By: Corey McComb
Andy Altman is staring at a menu with road worn eyes. His itinerary the last month has included business meetings in Seattle, watching local bands every night while in San Diego, and most recently, a week of SXSW. It isn’t until he begins telling me stories of running around the streets of Austin in his orange tuxedo that his face lights up with the gleam of man living his dream.
Andy is the “Grand Poobah” of GigTown, an app that’s letting users tap into the local music scene from the comfort of a smartphone. Bringing the hopes and dreams of fans, artists, and venues into one digital embrace, GigTown has set out not only to simplify the way local music is discovered, but to cut the traditional corners on getting more bands onstage, more often.
Most importantly — It’s getting artists paid.
The idea, born out of a Coachella haze, came to Altman after his Dad called him asking how to book a last minute piano player for an event. He explains, “I’d been using Uber to get around that whole weekend of Coachella and the idea came to me– Uber for music”. Queue visions of banjo players in hatchbacks waiting for gig opportunities to pop up on their screen.
Most music festival epiphanies fade away with the last song played, but Altman returned home, dropped out of law school, and began building a rock n’ roll circus of his own.
The full potential of GigTown is still being realized, but the app hasn’t waited to make a splash in multiple markets. In its first year over 800 San Diego artists have joined, which rounds out to over 3000 GigTown artist profiles nationwide. A growing list of venues in Portland, Seattle, Austin, and San Diego have taken notice and are using the app fill their open nights.
“It’s a win-win for all parties”, says Altman. With the commercial-free local radio feature, fans discover new local favorites and can see where they play next. Venue owners swipe through to find acts they’d like to book, along with their rate and availability. And according to Altman, for bands it’s an easy decision, “There is no downside. Use GigTown to get more gigs, more exposure, and make more money”.
Between sips of beer and pho, Altman leans in to tell me his favorite part of GigTown. “The tipping feature has really helped the whole thing take off”. Anytime a user checks in at a GigTown show via the app, the performers receives a $5 tip courtesy of GigTown. Over $50,000 in tips have been paid out to local artists.
“I love it when I see bands check-in at their own shows.” says Altman. “It’ll start with one member. The next show it’s the whole band. Soon they’re announcing it on stage and asking the crowd to download the app.”
Austin, TX group SeVana Marimba just broke the GigTown record with 97 check-ins a recent show.
Adding to the overall ease of the process is the recently added “post a gig” feature, which allows anyone to post a gig opportunity and has resulted in shows being booked within 90 minutes. Altman says of the feature, “It’s such a seamless booking experience that we’ve legitimately Uberized music.”
“Uberization” aside, what sets GigTown apart from the ancient ways of talent buying is the exact thing it has in common with any other groundbreaking idea of the last decade. Their focus is connection.
Fans, artists, and venues taking the local scene into their own hands, in one place– GigTown.
Are you a GigTown artist?
On April 25th, GigTown is presenting “Local Music Appreciation Day” at the Music Box, where Switchfoot will perform a private show exclusively for GigTown artists. More info available here.