By David Duran
Booking an artist for an event just got a lot easier and affordable. Here It Local, a new startup helps facilitate the process of booking your favorite artist or new undiscovered band. The web-based business run by partners Matt Lombardi and Glenn Shope helps event hosts find the perfect musician for their event by featuring video, tracks, social media and other content to showcase the online musician profiles.
Currently, the site offers over 3,000 active musicians and bands across twenty US cities. Unlike other booking platforms, they enable event organizers to pre-sell tickets to their live music event, making it easy and affordable for anyone to host a private live music event.
Hear It Local has also launched a Facebook app called GetBooked, which brings the functionality of the site to Facebook.
“Once a musician installs the app, it empowers fans to book a live music event and facilitates the booking right from the musician’s Facebook page,” said Lombardi. The app has helped kick start a new “House Concert” movement as fans are hiring their favorite musicians for private concerts in their homes for less than it costs to go out to a show with a few friends, according to Lombardi.
Lombardi and Shope became friends several years ago due to a shared love of live, independent music. The concept of Hear It Local came out of a mutual frustration with the “difficult to navigate” live music scene in San Francisco, according to Lombardi. “When I first moved to the city, I had a really hard time figuring out where to find great local shows and where the local musicians played,” he said. Shope, who’s been a musician for 20 years, agreed and felt perplexed by how inefficient the booking process was for musicians.
“Many musicians spend more time trying to get booked than actually playing music,” said Lombardi, “and we launched Hear It Local as a way to streamline live music for fans, promoters and musicians.” The partners listened to users and implemented ideas directly from them as the site grew from a few hundred artists to thousands. The idea behind their Facebook app came directly from their users. “I now feel like Hear It Local has taken on a life of its own,” said Lombardi.
From the start, both Lombardi and Shope kept their day jobs while working on Hear It Local on nights and weekends, in order to be able to finance their idea. Once the prototype was built and enough traction with musicians was established, they were able to raise a round of seed capital and commit to Hear It Local full-time.
Lombardi has been a member of StartOut from its inception and says that the networking and educational sessions have always been helpful at every stage of their business. In fact, the first public speaking he did on behalf of Hear It Local was at a pitch session hosted by StartOut at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. “After pitching our concept, we got tons of helpful feedback and support from investors, seasoned entrepreneurs, lawyers, and other professionals.”
StartOut has helped Hear It Local in tangible and intangible ways according to Shope. “We have met a lot of people through the organization that have either provided services or funding directly,” he said, “ and at the same time, it has helped us keep perspective by being able to see how other people are doing things and how they are handling challenges. They most recently met an angel investor at StartOut’s New York Demo Day.
Hear It Local is looking to become “THE” booking platform for independent music. In the past few months, they have expanded into twenty cities and they expect to launch in twenty more this spring. “
Their current business model is focused on giving fans access to their favorite musicians for house concerts and private events. In the future, the men see an opportunity to provide businesses, event planners and professional talent bookers better access to top independent talent. The company is currently run with two full-time employees and several part-timers.
Lombardi suggests to up-and-coming entrepreneurs that they should meet with as many smart and successful entrepreneurs and investors as possible, taking the time to learn about their startup experiences, successes, and mistakes. “Ask for their feedback on your concept, approach to the market, product, and pitch deck,” he said.
Shope insists that having a narrow focus is the best way to begin. “Figure out what your simplest staring point is and put everything else on the back burner or shelve it indefinitely,” he said, “…put your focus on the essential parts of your business until you have that nailed, you can always embellish later.”