Helping musicians entertain fans with personalised video performances
University of Manchester alumni have been working with a musician booking company to offer music lovers the chance to receive personalised performances online while most live events are on hold.
Manchester music graduate and cellist, Chiara Beebe, and Ilken Bahçecioğlu, who studied Software Engineering at The University, were reunited when they both joined Encore, the UK’s largest and fastest-growing musician booking platform. Chiara is Encore’s booking executive and Ilken, a software engineer, helped to build the website and worked with the company's designer to bring it to life.
Formed in 2016, Encore offers access to more than 42,000 registered live musicians in the UK, including singers, violinists, cellists, cover bands, wedding bands, tribute bands, small orchestras, DJs, harpists and others who are classically trained. In 2019, the company generated over £1 million in revenue for musicians who were booked across 2,000 events ranging from weddings and birthday parties to corporate parties and festivals.
Playing to a new tune during COVID-19
When the COVID-19 pandemic ground the entertainment industry to a halt, the Manchester graduates helped to give out-of-work musicians a lifeline with the Personalised Music Messages initiative.
“Before coronavirus, customers would visit our website to look for a suitable musician for their event, but when live performances stopped indefinitely, it was a really scary time for our musicians,” says Chiara.
“At the early stages of lockdown, IIken, myself and the Encore team had to cancel or postpone all bookings, so we really wanted to help musicians earn an income. Our mission is to make musicians’ lives better and as we all love music in some way, be it through listening or playing, we put our heads together and found a solution - Personalised Music Messages.”
James McAulay, Encore CEO and co-founder, says: “The COVID-19 crisis has been devastating for many businesses, particularly self-employed musicians who rely primarily on the income of live performances. In March, we were cancelling events for musicians instead of booking them, but we’ve been working hard to find a new revenue stream for our musicians.”
“Personalised Music Messages is a new marketing channel and source of income we’ve built in collaboration with our musicians, helping them put their incredible creativity to use during this time. But it’s not just about helping musicians.; people need connection more than ever and being able to purchase a unique music video and share it with a friend and family member is a great way to show them you care. We also didn’t want to forget the people working on the frontline during this crisis, so every booking includes a donation to our amazing NHS.”
Musicians can record cover versions, adapt songs to suit a particular person or event, or perform their own songs. Videos are then uploaded to a private YouTube link, which can only be accessed by the recipient.
The future of live music
“We’ve definitely seen a lasting trend for more virtual entertainment, in the same way that we anticipate working from home will remain a big part of our lives,” says Chiara. “Our society appears to have become more tech savvy so having a virtual gift might be something people want to continue to do when live performances become the norm again.”
“Personalised Music Messages are a great way to bring people joy and some of the feedback we receive from customers is heart-warming. When people tell us why they’ve chosen a particular song, it reminds you of everything that’s wonderful about music.”
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