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Interview with Andy Altman, CEO and Co-Founder of GigTown

Andy Altman, CEO, Co-Founder of GigTown

Andy Altman, CEO, Co-Founder of GigTown

GigTown is a free mobile app that makes it easier than ever for local music fans and venues to discover, follow and book their favorite musical artists. Offering a wide selection of musicians, users have the ability to book quickly and easily, in advance of an event or at the very last minute. By eliminating the complexity from booking live music, GigTown empowers musicians to pursue their passion and brings live music right to the door of their fans. GigTown was founded by Steve and Andy Altman and is based in San Diego, California. For more information, please visit www.gigtown.com.

1. Tell me about how you first came up with the idea of GigTown.

It was a number of things coming together. First, my dad and I have always wanted to start a company together and have been brainstorming for as long as I can remember. We have a laundry list of ideas dating back years and years with ideas ranging from music to security to consumer goods. Second, my parents do an annual fundraiser called “Rock the Cure” where they book national and local acts. They’ve been doing it for nine years now and have had artists such as Sugar Ray, Steve Miller Band, Styx, and Foreigner headline the show. So, they’ve been exposed to the difficulty of booking live music.

Lastly, I went to Coachella in 2014 and used Uber extensively to get to andfrom the festival. I got back from Indio on April 21, called my dad and started chatting about the experience. For whatever reason, he asked how hard it would be to hire a pianist to come over and play music for him if he wanted some live music while hanging out with his friends. It was “Uber for Music” which is cliche, but that’s how it started and from the moment the idea was out there, we jumped on it and didn’t look back.

2. How do you think GigTown will change the music industry?

The biggest way GigTown changes the music industry is by opening up tons of new gig opportunities for artists. There are so many talented musicians out there, but nowhere near enough opportunities for them to play. We change this in a variety of ways. First, anytime someone downloads the app, they
are a potential new venue. No one thinks about booking live music for the vast majority of events nowadays because they think it is complicated, time consuming and expensive. It doesn’t have to be, and with GigTown, it no longer is. Over time, we will change the general public’s mindset about
booking live music and grow the market for live music as a whole.

The other way GigTown changes the music industry is by proving the value of live music to venues of all types. Currently, artists are generally valued by their ability to sell tickets. However, there are so many musicians out there that play around town on a consistent basis, gigging at restaurants, bars and coffee shops, none of which sell tickets, but all of which benefit immensely from having live music. We’ll be able to give venues meaningful data on what they can expect from booking a given artist and show them information after the fact to prove whether or not they in fact benefitted
as we expected.

Bottom line, we’re going to make live, local music incredibly accessible to music fans and venues – thereby giving local musicians a platform upon which to build a career and ultimately thrive.

3. What made you come up with the “Check In” tipping feature?

From the start, our feeling has been that artists would be our best sales force if we can only align our interests in the right ways. We wanted to do it in a way that sent the right message – we never want artists to feel like they’re selling out because they’re not. So the tipping program made a lot of sense. It’s a way for music fans and venues to support the artists they love for free.

Everyone wants to support local music but it’s easier said than done, and most people don’t put their money where their mouths are. So we’ll do it for them, and in the meantime, we’ll get more artists signed up and music fans on board!

4. How would you define the GigTown experience and what is your vision
behind the app?

In a market like San Diego where we’ve launched and really made a lot of progress, the GigTown experience is essentially a portal into the heart of your local music community. You can discover all kinds of amazing music you never knew existed, let alone in your backyard. You can find shows
happening around you at venues from coffee shops to concert venues. As you do so, you’ll realize that all these musicians are incredibly accessible and, at the click of a button, you could bring someone to your house to create a unique experience that you didn’t know was possible.

The vision behind the app is to create a community where local musicians, venues and music fans are able to seamlessly support each other and grow together. Venues and event planners have unparalleled access to musicians and their respective fans. Booking those artists is easy and bringing their fans out to shows is straightforward as well. And as those fans come out to more shows and see some amazing local musicians perform, their mindset on booking live music changes over time. Long term, party hosts will ask the question, “what musician are we booking?” in the same sentence as “what are we doing for food and drinks?”

5. What’s the company’s plan for the next year ahead?

Grow into new markets like New Orleans, New York, Portland, and continue growth in Nashville, Austin, Seattle, and San Diego. Also, improve the app, add web functionality, and strengthen the connection between musicians, venues and fans. Lastly, get event planners and venues aware of what we’re doing and show them that we can make their life easier in multiple ways!

6. What has been your favorite experiences so far since starting GigTown?

I absolutely love the experience of exploring a new music community as we get ready to launch there. It’s so much fun meeting artists, venues and music fans and learning what makes their music scene tick. Every city is different and the flavors of music are different as well. Seattle has an incredible soul/funk/jazz scene that I haven’t seen anywhere else. San Diego is perhaps the best for ‘easy listening’ music. Austin is straight-up weird, but in the coolest of ways.

The talent pool in Nashville is insane. I find it so much fun to compare cities as we get more musicians on board and as I learn about the different ‘pockets’ of each music scene.

7. What cities is GigTown currently in and what ones are next up on your

We’re currently in San Diego, Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles and Nashville. Coming up next, we’ve got New York, New Orleans, Portland, and hopefully San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Boston and Atlanta soon to follow!

Andy’s Bio – CEO, co-founder and “grand poobah” of GigTown*

Growing up, Andy Altman knew he would someday create a business with his father Steve Altman, GigTown co-founder and former President and Vice Chairman of Qualcomm – it was something instilled in him since childhood. Growing up, the two chat frequently about what they would call their first company. After brainstorming about several business ideas, Andy and Steve knew they had something special when they came up with the initial idea of having an “Uber for Music.”

Combining a passion for local music and wanting to create a platform where artists and people could instantly engage and connect in a new way, Andy and Steve founded GigTown. Andy defines the GigTown experience as simply being the introduction to the local music scene – it’s your go to source
for what’s happening around town and is a tool for artists to book various gigs they may have not had the opportunity to book before. With the help of GigTown, Andy looks forward to bringing the community together by fostering successful collaborations and opportunities for everyone.

Andy, a San Diego native, graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Symbolic Systems and recently earned his MBA from University of San Diego. When he’s not GigTowning, Andy enjoys playing the ukulele and experimenting with beats. He also likes to go to live shows, travel the
world (fun fact: he’s been to 31 countries) and can’t deny his lifelong obsession with the color orange (even the company car is painted GigTown orange). After searching for some fun name ideas, Andy decided to name himself Grand Poobah – someone who holds power but displays humbleness. He
lives his life by knowing he can learn so much from others and never wants to take himself too seriously, but instead takes what he does seriously. In five years, he hopes GigTown is a household name in mid to major size cities and become a one stop-shop for artists, local music fans and venues
looking to further grow their network.

About Andrej Kostresevic

Andrej writes about the accelerating seizmic shift from broadcast to OTT video, with a mix of business and technical perspectives. He is the CEO of Nomads, a mobile engineering company focused on OTT video. Nomads have launched some of the highest visibility OTT products in the last decade, including the flagship product for the top US sports league, and a connected device play for the nations leading broadcast provider. Their latest product, NomadTV, is helping small to medium sized content owners deploy OTT products overnight, and with no up-front cost.

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