Encore, a booking platform for musicians, has raised slightly over £560,000 in Seed funding from Entrepreneur First and a series of angel investors. Other investors included Andrew J Scott, founding partner of 7percent Ventures and an investor in Magic Pony, Andrew Gault, an investor in Oculus VR, John Taysom, an early investor in Yahoo, and Charlie Songhurst, formerly head of corporate strategy at Microsoft, forming a considerable investment portfolio for the startup.
A graduate of pre-seed investment program and investor Entrepreneur First, Encore also drew support from Harry Briggs, a partner at BGF Ventures and Andy Phillipps, the co-founder of ActiveHotels (sold to Priceline). Encore not only makes it easier to book musicians and bands, it also aims to improve pay and conditions for the musicians themselves by cutting out (and replacing) the traditional agency middle person. James McAulay, co-founder, and CEO, explained,
Musicians are tired of being ripped off by traditional agents who take a large cut and often don’t have the musicians’ best interests at heart. Encore brings transparency to an industry that desperately needs it.
The way the site works is simple: those organizing an event simply submit the type of musician or band they wish to hire, providing details like an instrument, genre, and time and place. Encore then takes that information and sends out an alert to matching musicians and bands who are registered on its mobile app. Musicians that are available and interested then respond with a quote and the booker can check their profile and Soundcloud links etc., and ask any follow-up questions before making a booking. Payment is then processed via Encore, which takes a 15 percent booking fee along the way.
McAulay talked about the challenges and difficulties he faced when trying to raise the funds,
Unfortunately, Brexit happened exactly halfway through our fundraising campaign, and within three days of the result I had received emails from two investors who had suddenly gone cold and decided not to invest. At one point, we were advised to stop raising midway through the round (in July) and simply close £250,000, but I was determined to hit our target. I am so glad we persevered.
McAulay went on to explain that the main reason the fundraising took place was a desire to grow Encore’s team. He said that the team has a clear vision of what they want to achieve with Encore, and this investment enables them to further develop the Encore website and mobile apps. He further added,
We have plenty of improvements on the horizon designed to make booking musicians easier than ever before, and to help our musicians make more money doing what they love. We want to bring live music to as many private events as possible, and this investment will help us spread the word about the magic and simplicity of our bookings service.
The marketplace has already attracted over 18,000 musicians, with about 30 percent active each month.This latest round of funding brings the startup’s total amount of funding to just under $1 million.