INTERVIEW: How Six8 is Giving Artists A New Platform To Connect With Audiences
Are you an artist who is sick and tired of managing bookings when all you really want to do is perform? Look no further! WAMAwards partner Six8 is a new online platform that allows musicians and audiences to connect directly. Users can search, listen, evaluate, book and pay for musicians with a simple press of a button. The website even allows musicians to showcase their skills, book gigs, set their own rates and connect with other musicians. More importantly, they can find their audience locally or around the world, whether they are currently touring, or just trying to find their first gig.
Chris Davies interviewed Six8‘s Founder and Managing Director Keith Sue for WAM to learn more about the platform and how online technologies are changing the way musicians do business.
Proffering a new way to experience music, providing artists with a platform to directly connect with audiences, what inspired you to start Six8 in the first place, and what are your goals?
The heart of what we’re about at Six8 is breaking down the barriers to artists getting hired for gigs. You know, I was living in Zurich a couple of years ago playing ukulele in this little jazz jam every Monday night, and there was this saxophonist from New Orleans who would play with us…he was quality – really good – and I would just think, damn man… how is this guy not getting gigs all around the place. But it’s hard. Unless you’re really connected in a city, or get a big break, it’s hard to get gigs… to make a living.
So that was always the key for it from my perspective.
But there’s this real opportunity for change on the other side of the equation, too. Australian’s love live music, imagine if we can completely open things up so everyone can access artists; for afternoons at the beach, evenings on the back deck, a personal festival, or just making it easier for venues to find emerging musicians. I found it stupid that I could book a house in Amsterdam to live in by clicking some buttons, but had no idea how to hire a musician who live a block away from me.
That’s the vision!
The tyranny of distance is something many WA artists suffer from when trying to book shows on the east coast – how might Six8 specifically help WA artists?
The tyranny of distance… I like that description. I think there’s a few changes we can drive.
First, we want to open up access to more gigs locally. We’ve already seen that happening in Perth, there’s been a bunch of people booking artists for more personalised gigs for Christmas or holiday get togethers, a fundraiser BBQ, all sorts of new opportunities – plus there’s the venues who are looking for a bit of live music but just don’t have the setup to go down the traditional pathway.
The second way is making it easier for musicians who do want to travel. We have a rating system on the platform and the idea is that you can build up a reputation. Then if you travel to Sydney, Melbourne, or Berlin you just change the location on your profile and carry your reputation with you. You’re on a level playing field with everyone else coming up in searches for that area – geography doesn’t matter.
What other advantages does Six8 give artists over other promotional services?
We’re not really a promotional service – although we’re obviously pushing a lot of marketing to get people to book on our platform – we just want to take away all the crap that musicians don’t really want to deal with. Just giving artists a free, standardised profile for booking is helpful. A bunch of bands have linked their profile through to a booking tab on their website or Facebook page, so they don’t have to design anything.
All the transactions are handled through Stripe, which means that artists get paid immediately after they’ve completed the gig. The money just appears in their bank account and they can download their invoices for accounting purposes. There’s also chat functionality, quote builder, and a bunch of other tools to make the booking process easy.
Finally they can also rate and review hosts, so that we start to set an expectation that hosts have to be really respectful and welcoming of artists as well. We want to build a community here!
With so many Australian musicians already on board, what has the general reception from venue bookers been like – especially considering the platform might be seen by some as a competitive booking agent in itself?
I don’t see it as a zero sum game. I desperately want the live music scene to grow, and lift… Six8 is our way of trying to do that. Venues and bookers are always going to be important – I spend most of my evenings seeing gigs in venues… but if we’re going to keep this thing alive we need to making live music more accessible and important to everyday people. People need to understand the talent that is out there… the live music community that is out there, and how important it is to our culture. They need to understand who these artists are, their stories, their music, their worth.
If I can do that, then I have succeeded. And I think by doing that the whole scene will grow. You know, It’s a bit like buying your kid a cricket bat, or buying some art to hang in your house… it actually becomes a part of your identity – that kid’s more likely to want to go to a cricket game next weekend, or you’re more likely to go to an art gallery next exhibition. If we can make live music a part of people’s identity… well that’s the key to its survival for me, which is why I think it’s so damn important.
How can artists, venues and bookers join up, and what advice do you have to maximise their chances of benefiting from Six8?
It really easy – all the need to do is go to www.six8.com.au (or download the app from the Appstore) and make a profile. There is never any charge for artists on the platform, and host don’t pay anything unless they make a booking (obviously). Setting up a profile is quick – you can set up a really good artist profile in under 10 minutes. My main tip would be to think about the person who is trying to book you. They probably don’t know too much about you, so put in a good profile pic and good links to your YouTube, Facebook, and Soundcloud pages. A good bio also really helps!!
What’s next for Six8, and what big changes do you predict technology will impact on the music industry?
It’s going to be an exciting year for us. We’re excited to keep building here in Australia before pushing out overseas into Europe and the US. We also have a whole bunch of technical developments we want to grow and push out to the community – tipping, reverse busking, spotify integration… all sorts of fun stuff.
As far as technology and the industry goes… look I’m a firm believer that technology is a tool. We use it to make the change we want to see in the world. We can use it to bring people together more, to empower face-to-face conversations and connection – something we are in danger of losing in the world. Or we can use it to make music more socially isolating. Technology can push us in either direction – it’s my hope we that all choose the former.
Above photo taken at WAMFest presented by Drug Aware, taken by Chris Davies.