2019 has been a very important and transformational year for GigsGuide.
We got to join 2 great startup accelerators (Accelerace in Denmark and MusicWorX in Hamburg) that have really helped us figure out where the real value of what we do lies ("connecting people with great live music wherever they go") and how we can bring it to the market successfully in 2020.
We are also very proud of the launch of our new website back in August. It is still very much a work in progress, but it has already received a lot of encouraging feedback from music lovers all over the world. It is also starting to get some nice coverage in the music press, with great pieces popping up in Laut.de (one of the major online music magazines in Germany), MusicAlly and A Journal of Musical Things to name just a few.
As so many others do at this time of the year, I had originally started writing a long post with a general overview of all the great things that have happened to our business in the last 12 months.
I struggled with it for the best part of the last 2 days, until a small voice in my head finally told me "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That!".
People come to GigsGuide for the music, not to read another self-glorifying post about the grind and hustle of startup life.
So instead of writing yet another "year end" post I decided to put together a "ear end" post instead, listing some of my musical highlights for this 2019 that has just a few hours left (good news is, writing this post is going a lot faster than the other, so I should be able to finish it before midnight).
To stick with tradition, I do, however, plan to write another more insightful post with my predictions for 2020 (or if you prefer, "things that will benefit my business over which I have no control but that I wish will happen in 2020"), so stay tuned!
1. Old love never rusts - part I: Max Gazzè X 3 X 12.
Having left Italy 20 years ago (long before apps like Spotify put all the music of the world at one's fingertip), I ended up losing track of many of the artists that I had been following in my youth. Bass player and singer/song-writer Max Gazzè was definitely one of these happy memories of another life in a distant past.
Exactly a year ago, I happened to be home in Rome for Christmas at the same time as Max Gazzè was planning a concert to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of the album that made him famous, "La favola di Adamo ed Eva".
This concert was such a breath-taking experience - thanks also to the incredible sound quality of the venue, the Auditorium Parco Della Musica - and easily one of the top live performances I have ever seen, that I started listening to his records again pretty much non-stop for the following few months.
With this in mind, is it really a surprise that I happened to plan my summer holidays around the same time Max's summer tour was going to stop in my hometown, Anzio?
2 great concerts in one year definitely help making up for 20 years of lost time… But as it happens, Max Gazzè was back at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica this Christmas again for a special event together with Alex Britti (a great blues guitarist and old-time friend of Max) and French drummer Manu Katché.
I admit it, I hesitated a bit… But I am happy I ended up indulging a 3rd time for what turned out to be another incredible live experience with new, more bluesy arrangements of many evergreen hits and some impressive musicianship.
So if anyone tells you it's stupid to see the same artist over and over again... Don't listen to them :).
2. Old love never rusts - part II: I got to see Ska-P and Dream Theater for the first time
I think here is a good example of how hard it is to put people and their taste in a box. This is the reason we built GigsGuide to make it easier for our users to find live music they love, rather than trying to build a super-advanced, AI-powered, blockchain-infused behemoth that "knows better than the users" and makes all the choices for them.
Ska-P (a Spanish ska punk band) and Dream Theater (the Godfathers of progressive metal) are 2 very very different bands that I have loved and followed since I was a teenager. However, for one reason or another I had never had a chance to see either of them live.
But now that I run a music-tech startup and traveling to go see live events counts as a "business trip", I felt it was time to take the bull by the horns once and for all.
So in the small space of 5 days I first flew down to Milan for Ska-P, on what turned out to be one of the hottest, most disgustingly humid days of summer (still totally worth it, though!). I then hurried back home to meet my friend Marco and travel to Aahrus (Denmark's second largest city and a live music hot-spot that should be on everybody's to-visit list in 2020) to catch Dream Theater's show at Musikhuset.
After the concert I then rushed to Copenhagen Airport and there I ended up having coffee and cake with Dream Theater's singer James LaBrie while I was waiting for my flight to Berlin (where I was headed to attend Tech Open Air).
My only regret is that in spite of trying really hard to make it fit, I could not arrange to see Dream Theater at the Greek theater in Taormina, Sicily (progressive metal with an active volcano in the backdrop… that would have been epic :)). I guess that's going to have to stay in the bucket list for a little while longer.
3. GigsGuide - or the pleasure of discovery
One of the main motivations behind GigsGuide's development was automating all the research for live events that I would like when I was travelling on business. Our idea is that by giving serendipity a gentle push, we make it easy for our users to come closer to (and actively support) the local music scene of their destinations and discover new artists to love.
This is why we are particularly happy when we hear stories like the one of our friend Alice, who thanks to GigsGuide discovered that While She Sleeps (one of her favourite bands) happen to be playing in London when she is there on her next business trip at the end of January.
This has certainly also been the case for me on many occasions. The last one was when I travelled to Liverpool back in September for the Music Tourism Convention (an event that was a true eye-opener for me), and then spent the weekend in Manchester.
Here, GigsGuide led me down a dark (metal) path to a small, beer-stinking venue in Manchester for what turned out to be one of the most entertaining live shows I have ever assisted to.
It's hard to describe what an Evil Scarecrow show is like... It's a hurricane of proper, well-played heavy metal, stuffed with props and silly moves that must be experienced live. So do yourselves a favour and watch the video below, paying close attention to how the audience reacts ;).
Then click the link above and make sure you go see these idiots live in 2020.
To an incredible 2020 full of music!
And how has your musical 2019 been? Did you rekindle the spark with an old favourite? Did you discover new music to love?
From the GigsGuide team to all our friends and music lovers out there, we wish you a smashing 2020 full of great musical adventures!
And whatever your plans for 2020 are, I recommend to check out GigsGuide regularly, as we keep adding new features and expanding the coverage of our events database. Just last week, we added an artist directory and we turned on our direct integration with Skyscanner, making it a lot easier for you to find the best music and the best flight deals wherever you go.