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Marcus Fitzgerald has been working in the music industry for 15 years. For more than ten years he has been a festival organizer, artist consultant and manager and has brought acts like Clueso to the stages of Germany. Six years ago he founded gigmit, a B2B platform that brings musicians and organizers together without middlemen and women. The goal: concerts take place and the money goes directly to the musicians. How exactly does gigmit work? And how do you finance such a platform? We met the CEO and talked to him about loans, application systems, crowd investing and the future of the live music industry in the digital age.
CCB Magazine: Hi Marcus, you founded gigmit in 2012, a B2B platform that brings musicians and promoters together without any intermediaries. Isn't gigmit basically a job destroyer for bookers in the music industry?
Marcus Fitzgerald: No, not at all! gigmit even makes life easier for bookers. Because bookers can also use gigmit to make new contacts, expand their network and ultimately earn more money. Based on our data-driven strategy, bookers can also analyze much better for their own artists who and where the listeners are and thus target organizers more effectively. But of course gigmit facilitates the direct contact between artist and promoter. Intermediaries are not necessarily needed.
CCB Magazine: For those who don't know what gigmit is - a short crisp description please.
Marcus Fitzgerald: gigmit is an online platform for live music booking. Organizers, clubs and companies can easily find the right artists. gigmit is free of charge. For those who want to run their business more professionally, we have developed gigmit PRO, which costs musicians 19€ per month for a 12-month contract. As a musician, I can see which promoters have looked at my profile and will be ranked higher in the search results - similar to LinkedIn. Already with one booking per year you have refinanced this loosely.
The problem is that on the one hand, artist booking is becoming increasingly important, since 80 percent of a musician's income is now generated through the live business. On the other hand, artist booking is still largely characterized by analog and partly inefficient processes. We facilitate the process
CCB Magazine: What is the problem? Why does it need something like gigmit?
Marcus Fitzgerald: The problem is that on the one hand, artist booking is becoming increasingly important, since 80 percent of a musician's income is now generated through the live business. On the other hand, artist booking is still largely characterized by analog and partly inefficient processes. Demo tapes and e-mails are sent out in series by e-mail for arrangements before a single concert is organized. Artists are usually booked elaborately by analog, and agents decide where to place their artists on a gut feeling basis. They negotiate all the details with the organizers by phone and e-mail and create contracts and travel documents in Word and Excel. If additional data is used, this can only be done superficially and is associated with an enormous expenditure of time and high costs. We facilitate the process.
CCB Magazine: How exactly?
Marcus Fitzgerald: All information is accessible with just a few clicks on an artist page, which is optimized for the B2B market. Organizers can already find press information or technical conditions before the concert date is discussed. Sometimes it's only in the ongoing communication that you realize that the band does not fit on stage at all. To shorten this back and forth, event organizers give gigmit their available dates, bands say when they can play and the rest goes by itself. We accompany you through all the arrangements and then draw up the contracts automatically and neatly filed on gigmit. This reduces the effort and makes bookings possible within three minutes.
CCB Magazine: But does that ultimately pay off for the artists as well? You could do it all yourself.
Marcus Fitzgerald:Of course, that pays off. For example, if you as a band only get one show a year through gigmit, which is very likely through gigmit Pro, it will cost you about as much as if you would hire an agent for the gig. A free cancellation insurance is even included. We also do not charge any additional fees on the transactions. This means that the full fee paid to the artist by the organizer remains with the artist in the end - or with the booking agent, if he or she is involved.
CCB Magazine:Marcus, let's talk about money. Meanwhile more than 75.000 artists and 6.000 promoters use gigmit, more than 30.000 concerts have been organized through your platform. You have financed gigmit through various ways. How hard was it to set up gigmit?
Marcus Fitzgerald:At the beginning it was very difficult. First we had to use up all our savings, but we also found angel investors early on, without them we wouldn't have gotten very far. Many fail at this hurdle. For us, these were the first 30,000 euros we needed. We also got a loan from the IBB through the Pro FIT program in the amount of 400,000 euros. The European funding project INES is currently financing the important European developments with an additional 2 million euros. To apply for, receive and administer these grants is incredibly time-consuming, for me even more time-consuming than anything else.
CCB Magazine:Currently you also have a crowd investing campaign on seedmatch. Why another crowd investing?
Marcus Fitzgerald: We had talked to seedmatch as a crowd investing platform and realized: It just fits now. Because for the big banks we are still too much of a start-up and too unstable in terms of cash flow. The venture capitalists often give us feedback that we are not yet strong enough to grow. Crowd investing is a good alternative. It's not only a form of financing. It 's also a media campaign for the product.
Our potential lies in the fact that we now have over 80,000 users. And when hundreds of investors come from our own community and participate in the growth and success of the company, it's a healthy cycle
CCB Magazine: However, crowd investing is only of limited suitability for classic cultural or cultural industry projects, as many do not generate a return. What qualifies you for crowd investing?
Marcus Fitzgerald: Our potential lies in the fact that we now have over 80,000 users. And when hundreds of investors come from our own community and participate in the growth and success of the company, it's a healthy cycle. Crowd investing only makes sense, of course, if the product is promising. You also have to factor in about ten percent of the turnover that goes to service providers such as lawyers, graphic designers and marketing.
CCB Magazine:Who are your investors? Can you give us names?
Marcus Fitzgerald: No, I can't give you any names, because the data protection does not allow it. But what we do see is that on the one hand it 's our users themselves who tend to invest even larger amounts of money. On the other hand it's employees of big music companies like Spotify or Universal. And of course there are also classic financial investors, i.e. private individuals, for whom we represent a lucrative investment. Even my parents have invested, as well as my close circle of friends. I'm not afraid to recommend gigmit within my own ranks, because I know that it's money well invested and I fight daily to make it grow. At gigmit in general, investors such as Sony Music are involved, and that shows: Hey, this isn't just some idea from some indie promoters, but an economic problem that we are solving digitally here!
CCB Magazine:What do you offer your investors?
Marcus Fitzgerald: On the profile page of seedmatch you will first find a list of our goodies, which can be compared to a thank you at Crowdfunding. Furthermore you get a share of the profits and also the exit of the company. That means on the one hand, if we grow in sales, as a crowd investor I get a percentage X, which depends on how much money I have invested. For this there is a calculator at seedmatch that gives you an estimate, without any guarantee of course, how much you will get back from your investment. This is a mixture of loan and investment. The investment is first of all in the form of a loan for five years and is then paid back with a basic interest rate.
CCB Magazine: Marcus, where is gigmit in 10 years? And, what kind of music do you actually listen to?
Marcus Fitzgerald: We want to continue to grow. We will also have to adapt to technological developments, because what is new now will be common practice in the future, and what will present a problem to people in the future we will have to solve. That is what I'm working on. And to the question what I listen to: actually quite a lot, especially when it comes live from stage.
CCB Magazine: Marcus, thank you very much for the interview.
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