The Business of Live Music | with JamBase Founder and CEO Andy Gadiel

Andy Gadiel is Founder and CEO of JamBase.com, a music service dedicated to providing the most complete, accurate and timely concert information available anywhere. JamBase provides concert data for AOL, Billboard and Amazon, as well as hundreds of thousands of members. Gadiel also serves on the Board of Directors for HeadCount and The Rex Foundation.

By Chris Borchert

Tell me a little bit about JamBase and what kind of services you offer.

JamBase is a live music service for fans and the music industry. We let fans know what shows are happening in their area, when their favorite bands are coming to town and what’s happening with the music they care about. We host a comprehensive Show Finder listing every show imaginable in the known universe.

Music fans can track their favorite bands and get alerts when they announce shows in their area, save shows to their calendar and get reminders a few days beforehand. Fans can also connect with friends and see what shows each other are going to and get recommendations on concerts. We maintain a vibrant Newswire service with tour & album announcements, festival news and general live music news. We also publish featured articles, interviews and Photo Galleries spanning a wide range of live music styles.

On the business side, we work with Promoters, Venues, Festivals, Artists and Labels to deliver cost-effective advertising and direct marketing around concerts, festivals and albums. We also power other sites and apps with concert data: AOL’s TourTracker.com, Billboard, Amazon. For AOL & Billboard – we provide a feed of concert dates which are then made available in their services. Because concert info is so dynamic – new shows being added, changes, etc…it’s an important service for other sites. Events happen.

What do you see as the biggest impact of digital media on live music – either with regard to the fan side or the business side?

I think access to information on who’s playing where and a lower barrier to reach the right fans. It used to be that fans had to wait for a physical newsletter or call a hotline to find out concert dates. Now the word spreads instantly when shows are announced. It’s easier than ever before for people to find out about the stuff that matters most to them. And they don’t even have to go look for it. It comes to them!

What comes to mind here is Twitter – and I know Twitter plays a big role in how you spread concert news to fans.

Yes :) Twitter has become a personalized news service. We Tweet out all our news & articles and it’s become a huge asset for bands to connect directly with fans. I use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. I like to keep up on what’s the latest innovation in the digial media space, without getting too sidetracked or blinded by the next bright and shiny object. There are a lot of technologies out there which are solving problems that don’t exist just yet. I’m always looking at ways to apply this wonderful tech stuff to the music world, which is often a little slow to adopt the next thing.

I know JamBase likes to work with independent artists as well as major acts. Can you speak to the differences in working with both types of artists, and maybe the challenges involved with each?

Yes. We love working with independent artists, that’s how we got started. Our biggest joy is discovering a band and spreading the word. Jambase was created because I wanted to know when my favorite bands were coming to town and then tell everyone I knew about them, so I created a big bullhorn for live music information. The flipside to knowing what you love and spreading the word is that someone else is going to get turned onto something they will fall in love with. That’s what we try to empower with the service, both in our own editorial efforts as well as the tools we give fans to spread the word.

The beauty of independent artists is that they’re unknown. People are always looking for new music. Major Acts are more of a known quantity, but people still need to be reminded when they’re coming to town.

Digital and social media have made music discussion and news dissemination very easy and highly effective. That said, do you see any challenges arising in the new digital space?

Noise. When you amplify everything, you hear nothing. Every solution creates a new set of problems to solve. Mainly in the area of filtering out the stuff that doesn’t matter (the noise) and bringing in the most relevant signals. By the way, that quote was from Jon Stewart, I believe.

I think the great promise and opportunity of digital media is that it’s now easier and cheaper to send a message to more people than it ever has been in time. You just need something worth saying. And it needs to go to the people who care. Whenever things get too complex in our business, I sit back and say “I just want to know when my favorite bands are coming to town.”

I meet people all the time who miss out on shows and are bummed about it afterwards. And the kicker is that it’s for a band they know, and like. Forget all this new age recommendation stuff, people are still missing out on things they care about! It’s been a 10 year problem. Of course, then there’s all the new age recommendation & discovery stuff too :) That’s the fun stuff.

Can you talk about the logistics involved in compiling concert data?

Can I! When we started, it was all manual. And we’d key in dates for bands one by one. But when we started, we made it clear to bands, venues, promoters and even fans that if they knew about events which weren’t listed that they could add it themselves.
We still allow that, but over the years we have created a much more efficient and automated system for pulling in feeds from trusted providers. Ticketing companies, booking agencies, artist services like Artist Data and ReverbNation. We reconcile the incoming data with our existing database, match the band, venue and put it through an approval process. We’ve done a lot of work to make it streamlined, and there’s always more work to do. Our biggest goal is to have complete, comprehensive and accurate information.

One of the things I love about JamBase is that I can get all of this information for free. Where do you see openings for monetization?

Frisbees.

