Long before signing a record deal or boarding a tour bus for a sold-out arena tour, countless aspiring bands and artists make the trek to Nashville, and spend night after night honing their skills before appreciative (if they are lucky) audiences in one of the numerous music venues throughout Music City.
For the men and women responsible for booking the talent in these venues, wading through performance submissions—a tangled mass of CDs, massive file attachments, and links to music samples across numerous websites−is a daunting task. Talent booking site Muzooka, founded by Ottawa native and entrepreneur Shawn Wilson, streamlines the booking process for venues (and by extent, for aspiring artists).
“I was hanging with Mike Grimes of [mainstay Nashville venue] The Basement and asked him, ‘How many demos do you get?’ When he told me that going through all the music submitted is one of the toughest parts of his day-to-day business, I saw an opportunity to help,” Wilson says.
With Muzooka, music venue owners can listen to numerous submissions from various bands in one centralized chart. Artists upload content to one site, and submit music for a performance slot at their favorite venues. The service is free for artists.
The Basement and The Basement East now use Muzooka as one of their main booking resources. Other participating venues include The Wildhorse Saloon, City Winery, Tin Roof, and Mercy Lounge. Popular Nashville music series Whiskey Jam will soon join the Muzooka stable.
The Ryman Auditorium has also signed on to use Muzooka for its Sam’s Place series, though Wilson stresses that venues like The Basement (approximately 100-person capacity) or Mercy Lounge (500) are more typical of the venues utilizing Muzooka.
Other venues utilizing the service include The Viper Room (Los Angeles), House of Blues (Dallas), and Roc Bar (Cleveland).
A prized attraction is Muzooka’s Discover feature. When an artist uploads a song, they can feature “the best 10 seconds of a song, like the trailer for the song,” Wilson says. Talent bookers listen through 10-second song segments, swiping left if they don’t like the song, and swiping right if they do like it. Songs that get positive swipes are sent in their entirety into the venue’s Discover playlist. “It’s like Tinder for music venue operators,” Wilson says.
Muzooka’s Partner Platform allows venues to discover great local talent. “Lightning 100 used it for their Music City Mayhem, as well as their Live on the Green contest. It would have taken them days to go through all the submissions, but with Muzooka, it took them a few hours.”
Wilson’s entrepreneurial background includes The Canadian Equity Group, which became a top-frequented mortgage website in Canada. He sold the business in 2004 and co-founded Strategic Sales Delivery, offering development and marketing for a new mortgage delivery platform. He also co-founded dating site Datepad.com.
“It’s about helping venues, booking agents and promoters quickly pass on bands until they find those gems, those really talented ones,” Wilson sums. “Though we focus on solving problems for venues and agents, inevitably, we actually solve one of the biggest problems for artists, because the number one thing most artists want to do is play live.”
For more information, visit muzooka.com.
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