Kickstart Your Own SXSW: Hear It Local Lets You Crowdfund Private Concerts

Looking for a band for your tech conference, wedding, or launch party? San Francisco startup Hear It Local has just launched a private concert booking and crowdfunding platform that connects you to local musicians, just in time to catch the attention of the music crowd at South By Southwest. Smaller venues can also use Hear It Local to fill their calendars with great affordable bands.

Unique experiences are rising in value thanks to mobile devices and social networks that make it easy to share our attendance. As both individuals and big brands throw more events, and services like EventBrite make them easier to mange, Hear It Local could grow by bridging the divide between promoters and talent.

Currently, discovering great bands, contacting them to plan a gig, and arranging payment is a huge pain. When Hear It Local first started in March 2010 it was just a local band promotion platform where musicians could set up profiles that include their social media links and stream their music, and fans could find shows to attend. This week it relaunched to attack the problems with booking private concerts.

Hear It Local now lets fans and promoters send artists booking offers, which trigger SMS and email notifications for the artists who can then respond and work out details. Promoters pay artists via credit card through the Hear It Local site, which charges a $10 transaction fee and 2.5% of the full booking price.

Hear It Local also now lets users pay for artists through crowdfunding. An event’s creator gets a link they can distribute to invitees, and there they can give a donation which acts as a ticket purchase. Hear It Local charges the promoter a $10 initial fee and each donor $0.99 + 2.5% of their contribution. Promoters get the money back if they raise too much, but pay a $10 + 2.5% penalty on the booking fee to Hear It Local and 10% of the booking fee as artist reimbursement if they cancel the concert because they couldn’t raise the funds.

The angel-backed Hear It Local only has 2 full-time employees, CEO Matt Lombardi and CTO Glenn Shope, and its services are only available in the Minnesota Twin Cities, and San Francisco. Still, the site looks pretty nice, with artist recommendations and a streaming player that works as you browse around the site. It’s got 5,000 bands and some prominent Bay Area clubs and promoters set up so far.

Hear It Local should look to develop some partnerships to help it push the “living room concert” movement. If it could become a music talent discovery system for promoters using EventBrite, or tie in with BandPage to recruit more bands, it would have a better chance at success.

Organizing a private concert is a lot of work, even with Hear It Local’s assistance. The company will need plenty of bands and marketing to attract those few people motivated enough to bring these intimate music experiences to their friends.