Encore, a U.K. startup and graduate of Entrepreneur First, is another example of a company attempting to disrupt the traditional agency model. Targeting booking agencies, it lets you find and book a musician or band online for your event. The marketplace has already attracted over 18,000 musicians, and I’m told 30 per cent are active each month.
To further grow the company, Encore is disclosing that it has raised just over £560,000 in Seed funding. It plans to use the new capital to expand its team and begin paid marketing in a bid to increase the demand side of its marketplace.
Noteworthy is that Entrepreneur First itself has participated in the round. The investment is the first made public from the company builder’s new £40 million “Next Stage Fund”, which it set up to back alumni companies with follow-on funding.
“Finding great musicians for your venue or event is a nightmare,” says Encore co-founder James McAulay. “The booking process is clunky and slow, often takes weeks, and once you’ve finally found the right group or musician, confirming the booking involves a minefield of contracts, invoices and old-school payments. After this, the telephone calls and text messages begin, along with organising the logistics of the venue and deposit payments… the list is endless”.
In addition to making it easier to book musicians and bands, McAulay says that Encore aims to improve pay and conditions for the musicians themselves by cutting out (and replacing) the traditional agency middle person. “Musicians are tired of being ripped off by traditional agents who take a large cut and often don’t have the musicians’ best interests at heart,” he says. “Encore brings transparency to an industry that desperately needs it”.
The site works as follows: those putting on an event simply submit the type of musician or band they wish to hire, providing details like instrument, genre, and time and place. Encore then takes that information and sends out an alert to matching musicians and bands who are registered on its mobile app.
Musicians that are available and interested then respond with a quote and the booker can check their profile and Soundcloud links etc., and ask any follow up questions before making a booking. Payment is then processed via Encore, which takes a 15 per cent booking fee along the way.
“Instead of forcing customers to browse directories of musicians who may not be available, we ask for one enquiry that is then sent to local performers,” explains McAulay. “Available acts respond with a tailored quote for the event, usually within twenty minutes, giving the client a shortlist of suitable acts to choose from. Quick, simple and efficient”.