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Why I Created an App for Freelance Musicians

Jared Judge

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I’m Jared Judge, founder of BookLive. BookLive is an app that helps freelance musicians manage and organize their performing lives without having a degree in business. I wanted to share the story of why I started BookLive.

Several years ago, I moved to a new city for graduate school. I’d been a musician my whole life and was a solid performer — thanks to music school and thousands of hours of practice. In a city like Milwaukee, I was told there’d be plenty of opportunities for paid musical gigs. With my background, paying my way through graduate school shouldn’t have been a problem.

I knew my overall goal was to make a living as a professional musician. I didn’t want to work a different day job in order to support music as a hobby.

In fact, my calling has always been music. I love interacting with the music itself and sharing that with an audience, but what has always fired me up was being able to lead other musicians and change the world — this is why I went to grad school for Orchestral Conducting.

After I moved to Milwaukee, however, I had no musical connections. With no income stream, even paying for dinner became stressful. The performances that were promised fell through. The payments I was supposed to receive were incorrect or nonexistent. And the musicians I was supposed to play with would show up at the wrong time or bring the wrong music to the performance.

After months of little work and even less pay, I considered giving up on my dream of becoming a professional performer. In fact, I even took non-musical jobs to make ends meet — leaving me with very little time to play my music.

That’s when I realized I had to take control and ownership of my life as a freelancer. I couldn’t rely on others to hand me gigs or pay my rent. To take control, I drew on my previous technical experience. I’d been a technology geek since middle school and knew how to build websites. Ultimately, I realized I could mesh my two skill sets: my musical background and my technical expertise. I set out to develop a software that would help me land performances, manage those gigs, and play them to perfection.

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At first, just my own string quartet used the software. We found quick success — booking 150 performances in a year, when most string quartets play 10 per year.

The software continued to help grow the business. First, the software made it easy for clients to work with me. It gave me a complete structure for handling musical performances, marketing myself as a musician, and managing my music library. Second, the system automatically handled communication, so I no longer had to worry about musicians not responding to my emails and texts. And third, I included a built-in payroll component, so paying fellow musicians was quick, easy, and inexpensive. In essence, I made it a one-stop shop for a musician’s life.

The software became so successful for my string quartet that it generated more demand than we could accommodate. I looped in more musicians and grew my connections so I could continue playing my instrument and running the business.

With the rapid success of the app, I knew I could do even more. Many of my musician friends and colleagues — including solo performers, cover bands, and jazz quartets — struggled with the same thing I did: making money as a musician. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wanted to help other musicians build a thriving business that they could live off of.

So I decided to enhance the BookLive app to make it as convenient and practical as possible. With the help of my colleagues, we grew an active community of musicians who are passionate, productive, and profitable. BookLive became a one-stop shop created for musicians, by musicians.

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The software has already helped hundres of musicians manage their performances, playlists, and payroll. Musicians across the country now have a powerful way to build and sustain their own business as a paid musician.

For me, helping others live the same dream of being a professional performer changed my life. And that’s why I’m so excited to be on this journey of building a space where musicians can readily share their talents and love of music with the world!

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