The Boston Globe’s weekly Ocean State Innovators column features a Q&A with Rhode Island innovators who are starting new businesses and nonprofits, conducting groundbreaking research, and reshaping the state’s economy. Send tips and suggestions to reporter Alexa Gagosz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sterling Stiger is the cofounder of Featr., a one-stop matching platform that pairs musicians with local performance venues and recording studios.
Q. How exactly does Featr. work?
A. Musicians can create a profile that serves as their musical “resume,” and share it with venues to request performance opportunities. Venues then respond to these booking requests and manage their scheduling system directly on Featr.
Q. What makes your platform different from an artist using another social networking app or independently calling venues?
A. The magic here lies in our unique matching algorithm, which provides a curated list of profiles for both musicians and venues to target the connections that are most aligned to their goals. Musicians also have the ability to match and connect with our diverse pool of artists, instrumentalists, and producers. Whether a musician is just looking to jam, or is rushing to finish their next album, our matching algorithm analyzes their musical preferences and personal qualities to curate a list of their compatible creative matches.
Q. How did you come up with this?
A. We are a team of musicians who have seen firsthand how relationships can either make or break dreams. The music industry is a relationships business, where networks are developed through trusted connections. For emerging musicians who are not “in the know,” it can be difficult for them to enter the music scene successfully.
We also found that musicians can spend up to 10 hours per week searching for gigs and contacting performance venues, with few returns. Venues, including those specializing in live music, can sometimes go up to two weeks without booking a single musician. We believe that this disconnect largely stems from the logistical challenges associated with sorting through performance requests and organizing show schedules. This issue is compounded by the fact that many emerging musicians do not have the resources or experience to market themselves to venues effectively.
Q. Where are you in the development process?
A. We launched our new website on July 20, so musicians can now visit Featr.co and create accounts on Featr. Artist, where they can publicly display their profiles and indicate their availability to perform. Plus, musicians can opt to be matched with other musicians in our community. This fall, performance venues will be able to create accounts on Featr. Business, and manage booking and scheduling directly through our website. In spring , we will launch the Featr. mobile application.
We are first focusing our efforts in Providence, then will expand to other metropolitan areas in the Northeast, with focuses on Boston and New York City. Development updates are being posted on our Instagram.
Q. How much will it cost musicians to be on Featr.? What about venues?
A. Both sides of our platform, Featr. Artist and Featr. Business, will operate using a monthly subscription model at a price comparable to the cost of music streaming platforms.
Q. Does Providence, or any other city in New England, have enough venues for musicians to perform any more? And do they pay musicians enough?
A. There are many performance venues in Providence and Boston, including those that specialize in live music and others that sometimes offer live music in addition to their usual services, like restaurants and galleries. Larger venues can typically afford to pay musicians well, but tend to be more selective with the musicians they book. Smaller venues usually can only pay emerging musicians a small amount, if they even pay at all. Both emerging musicians and venues need to cross a certain threshold of exposure before they are able to generate real income from performances alone.
Q. What are the most pressing needs for musicians in New England, where the cost to perform is high?
A. It is imperative for musicians in New England to expand their networks and generate exposure from their music to offset the high costs of performance. We’re trying to change the game by providing affordable and efficient opportunities for exposure for musicians.
Q. Other than the subscription model, how else will you generate revenue? And do you have a Kickstarter or investors?
A. We plan on hosting Featr. events in partnership with local organizations in major cities. These events will provide Featr. musicians with the performance and networking opportunities to take their careers to the next level. We are also seeking to build relationships with investors who are passionate about creating social impact in the music industry.