Hitting the Right Note: Musician Marketplace Sidestage Launches

By David Knight |

A DJ for your party, a violinist for your fancy dinner, or even the perfect band for your wedding reception – finding and booking quality musicians and music professionals can be difficult and time consuming. That, at least, is the view of the people behind Sidestage, a new marketplace designed to make it easier for users to hit the right note at their events.

The Berlin-based startup has launched to the public after a period in beta, and enables you to find musicians of all types for private events, parties and performances. You can find and instantly book them on the marketplace.

Sidestage is the brainchild of Schuyler Deerman, an American who first moved to Berlin eight years ago and who previously founded Moped, a messaging platform which was eventually acquired by 6Wunderkinder. Deerman was also one of the original founders of Silicon Allee.

He said: “With iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud, music has never been more accessible, or affordable. Yet when we gather for some of life’s most memorable moments – a wedding, a special birthday party or a high school graduation – it’s to the backdrop of live music.”

The marketplace works by cutting out the middle man in the form of booking agents and enabling users and musicians to communicate directly and work out the details, including the final price – although a guide figure is included on the profile page of each artist.

“For a band like us, Sidestage is a great place to start building our music careers,” said Ignacio Grazzini, lead singer of the New Beans, an Argentine band in Berlin who have already received two bookings from the site. “Last week we played a roof show at sunset. It was beautiful. Plus we enjoyed hanging out with all the people afterward.”

Schuyler met Daniel Roberts, his collaborator on the project, through Angel List. Roberts founded the controversial Pirate Cat Radio in California, and more recently led product development for Nokia’s Mixrad.io.

Schuyler added: “With Daniel’s experience working both in radio and with product, understanding artists and knowing how to grow an audience, we have a great foundation for building own unique community.”

The startup has so far raised around $100,000 (about €74,000) in angel investment from Christian Reber, co-founder and CEO of 6Wunderkinder, Robin Haak, co-founder of the Axel Springer Plug and Play accelerator, and the founders of Moviepilot, who recently sold their original German site for €15 million to concentrate on growth in the US.

Unlike US competitor Gigit, Deerman said that while every musician was welcome to create a Sidestage profile, artists with record deals or managers were not the target performers. Indeed, he added, “in ten years, we’d love for headliners to say, ‘We started out on Sidestage.’”

Sidestage is currently available in Berlin, and there are plans to launch in other cities by the end of the year.