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Celebrities on the blockchain: How this Aussie founder is trying to fix the talent booking industry

Dominic Powell /

ACTA

The A.C.T.A team. Source: Supplied.

After the hype-filled boom of 2017-18, some might think there’s no industry existing which hasn’t been put on the blockchain, but one Aussie entrepreneur is showing there’s still room to innovate.

Having been in the talent booking and events management space for 20 years (after a brief stint as a lawyer to “keep Mum happy”), Harris Meitanis is well-versed in the issues plaguing entertainers and celebrities, both big and small.

Meitanis runs a number of different companies in the industry, including record label iSPY Records and events and entertainment company APE Events. He tells StartupSmart he’s been working on his most recent venture for the past four years, finally taking the wraps off late last year.

Today, Meitanis’ business the Associated Celebrity Talent App (ACTA for short) is up and running, being used by big-name Australian celebrities and entertainers such as Molly Meldrum, Megan Washington, Sophie Monk and Paul McDermott.

Meitanis explains one of the biggest issues for talent landing jobs is the quagmire of middlemen, fees and unauthorised endorsements associated with lining up an opportunity, and decided to launch ACTA as a solution.

“ACTA facilitates the procurement and curation of celebrity talent, and we’re using blockchain technology to eliminate 90% of time, effort and margins for resourcing all manners of services in the entertainment industry,” he says.

Harris Meitanis. Source: Supplied.

“It cuts out the middlemen and lets the actual representatives of artists deal directly with clients. We’re universally laying a foundation of transparency. What we do in this industry is so mired in darkness that this level of transparency is the only light available.”

This transparency is driven by blockchain technology, specifically the Ethereum blockchain. Talent or their management create the contracts and then, in turn, they are signed by clients. These contracts are immutable and embedded in the blockchain, providing proof of contract and payment for all to see.

The blockchain aspect also allows secure and confidential transferral of details between parties, along with confirming both parties are paid the correct amount, and on time.

ACTA is just one part of Meitanis’ overall platform, dubbed the Event Ecosystem. The startup has also recently launched GET (Global Event Talent), a sister platform to ACTA focused specifically on booking smaller entertainers and performers.

The founder says a third part of the platform is in the works, which he describes as an “Airtasker for events”.

“I just came off the Australian Red Hot Chilli Peppers tour, and we spent a lot of time with the production staff. I shared with them what we’re doing and they were very excited,” he said.

“They told me every time they land in a new country they need 20-30 extra staff like stage runners, merch managers, all manner of things, so our new platform will give them a way to hire those on demand.”

A two-part platform

Another big part of ACTA’s platform is the app itself, which goes beyond just facilitating the payment between client and management. ACTA’s app also provides a centralised location for documents, communication and notifications, ensuring management, clients and talent are all kept in the loop.

“It’s a two-part platform: the first provides them with the direct contracting and payment, and the second part is the real guts of the content management system and real-time events management.

“The current method is just everyone emailing and calling each other, but we’re so confident in this tech that we think no one will go back to the old way of looking through email trails with old copies of documents. We’ve eliminated all of that.”

ACTA is free to use for talent and management, with the platform charging clients a 10% fee that is capped at $5,000. Meitanis says the level of automation on the platform means his overheads are minimal, allowing the company to offer lower rates.

So far, both talent and clients are seeing the benefits of ACTA, with Meitanis saying many of them appreciate the reduced friction for booking and organising.

“The goal is definitely to be the ubiquitous software solution for the industry. These platforms have been built and designed from the ground up, and we’re hoping they make people question why they’d keep using the status quo,” he says.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the former features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.