So what do the bands Journey and Kiss have in common? You can even add in Guns N' Roses, Metallica, and even Bruce Springsteen for extra credit. Give up? They’re all bands that found members through the classifieds — which, for the edification of you millennials, were small ads in the back of newspapers.
But times have changed, and if you want to find bandmates now you go to the Internet — likely Craigslist, because it’s free. However, if David Baird has his way, wannabes and once-weres can find like-minded souls with his 40,000 members at Gigmor.com.
Gigmor's founder describes the site as: “A directory that you can search based on music criteria, and increasingly we’re a booking engine that people are using to find talent for their venue or event.”
The idea is to let users upload interests, influences, location, level of proficiency and samples of their skills into a profile, which should make finding ska-influenced triangle players in the greater Des Moines area as simple as click-and-search. In many ways, it's like Myspace, but with more bells and whistles.
Baird recalls: “Myspace had between 12 and 15 million music and band profiles, which demonstrates the size of active market of musicians. The tech has evolved — Myspace didn’t have a matching tech, so we can take advantage of the mobile revolution and other advances to do something that’s even better.”
Tabitha Perez is a 21-year-old singer/songwriter from New Jersey who’s just recently signed up. She says the site's capacity for making contacts isn't its only great asset. "I’ve had not-so-great experiences through referrals," she says. "Some people don’t get it. Is Craigslist creepy? Sometimes."
"And being a girl is hard," Perez continues. "When you're a girl musician, lots of people are looking for more than to hear your voice. That was as struggle for me, so I’m really grateful that Gigmor exists now because it adds that level of professionalism that I was needing."
There are competitors out there. Myspace is still up-and-running, and there’s a site called ReverbNation. But Baird says his operation has talent-matching and community features others don’t. There’s even a plan to build some kind of metric that will rate band demos for club owners and give them a score.
And while it might be a cool idea on the nerd side of things, Baird admits it doesn’t sound all that rock and roll. “It's an art form," he says, "and while I’m a tech guy, I’m a big believer in human curation. All we want to do for buyers is filter out the 90 percent of solicitations that are just not relevant. They get hundreds of emails a day, and we can cut those down to the bands that fit their criteria.”
“The idea is fine, it’s all about the execution in my mind,” says Will Shubert, a bluegrass musician from Venice who plays a couple of gigs a month. He’s looked at the site and his only complaint is that, even with 40,000 members, when you spread them out all over the world, the talent pool can get a little shallow in your neck of the woods. Fortunately, Shubert says, "It should be able to work, especially here in Los Angeles where everyone’s a musician… or an actor.”
Finding more members — and also more funding — is the next step. Gigmor is one of the first companies on a new crowdfunding site called Startengine.com, where instead of getting a T-shirt or signed script for your money, you actually buy shares. And if that doesn’t work, Baird says they’ll just keep plugging away. Like the song says, it’s a long way to the top if you want to… crowd-source a social media startup.