Harley Young chats to Kit Muir-Rogers, Co-Founder of the live entertainment and music marketplace

GigPig is a purpose-built platform designed to give bookers and venue managers unparalleled access to thousands of verified local artists. 

In a time where nurturing the hospitality industry is more important than ever, I spoke with Co-Founder Kit Muir-Rogers to learn how the platform is shaping the future of live entertainment using the power of technology. 

Culturally, music and hospitality are two of the things that we should be most proud of as a nation.

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An artist playing at GigPig's Manchester studios Image: GigPig

How did GigPig come about?

There's four founders, including myself. We built GigPig in 2022 as a response to the post-COVID landscape, really.

We all worked in music and management at the time. We were bookers for venues and all had businesses within the space, as well as a huge love for hospitality having worked in it for a number of years. So we were really well placed in that regard. 

I had an agency that was very artist-focused, supporting DJs and musicians with getting work. Andy and Mick, two of our Co-Founders, had a very similar business in the North East. They’d built a platform for themselves to be able to curate and manage the volume of music that they were booking. 

Then one of the venues told us post covid that they wanted to take everything in house and have an internal booking system. They wanted access to the artist marketplace without paying any agency fees. So that made us think ‘Both sides of the market have been hit so hard. We need to do something to grow music within the space and support the musicians.’ We wanted to help them get more work and take away those barriers to entry, of which there’s hundreds in the space and no real centralised solution, no set place to go and find what you’re looking for. 

We then created the platform to streamline the booking process for venues and artists to be able to match quicker. 

We went live with it in November 2022 so have just had our first full year on the market. In that time we’ve learned so much about how people would use the product, what their actual pain points were and that the value of GigPig was to them. I guess our mission statement is, by harnessing the power of technology and data, we want to build the largest global community of artists and venues to be able to collectively grow the offering of live music in the seed space. 

That’s venues with a hospitality focus; bars, restaurants, clubs, hotels, where music can play a pivotal role in the success of growing a business. 

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Kit Muir-Rogers, Co-Founder of GigPig Image: GigPig

Sounds like a match made in heaven. Great that you all have prior knowledge of this stuff, too. How does it work for artists?

So there’s two journeys. From an artist’s perspective, the platform is completely free - we’ll never charge an artist. There are people who skim the top of artists' fees, as well as charging venues a booking fee, but we think this is fundamentally wrong. 

With GigPig artists can sign up completely free using our quick and easy, five-minute process to create their profile. Here, they can add videos, links to their music and social channels, a little blurb about them as an artist and also add multiple profiles if they’re a multi-discipline band or solo artists. It’s basically your shop window for a venue to seek you out. You can also set minimum fees, so you only see gigs that are paying within your price range.

Once you’re up and running, you’ll start to see gigs come in and it’s as simple as saying ‘Yes, I’m available’ or ‘No, I’m not free’. When you accept a gig, the venue will then book you on and you’ll receive all the information you need such as the music briefs, what equipment is available or needed and the payment terms. Then, as soon as the gig is done, we’ve got streamlined invoicing features where the venue can download your invoice and pay it - you don’t have to worry about chasing it or anything, which is the tricky, time-consuming part as a freelancer. We’re trying to give artists the tools to run their own business. As a freelancer, you seem to have to be a marketing expert, financial director - the complete package - it’s like you have to be an expert of all these things to make it work. So we’re taking that train away. 

That’s brilliant. So how does the journey look for venues then?

For a venue, it’s as simple as the reverse. So you build your venue profile, add some pictures and videos so artists can see what sort of vibe it is, you know, a little bit about your concept. Once you’ve done this, you can access our constantly evolving database of musicians. There’s currently about 6,000 artists on there but it’s growing ten percent month-on-month, purely through word of mouth - we’ve not actually marketed to musicians yet. 

But yeah, once you have your venue page you’d select the dates for your event, share a vacancy based on your criteria and the genres you’re looking for - you can drill these down to be hyper specific. Then, you set your budget and voila, your request is live. 

Bands will then get in touch with you with their availability and, after the gig, you sign it off as complete and pay the invoice as all the details are in one handy place.

We’ve automated that back-and-forth. The most any venue will ever pay [GigPig] for an event is £10 per gig. So even if you booked a band for £1 million, it would still only cost you £10. It’s about 60-90% cheaper than using an alternative booking method.

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Artists playing at GigPig's Manchester studios Image: GigPig

Why is booking through GigPig better for both bands and artists than using another booking agent?

I think it's about the accountability from both sides. We're harnessing that power of technology with quite an archaic process. We're not doing anything differently to the process that you currently do, we’re just digitalising it. 

We’re not taking over the workflows that booker's and venues have, we're just empowering them to do it in a streamlined way and giving them the tools. It gives visibility to businesses of all sizes; whether you have a pub in Inverness or a national chain of bars, we’re providing that access to the marketplace by building the biggest database of musicians. 

The average additional earning for having live music in a venue, per venue, is £107,000 per year. So, if every venue in the seed space, every hospitality venue, played live music, the potential is around £2.4 billion of income to the hospitality industry. All the while, you’re giving artists a means to be able to make a really good living doing what they love. 

I think consumers want more bang for their buck these days. They don't want to sit and drink a £7 pint in a bar that’s dead. Think about the venues that you go out to - the ones that are doing really, really well will have some sort of music or DJ offering some sort.

It’s surprising how much nighttime industries like these do for our economy. It’s not just the event you go out to, you might pre drink somewhere or go to the shops that day to buy an outfit to go out in, you’ll get the tram on the way to the gig and a taxi back home. You might get a late night takeaway. It’s all these things that it stems from that contribute to our economy. 

Why do you think live music is so important, not just for our economy, but for communities as well?

It’s that reason to go out, that reason to not walk past somewhere. For me, you could be out in a venue having an after work drink before heading home and a band comes on; you know you’re staying for four more. 

A lot of the time, this entertainment is free for the consumer as well. How lucky are we to have these sorts of venues that provide free access to culture and art? In a time where prices are going up - yes, you might pay for the beer or the food at a venue - but the entertainment, the social aspect, is free. How fucking cool is that?

Culturally, music and hospitality are two of the things that we should be most proud of as a nation. It’s the core of our heritage and we do both really well, so it’s important that we continue to nurture that. 

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The four founders of GigPig Image: GigPig

Are you a restaurant, bar or venue looking to invest in your live music offering? Read GigPig’s Live Music Index for more information.

Follow Harley Young on X @Harley__Young

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