Going South: Everywhere Roadie
In the lead-up to South By Southwest, TMN is profiling four Aussies heading to Austin for their first crack at the sprawling festival. First up: muso-run Melbourne startup Everywhere Roadie.
Everywhere Roadie is a little like Airbnb for gear hire – it offers the opportunity for people with a resource going spare to connect with the people who could use it. The benefit for musicians is twofold, allowing them to save money on renting amps and instruments when they’re on tour as well as making extra cash out of their gear when they’re not using it (with a charitable bonus, as the site donates 30% of profits to Support Act). So it’s no surprise that the site is the brainchild of two working musos: Kate Bradley of Dark Fair, and Liz Thomas of Ouch My Face and The Loveless.
“Everywhere Roadie was born out of frustration,” Kate tells TMN. “We are both in independent bands and we were constantly coming back from tours in deficits – it was just becoming really impossible to consider doing a tour or getting out and doing regional shows. There were occasions where we had spent more than our performance fee just on hiring gear from a traditional backline company alone… then there were the extra expenses of accommodation, van hire and flights. We just thought there has got to be a better way of doing this.”
TMN: What’s made the biggest difference in terms of making Everywhere Roadie a success?
Liz: I think when we first launched, it was getting the support of local artists and local labels. The word-of-mouth spread quite quickly from that initial response and we knew then that we had something that people needed and would use, and also that they felt a connection with. I think too, that being musicians ourselves and having experienced first-hand some of the issues means we really understand the challenges independent artists face and how we can address them and try and solve them.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Liz: There’s so much that we want to be doing on a daily basis, but we both work full-time jobs and have gigging bands of our own, so there was never a lot to spare in the first place. There’s just the two of us, so managing to cover all the various roles between us was a bit of a challenge initially. We both have skills that complement each-other (Kate has a technology and business innovation background, I have a music business and design background) so fortunately, we were able to balance that out pretty early on.
Going to SXSW is obviously a major step. How have you been preparing? What’s your game plan?
Kate: We’re headed to SXSW March to signal our ’launch’ into the US. It’s an incredible opportunity on many levels. Ultimately, we’re a still a startup and it’s our product that is leading us to growth. We want to fully capitalise on the SXSW experience and access the niche expertise and global knowledge the event attracts. So, we’ve been busy setting up meetings with new contacts. Austrade and Sounds Australia have already been very supportive to us as well and linking us to networking opportunities. We also intend on networking with bands from around the globe to enhance our membership while we are there too.
At what stage did you realise ER was export ready?
Liz: I think that the problem that we’re trying to help solve is experienced by musicians all over. I’d love it if my band could, for example, fly to Europe and use Everywhere Roadie to source all the gear, vans, techs and accommodation for the tour. I think soon after we launched and saw how quickly it was embraced and adopted by musicians, we realised that it could be a global service.
What are your expectations for SXSW? What are you most excited about?
Liz: We’re hoping that people connect with and embrace the service in the same way they have here. I’m excited to be on the ground talking to people, getting their feedback and seeing their responses to Everywhere Roadie. Outside of that I just can’t wait to take in as many events, keynotes and gigs as my body will let me! And of course the Aussie BBQ – It’s always comforting to see those familiar faces, feel a bit of home and just recharge a bit when you’re in such a chaotic environment. There’s so much on the schedule and we’ve only just really begun to make a plan, but we definitely can’t miss Cindy Wilson (B52s), Nile Rodgers, Chastity Belt, Zane Lowe, Jill Soloway and All Our Exes Live In Texas.
How valuable is bringing a whole bunch of creatives and industry folk together into one place?
Kate: There is obviously a marketing dimension to SXSW but it is also a huge knowledge hub. It’s a global knowledge network coming together to learn about new things and it enables people to develop new human connections that let’s say can potentially lead to new ideas emerging or further product innovation.
What’s next after SXSW?
Kate: Post SXSW we will be focused on building more functionality into the platform to address other needs our members have, as well as linking up with more businesses to benefit our members. We have quite a significant service roadmap to deliver over the next 6–18 months. We are also looking to build on our team too. It can’t just be the two of us for much longer. It’s a really exciting time.
What advice would you give to people trying to get a musician-focused service like this one off the ground? How do you recognise gaps in the market and get an idea going?
Liz: I think you have to be on the ground with the people you are trying to reach – you can’t just observe an issue from the sidelines and try and shove a solution in their face… you have to be experiencing it too. Also, show the faces behind the business…who are you? What do you do and why you are doing it? Reply to every email. Be accessible and let people connect with you.