Live music marketplace startup Muso has secured $1.5 million in seed funding, including from music moguls the Albert family, as it sets out to modernise the process of booking artists.
The round was led by early-stage investment firm Investible and Alberts Impact Capital, the new impact investment fund from Alberts, the company that first signed iconic Australian band AC/DC.
Unified Music Group also invested in the round, as well as several angel investors.
Founded last year, Muso is a platform designed to help venues find artists to perform at their events. But it also gives musicians access to more venues, and — crucially — helps get them paid on time.
Speaking to StartupSmart, founder Jeremiah Siemianow explains that co-founder Alan Jin is a musician himself, while fellow co-founder Brandon Crimmins has a background in venue management. Both have experienced the problems Muso is addressing first hand.
Siemianow comes from a sales background, and has experience working with agents.
“The strength of our team comes from the fact that we have such an executional background … we understand all parts of the industry,” he says.
“That puts us in good stead to navigate our way through an industry that has been so traditional for such a long period of time.”
Already, the startup is facilitating events in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and has seen about 900 gigs booked up.
While the core market is pubs, clubs, bars and social clubs, the co-founders have also seen bookings ranging from piano players at Sunday brunch to DJ sets in the gym.
Whatever venue they’re running, owners tend to have a vision in their mind of what’s possible, Siemianow says.
“Now they can actually execute on that.”
Best in the biz
This funding is pegged for helping Muso grow, with a focus on reaching as many venues as possible and getting more and more artists on the platform.
The founders are also working on building out the team, “so we can service everyone as best as possible”, says Siemianow.
However, as well as embarking on social media marketing and other promotion, they’re going to be focusing on “more hand-to-hand combat stuff”, jumping on the phone and setting up face-to-face meetings with potential users.
“It’s going to be hard work, but we’re rolling up our sleeves and we’re ready,” Siemianow says.
And, he adds, they’ve got the investors on board to best help them do that.
Investible has “a wealth of experience in investing in early-stage companies”, he explains, including various investments in other marketplace startups.
Getting Albert Impact Capital on board was “a very music-industry driven, strategic approach for us”, the founder adds.
The Albert family have “a deep pedigree” in the Australian music scene, he says, and the team will be looking to the investors for industry-specific support and advice.
“They are some of the most respected people in the industry,” Siemianow says.
“It’s great to be able to align with an investor who has the same mission as us, to create a sustainable music industry for generations to come.”
Siemianow and the Muso team have their sights set on changing the Aussie music industry for the better, and they’re only just getting started.
“We’re very ambitious people,” he says.
“We are proud that we’re starting to make a difference, yes. But we don’t feel like we’ve even landed on top of the iceburg yet to scratch the surface,” he adds.
“There’s a lot of work to be done.”
The startup is now going to be pushing into more rural and regional areas, helping liven up local bars. Ultimately, the founders are thinking internationally.
Siemianow has a vision of Australian artists being able to easily book themselves gigs overseas, and even “actually set themselves up a tour”.
But, one step at a time.
“They’re some really great big grand plans for us,” he adds.
“We need to make sure our backyard is always looked after, and that we can cultivate a really strong, glowing live music industry here in Australia.”
Keep your chin up
Having completed Muso’s first capital raise, Siemianow advises other founders thinking about doing the same “it will likely take twice as long as you expect, so plan accordingly”.
But, he also notes that often when one door closes, another opens.
“We were lucky enough that when a reasonably big opportunity didn’t quite work out for us … it allowed us to actually meet the people who are now leading our round,” he explains.
And, there’s no shortage of startup funding available.
“It’s actually about finding who the best fit for you is,” he adds.
Of course this means there can be some disappointing moments in the process, but managing setbacks is “part and parcel of being a founder”, he says.
One of the characteristics that helps make a startup successful is “having the grit and the resilience to keep going”, he adds.
“You’ve got to keep your chin up.”