We’ve been chatting to Encore about how their marketplace for booking performers is empowering the musicians that use it and giving event organisers easy access to a broad range of musical talent.
How does Encore work?
Encore is incredibly simple for people hiring musicians.
Customers who want to hire musicians answer a few questions about the type of live music they’re looking for and provide some details about their event. We then instantly notify musicians nearby, who respond with a customised quote and message for the organiser. From there, it’s easy to watch videos, compare prices and read verified reviews before completing a booking safely and securely through the Encore platform. We often see enquiries turn into confirmed bookings within an hour!
Encore is also a piece of cake for musicians.
Create a profile and customise your alert settings. Receive notifications for gigs relevant to you, send quotes to customers, and communicate with them directly before securing a booking through Encore and having all of the payment taken care of by Encore. Spend less time hunting for gigs, and more time playing gigs.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea originated from a need for a musicians network, sort of like LinkedIn for musicians.
I played in all sorts of orchestras, bands and even sang in barbershop groups at university, and it could be so frustrating to organise gigs and book other musicians within the relatively small student community at Cambridge.
My co-founder and I spent a year creating the Encore network and growing it to 2,500 musicians before officially launching nationwide and beginning to build the bookings technology that powers everything we do today. We’re now the largest online network of musicians in the UK, with nearly 25,000 musicians spanning every genre across every city in the country.
What are the problems which you’re solving for musicians? Are you unique?
We asked our musicians last year about their biggest frustrations when booking gigs, and they overwhelmingly responded “chasing overdue payments”.
With Encore Pay, musicians receive secure deposits before their gigs, and automatic payment 48hours after their gig, which solves a massive problem and instantly reduces the amount of stress involved in booking gigs.
Every musician I know has a horror story about work they were never paid for, and we hear an alarming number of stories relating to exploitation of musicians by agencies who should be treating them better.
We’re musicians ourselves at Encore, and we’re building a platform that is truly transparent and fair for musicians. In that respect, we’re incredibly unique.
Are musicians using Encore as a meeting ground?
We have a lot of orchestras and bands who use Encore to book extra players when needed, so we’ve created a lot of new connections through doing that. We have some exciting ideas around using the Encore network to create incredible new groups and ensembles from scratch, but that’s a story for another day…
Do you have any favourite user stories?
We thrive on the glowing feedback we receive from our customers, and this is one of my recent favourites from a booking earlier this month: “Keith went above and beyond to make our event memorable. The guest of honour was absolutely blown away at the surprise. Not only did Keith play the bagpipes, he marched us from our office, with 40+ people, down the middle of Holborn, to the pub where the leaving do was being held. He then chatted with guests and ended the night with Auld Lang Syne – which got everyone together and smiling! We honestly could not have asked for better service, and would highly recommend him to anyone looking for the wow factor at an event, big or small!”
Can you imagine 40+ people marching down Holborn, led by a bagpiper, on a weekday evening!?
Some of the most heartwarming stories we hear are often from the most low-key bookings. One of our customers, Maria, booked an accordionist to her mothers 90th birthday with a small gathering of friends in her home. “Stephen was very punctual and delightfully played Italian music for us as requested! Everyone danced and sang along to the accordion it was such good fun! Mum really was taken by surprise and thoroughly enjoyed every moment!”
The mental image of everyone dancing around a living room to the sound of a single accordion makes me incredibly happy.
What’s been the best/worst experience of growing a business in London?
London is expensive! There was a point early on in the history of Encore where my co-founder and I were working on it for nearly 12 hours each day, I was teaching programming workshops at the weekends that began at 8amand finished at 6pm, and I was renting out my bedroom on AirBnb and sleeping on my flatmate’s floor. Those were an incredibly difficult few months, but Encore wouldn’t exist today if we hadn’t made those sacrifices.
London is thriving! The tech community in London is huge, and yet it feels so small once you begin getting to know people. Being surrounded by so many startups making a dent in the universe is really motivating, and since moving to London we’ve developed a great support network of advisors, investors and fellow founders that I don’t think we could have built anywhere else in the UK.
What instruments do the Encore team play?
Between my co-founder and myself, we play cello, violin, piano, guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, drums, and voice! Within the team, we have oboists, organists, singers and even more cellists. Encore truly is built for musicians, by musicians.