Every musician knows that putting on a gig isn’t cheap. Even once you’ve forked out your hard-earned on the best instruments you can get your hands on, there are so many other costs that go into playing a live show – especially when it comes to touring interstate.
Bands are desperately keen to get out there and play for their fans – and win some new fans along the way – but the costs just creep up until suddenly you’re paying more than you’re earning. It’s an issue that some Melbourne musos are hoping to tackle with an exciting idea for how to get artists everything they need to play shows wherever they can, without emptying their bank accounts.
Often struggling with these hurdles themselves, musicians Kate Bradley (Dark Fair), Liz Thomas (Ouch My Face, The Loveless) and Martin McDonald (Son of Sea) took it upon themselves to do something about it, starting up Everywhere Roadie, a service that hopes to connect our music community together and allow people to share their gear and professional skills.
The service allows musicians to rent gear directly from other musicians, where and when they need it, and those musicians then get paid for the rentals. It lets bands pick up gear a bit more cheaply, and also to make some money on the side by listing their unused gear – almost like an Airbnb, but for amps instead of apartments.
“We thought about all of the amps and gear that must be sitting unused in garages across the country, and wondered how could we connect that gear with the people who need it?” says Liz.
Though the idea began as a way to grab some gear on the run, the site isn’t just limited to physical gear. Sound engineers, merch hands, tour managers, photographers, and anyone else offering a gig-related service, can offer their skills as well.
“The site is about covering all bases when it comes to live music, touring and recording and making it all more affordable and accessible.”
Everywhere Roadie basically came out of necessity for the trio, Kate tells us. “The idea evolved over a series of discussions about the challenges around touring, particularly with sourcing gear on the road and how costly it can be to hire gear.”
“We’re all musicians and have played in bands for many years – so all of us have experienced the budget blowouts from lugging or sourcing gear when on tour. For me personally, the moment was when I was gigging in Sydney and needed to hire an amp. I couldn’t get the specific one I was after, and I also needed to have it delivered and collected, so by that stage it had blown out to over $200. That’s when I thought, ‘There must be a better way of doing this!’”
They seem to have tapped into a common sentiment, too. “We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response since launching eight weeks ago. People are really getting involved, contacting us with their ideas and listing a huge variety of gear and services.”
While there was no doubt a gap in the market for this sort of thing, Liz believes that a large part of that interest also comes down to the supportive, communal nature of local musicians.
“I think that being a marketplace that enables members to really get involved and play a part in the growth of the community is something that really appeals to people.”
Musicians also need a place to crash after gigs that isn’t necessarily their mate’s couch, and the Everywhere Roadie team spotted another opportunity there.
“We’re teaming up with accommodation providers to offer discounts to members. We’ve kicked things off with the YHA Adelaide, who are offering a 20% discount or a free room in exchange for an acoustic performance for hostel guests. More will be rolling out over the coming months. ”
Some pretty impressive steps already from the small team of musos, but there’s more that they want to do to help get artists where they need to be, Kate says.
“We would like to see Everywhere Roadie membership throughout Australia and New Zealand, especially in regional areas. We want to be an integral part of enabling bands to tour in areas that may not have been previously accessible or affordable for them.”