Interview: How Poptop UK and Liftshare can help unsigned bands get noticed

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Starting a band and getting signed is a colossal amount of work these days. It was never easy to begin with, of course, but more than ever before today’s new musicians need to be entrepreneurs, promoters and highly talented artists all at once.

Anyone who has started a band and started gigging will tell you that – at times – it can feel like making it big is an impossible task.

Where do you begin? How do you get noticed? What is the best way to get gigs outside of your home town? Is it possible to make money from music sales in a world where Spotify is king?

These are the questions that helped fuel the formation of Poptop UK, a site that looks to bridge the seemingly impassable gap between booking agent and artists. The site was founded in 2013 and enables hundreds of bands with a platform to list their act for hire, so that anyone from engaged couples in need of a wedding band to gig promoters can negotiate a fee and pay artist to play their event.

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We reached out to Eugene at Poptop UK to discuss Liftshare’s involvement with music festivals like Glastonbury and Download, along with smaller events across the UK, and to interview him on how his site can help unsigned artists increase their chances of finding gig opportunities.

“I used to manage events for eight years and feel very passionate about this industry,” he tells us. “All our team, even our technical director, is somehow related to music industry. It has always been the greatest source of inspiration for us.

“Since 2011, I had been thinking about a platform that could help me in my work of planning events and booking entertainers. It has always been quite complicated to find a great show or a music band for, let’s say, a themed party, especially if you want to impress the auditory but your budget is not huge.

“In 2013 we gathered a team and started Poptop, a platform where planners of private events can book music bands, solo musicians, singers and DJs.”

Eugene adds that Poptop’s aim is to create a platform which enables musicians with a more-effective method of marketing gigs, and to become an ultimate tool for managing their gig schedule. Both acts and event planners are placed in direct contact to discuss shows, negotiate fees independently and add to their contact books for future opportunities.

We ask Eugene to comment on just how challenging it is for new acts to get their name out there today. “[The] music business has become as crowded and competitive as never before,” he cautions. “When you start your music career now you should be prepared that it will become a really long-lasting trip.

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“The key point is in building a community and it cannot be done immediately. Even with a great material and extraordinary skills you need to put big efforts into building a network of people around you. Success doesn’t come even to very talented people any more – you need to go out and get it.

“You can no longer just be a musician, but a mixture of an entrepreneur and an artist. For some this is a big challenge and can become a stumbling-block. This was one of main reasons for starting Poptop – to give musicians a tool which will help them book more live events, build auditory and earn money.”

One way Liftshare can help artists get more support to their shows – particularly those out of town – is by urging those who perhaps don’t want to spend too much cash on gig travel, to car share together using our site or free mobile apps. It makes sense that if it costs less to travel to a show, more people are likely to make the trip.

“Band promotion has become, from one side, universal and democratic, but from the other is still very much about personal connections and reputation,” Eugene continues. “Getting through the noise and building relationships with venues, art directors or brands may become almost impossible.

“If you have a manager or a representative of a label taking care of your gigs [then] life may be easier, but getting a good booking manager is a rare gem. One of the solutions may be thoroughly exploring your listeners and targeting specific niches. After you become widely-known in a niche you can start targeting a broader segment, as you already have a base of fans, followers and testimonials.”

Poptop can help beyond bridging the gap between marketing people and acts. Eugene stresses that the site’s involvement is far more active than that, and its dedicated team works hard to gain more customers for acts across the UK. Musical talent aside, acts will find more success with a high-quality profile, media information, videos and professional photos – to name a few features.

The world of music in the digital world may be changing rapidly, but thanks to sites like Poptop unsigned artists are getting help from emergent, innovative places. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one moving forward.

What do you think?

Main image Credit: Richard Riley

Second image credit: Daniela Vladimirova

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