Muzeek: Connecting Artists & Venues
For the uninitiated, Muzeek is an online marketplace that allows venues or collectives (management, labels, agents, etc) to search for artists and vice versa. The platform allows artists to create a free “electronic press kit” aka a profile page, in which they show a bio, images, link videos (via Youtube), samples of their music (via soundcloud), their social media accounts and (most importantly) a calendar. Interested booker’s can see if an artist is free on the dates they need and click the dedicated ‘Book Button’ to hire them.
Venue’s create similar profiles with a calendar of available dates and a Google map showing it’s location. This not only serves to promote the venue’s upcoming live events, but also allows artists to directly contact it to request gigs. Which is great for bands who are planning a tour and are looking for extra gigs to fill dates.
Unique to Muzeek is the ‘Book Button’ and it’s the first of its kind within the entertainment industry. The button acts similarly to Facebook’s ‘Like’ button, in that it can be placed virtually anywhere online and allows artists to be booked externally (from Muzeek) but with the same functionality & processes. Bands can then place it on their blogs, websites, Tumblr, etc. and create permanent on-going gig opportunities for themselves.
Another great feature, is the ability for users to create, (upload or import) their own custom contracts and payment options (in the settings) which is legally binding and displayed as ‘terms’ during the booking process. The users (booking agents & artists) then ‘accepts’ those terms as a digital contract, effectively doing away with the paper version.
Booker’s, venues and their agents can search for artists by genre, location, availability and costs. To use the service, venue’s can pay a AU$100 (per month) subscription or an 8% fee per booking (on top of the artist’s booking fee). The site also contains tools that artists and agents can use to manage performance fees, contracts and payments.
A report in 2011, commissioned by the Australian Performing Rights Association and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society, found that in 2009, AU$1.21 billion was made in revenue from 328,000 performances within the 3094 (small to middle sized) live venues in Australia. In addition, the sector created the equivalent of 15,000 full-time employees during that year.
Traditionally, artists and bands (who don’t have a agents) have gotten their gigs via word-of-mouth recommendations or personally approaching venues, and in-order to make any kind of living they would need paid performances of (at least) three gigs per week.
We’ve all heard, know someone or have experienced those gigs where the cost to perform was greater than any kind of payment, particularly for bands/artists who are just starting out. Add to that the high costs of gear and instruments means that often times musicians have to make ends meet by other employment, busking, teaching, playing for hire or playing backup for other people.
Booking agent Paul Stix, from The Musique Agency, manages 25 full-time artists and regularly books them for festivals, pubs, corporate events, etc. Stix knows full well the minefield of music promotion and how tough-going it is for bands and artists that don’t have professional management, to get (and maintain) gigs each week.
“It’s a really good tool for an emerging artist who doesn’t have an agent but wants to be perceived in a professional manner,” Stix says (source).
Currently Muzeek has around 8500 active profiles (a huge portion of which is Australian) but the platform’s founders hope it will revolutionise live music booking the way mp3 compression did to traditional album sales. Danny Fiorentini, Muzeek’s Co-Founder has said he see’s the platform as the musical equivalent of the accommodation booking website AirBnB.
Whilst it’s commonly accepted that the digital age has permanently changed the way people access, purchase and listen to music, the same can’t be said of performance, “people forgot about live music”, Fiorentini says.
The Las Vegas born Fiorentini initially moved to Australia to study a Masters at the University of Sydney and before he started Muzeek, he co-founded the music label, Outbox Records.
Fiorentini told Founders Grid:
“While I was attempting to book more shows for our label, it dawned on me that this was a far too difficult process in a much evolved digital age for the music industry. Everyone seemed to be focused on providing the best digital outlets for music but booking seemed to be left in the virtual dust, as far as progressively modernizing its processes.”
“The biggest challenge is definitely adapting quickly to our venues’ needs…We went out and spent over a year gathering feedback from the industry.”
In addition to winning the recent Good Design Award, earlier this year Muzeek received AU$250, 000 in seed funding from The Sydney Angels investment group.
Blue’s artist Matt Ross has been playing the Sydney and regional circuit for 25 years in all kinds of venues, from large to small, all over Australia. Ross told the Sydney Morning Herald that he see’s Muzeek as a great opportunity for indie artists to promote themselves to new venues, and to not only gain more gigs but to have them booked well in advance.
“It’s something that needs to be brought into a more current, streamlined form,” Ross says. “I believe artists should work with venues to create prosperous gigs.”
If you’re interested in checking out Muzeek or creating your own profile (and if you’re a live musician why wouldn’t you) head over to its website: http://www.muzeek.com/