Every once in while a new solution comes to market, and we all sit back and say “Now why didn’t I think of that?”
In recent years the number of grassroots music venues in the UK has declined drastically with the rise of gentrification of pubs and other traditional homes of live music.
Claire Barrett is founder of UGIGS, a subscription based music community where Uber meets Lemonrock. Claire has lived in London all her life, and been singing professionally since the age of 16. One of the biggest problems for the up and coming musicians is finding a suitable venue, and for venues to find and book artists of the style and genre they want. UGIGs was created to give gigging musicians control of where and when they play, and it can now be done with a few swipes on your phone.
“I see these young guys and girls, so talented, new in the industry – who would bite someone’s hand off to do a gig for 400 pounds. So I was like it’s such a shame these people [venues] cant cross paths.”[5:00]
After landing a record deal at 17, which then fell through, Claire started gigging with her friend Isaac around London—something that she is still doing over 20 years later. It paid well and became her full time job, with some of their shows being booked over two years ahead. So it’s not a stretch to say Claire has seen the bright and dark side of gigging in and around London.[11:40]
Claire had catalogued a host of problems plaguing gigging musicians in the area. Agents have been an issue. Some of the qualms are contractual but another issue is having to rely on a single person for work. One agent Claire had got her and her partner Isaac a gig at a pub, The Old Bill—a pub with a rowdy reputation. The agent hadn’t checked it out at all, and Isaac being a person of color was heckled by a rather racist crowd. This problem wasn’t new by any means. It was an issue plaguing musicians everywhere.[15:35]
Enter UGIGS – getting sent to venues that didn’t match Claire’s Motown style wasn’t a one off event. Many musicians encountered the same problem over and over again—ranging from having problems getting paid, traveling, and relying on others for work.
Claire has set out with UGIGS to put the power of finding shows in the hands of the venues and artists. Both can make accounts, post listings for shows, and message with artists directly. Fees are negotiated through messaging, as well as the hours, and contracts come up with the terms to be signed by both parties. Not only that, but artists and venues can rate each other to say whether or not they were a good fit for one another and how they both performed.
Presently UGIGS is free, even Claire herself has signed up and gotten gigs from the site (she was the first too, in fact). UGIGS shows no signs of stopping or slowing down, and Claire hopes to transition to a subscription service as they continue to offer more to both musicians and venues around London.