(laughs)

We actually used to sell frisbees, water bottles and t-shirts when we first started. Maybe we should do that again.

We work with promoters to spread the word to fans as cost effectively as possible. I think there’s a lot more work we can do in this area. Also I believe we can help solve some real problems in the industry about who to book or where to play based on the massive amounts of data we have.  We’re very focused right now on improving the user experience of the site for fans, and know that good opportunities will come from that.

That’s a great point. I know at least in the jam band scene, smaller tier bands will try and play shows in the same area as more popular acts.

Yeah we’ll often see a lot of ‘after parties’ pop-up around Phish shows. Which is great! That’s how I got turned onto some of my favorite bands. I still remember seeing The Disco Biscuits at the Wetlands Preserve in New York in 1998 on 12/29 and 12/30 after Phish starting at midnight. Some of the greatest concerts of my life.

I recently interviewed Kevin Browning of the Umphrey’s McGee crew and we spoke a lot about the impact of digital media on the in-person live experience. Do you see any other ways in which digital media impacts the actual in-person live music experience? I know sometimes I’ll take a glance at my Twitter feed during a set break at a show to see what other people are saying.

YES! For the people at the show, what you said – checking to see what others are saying…maybe. But moreso for sharing to the folks who aren’t there. Keeping their own digital scrapbook. Keeping a record for the people who couldn’t be there, tapping into the concert experience from home or work. And, of course, couch tour. It’s all about bringing the show to you.

Umphrey’s is amazing in how they’ve embraced technology to enhance the live experience with the UMBowl shows. Encouraging fans to text, as opposed to asking them to put their phones away.

JamBase also provides top brands with music marketing and data syndication solutions. Can you speak to this a little bit?

We work with brands who want to get involved in music. For example, we did a promotion with Gillette Razors last year about “Gigs Worth Shaving For” – which was a concert finder app. I’m not sure which Gigs AREN’T worth shaving for, but it was a fun promotion.

We’re always sensitive to the impact of advertising on our site and audience. We’re fans too, so we know what we’d want to be exposed to and see and tread carefully on what we’ll allow in or not. But we’re also a business, and it’s a fine line to draw. In the end, I always err on the side of the user experience and what’s most relevant and useful for fans. I said when we started, if the ads can also be informative, then we’ll be in business. Which is why we like working with promotions to spread the word about shows. It’s relevant!

We work with all sorts of different promoters, agencies and brands to figure out what’s going to work right for their product and our audience. It’s tricky business, but we’ve been doing it long enough to know what works. Still, we’re always looking for new opportunities and I think people appreciate when we get it right. And of course, always trying to have some fun with it.

And you have your own concert finder app?

Yes, we have Mobile Apps for iPhone & Android. It’s essentially our Show Finder. You can find out who’s playing in your area, when your favorite bands are coming to town and keep a show calendar.

(downloading now)

It syncs with your My JamBase account on the web, so anything you do on mobile will be there when you go back to your desk.
People love it for travel. You land in a new city, hit the locate button and it’ll tell you who’s in town. Or if you know you’re going to be somewhere in a few months, search by city and set a start date. Voila!

Is there any sort of base-line requirement that a band needs to meet in order to be included in your data?

Play live. We don’t list house parties – yet.

So if a band wanted to be included in your data, how would they go about doing that?

Artists > Add an Artist. First, the person who is adding the artist needs to set-up a personal account for themselves, the person, human being, fan, who is adding the information. Then they can add a band, and shows for the band. We approve everything, usually within 24-48 hours.

Do you spend much time or effort reaching out to smaller acts encouraging them to sign up?

Not as much as we should. We also want to get the word out to bands that if they tell their fans to track them on JamBase, we’ll alert those fans to when they’re coming to town automatically, for free! Need to figure out how to say that in 140 characters or less.

***

Kickshuffle is an online publication dedicated to covering the impact of technology on music and music business. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

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2 responses to “The Business of Live Music | with JamBase Founder and CEO Andy Gadiel

  1. Ola! Kickshuffle,
    Very interesting, Jambase is an awesome site that lets me know when all of my favorite musical artists are near me.

    Does anyone know of a collaborative website like that for comedians on tour? I can’t find anything that seems comprehensive. The sites with the most dates are ticket brokers. I’m looking for a site that remembers my favorite comedians, knows where I live, and I can easily look to see who’s near me (like JamBase). If there is not one that exists, there’s probably some money to be made there.

    For example: Kids in the Hall, Jim Gaffigan, and Jon Stewart will all be near me soon. George Carlin, Eddie Izzard, and Chris Rock are all doing shows,but nowhere near me.

    Right now I have to go to a ticket broker site and click on every name, one by one, and check there schedule. There’s got to be a better way.
    Nice One!

  2. Pingback: New interview on Kickshuffle.com: Andy Gadiel (JamBase)·

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