Edwin Onggo is that friend who’s always trying to drag out you to see his favourite band. The guy who says you haven’t lived ’til you see that DJ play live. As a business student in Sydney, he was passionate about the live music scene, but found it difficult to afford the ticket prices to weekly shows. “So, that was always a challenge, and then it got me thinking what can we do to make it a lot easier for music fans to get out to gigs,” he explains.
The answer was GiggedIn, which originally started in 2012 as a crowdfunding and ticketing platform where fans pledge to buy tickets if the gig goes ahead. The idea was to purely assist in packing out live music events. A kick-starter for live music, in a sense.
“I’ve always wondered why couldn’t we get more music events happening, more often, and it was because the majority of music events–9/10 actually don’t actually sell out–and that really sucks, because they’re playing in front of a half-empty room,” reflects Edwin. “It sucks for promoters, because they take on the risk that they don’t always make money and make it sustainable. And it really sucks for venues because when you don’t have enough people going to gigs, you don’t sell enough behind the bar, and it’s difficult to sustain.”
Edwin found himself a strong team and focused on what he describes as an “inward journey” learning most of what he needed to know, along the way. “I think that the more that you learn earlier on and prepare yourself the better. I’m a big believer of being a person that attracts success, opposed to a person who pursues it.” He found early investment from accelerator BlueChilli, who were instrumental in building the first versions of the platform while Edwin continued to work full-time. “But then I realised that we’ve got an amazingly big opportunity with GiggedIn, a chance to change the world and change the live music industry for the better,” says Edwin, “And also personally just reach my own potential, which is difficult to do working in another environment, or working for somebody else. I ended up taking the plunge [to quit his job] and never looked back since.”
At the same time as growing GiggedIn, Edwin decided to launch a membership service late last year, which gives people unlimited guest-list access to incredible shows–starring both local and international acts – in their city for a monthly fee. He believed a subscription–with no risk of cancellation–would further encourage people to get out and discover new artists. “The vision for us is to make live music be a part of every single person’s weekly routine in Australia,” he says. It took off immediately (with help from a 50,000-strong database they had already built) and is widely seen as the most exciting innovation to happen to the industry in recent times.
Each week his team of four, carefully curates 20 quality shows in Sydney and Melbourne that might include the likes of Peking Duk, Illy, The Rubens, Ngaiire, Art Vs Science, as well as entry to music festivals and events. Through power in numbers and brand partnerships, punters can access this all for only $35. “We have an amazing team that loves music and is very in the know. We work with a lot of interesting music events and will secure allocations for those shows for our members. We also speak to our members all the time, we understand what genres they’re into, and we survey them to see what kind of shows or acts they’d like to see.” As their subscription base grows, Edwin says they’re also running GiggedIn exclusive shows where they act as promoters and pay an artist to play strictly for members.
GiggedIn is all about promoting exciting events that are happening in members’ own neighbourhoods but are at risk of going undiscovered. “Eighty per cent of the shows our members attend are shows that they wouldn’t have attended, wouldn’t have bought a ticket to, or turned up at the door and bought,” reveals Edwin. GiggedIn bring those bands more fans and fills up venues, meaning that artists slated for a smaller venue like Sydney’s Oxford Arts Factory, could be upgraded to the Metro theatre because of GiggedIn members also wanting to attend that event. “Ultimately we’re about increasing the size of the industry by having more music fans going to more shows and also generating more income for artists and building new fans for them,” sums up Edwin.