it was a smaller technology challenge. We knew that, along the way, achieving a critical mass of talent would help us implement the marketplace. Obviously, in a marketplace, you need both sides of an equation. It was really hard in the beginning. We're fortunate that we've been able to kickstart the marketplace, by having so musicians and bands already in place. Along the way, we've also attracted almost 1,000 talent seekers, from event planners, to venue managers, to talent managers. We did not start from scratch on that side, either. I can't imagine starting a service, like Airbnb, Uber, and other now famous marketplaces, and starting with zero users on either the supply or demand side. It's tremendously hard. I think we've got an advantage, to kickstart this, and move faster than they were in the early days.
What markets are you in right now?
David Baird: We're primarily in North America, in the US and Canada, though we have users in 30 countries in total. The bulk of our users are in the U.S. and Canada. We're pretty much in every major market, particularly in music strong communities, like Los Angeles, New york, Nashville, and Toronto. But, we're pretty much in every small, medium, and large city in North America.
How does this work as a business?
David Baird: At the moment, it's all free. We're in beta mode, which means we haven't implemented any monetization strategy. Our plan, is to ultimately implement artist-based subscriptions, where essentially artists will pay for access to paid gigs. They'll still have a lot of the basic services, the ability to create and account, and profiles for free, but we hope to build this primarily on a subscription model, built on paying gigs.
How are you backed?
What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far?
David Baird: That's a great question. How long do you have? (chuckles) I've been in a large organization like AOL, with really large groups of engineers, and I think the biggest lesson I've learned, as with many entrepreneurs with an idea, you tend to try to use contractors and offshore services. It took me awhile, to realize how many advantages there were to having a local team. Obviously, it's more expensive, but I resisted that for too long. I'd start right away with a strong, local team, so that there would be no communication issues, so we could start up faster, so there would be more coherence to the code base, as well as to the process. I think people tend to be tempted to use something like Upwork to try to use the many talented engineers around the world, but there's a real advantage to having the ability to have several people sitting in the same room, day after day.
Finally, what's the next big goal for you?
David Baird: We have a deep product pipeline, with lots of enhanecments planned. We feel that what we've started with, a platform and marketplace, and lots of other enhancements, will make the experience more addictive and compelling, particularly for the talent seekers. In the longer term, we see that data is going to be a big part of live music, and even though that's the case with the higher end of the market, for independent artists, there are not a lot of metrics and analytics that help talent buyers at clubs get an idea of a band's potential draw or ticket sales.