RETHINKING THE LIVE MUSIC INDUSTRY WITH MAXIME

Interview by Katarina Mladenovicova

Maxime, also known as Snds shares his experience as a musician and the motivations behind rebuilding the live industry with artists in mind with the platform forgigs.

Hey Maxime, can you start by introducing yourself? 

I started working in Banking after finishing a bachelor’s in Finance from HEC Montréal, then quickly moved to working in music streaming. After Montreal I moved to Tokyo, then Paris, then London and I’ve been back in Tokyo for the past four and a half years. I launched Deezer (a major french music streaming service) in Japan in 2018 and since then I’ve been consulting in the field. I am also a musician and producer by passion. I studied classical guitar when I was a kid and started producing my own songs when I moved to Montreal at about 20.

How would you describe your musical style? What influenced it? 

It’s a mix between 80’s electronic music, 90’s British rock and more recent soul, funk, and RnB. Think of it as a mix between YMO, Oasis, Chromeo and Childish Gambino.

As a musician and someone working in the industry for many years, how would you describe the different scenes/cities you worked in? What made Tokyo an exciting place for you to settle in? 

Clearly everywhere is different but also very similar. Montreal was a great place for independent artists in the early SoundCloud days, very easy to organize shows and build an audience. Paris, on the other hand, is known for being closed, but once you get in the circle you can play in great venues that have natural audiences so it’s great to be in front of new potential fans. The most surprising thing for me was London, when I moved there in 2015, many live houses were closing and promoters were struggling to build coherent lineups. It’s also a promoter-based industry which isn’t necessarily great for artists. Tokyo on the other hand is another world. At first, the language barrier is big but surprisingly it’s not quite as hard to organize shows. First of all, there are so many venues of all sizes, but most of all great small spots where you can easily fill up the space with 15-20 people and the atmosphere is usually great. Another great point about Tokyo is the number of talented musicians. It’s a gold mine.

 

You’re one of the creators of Forgigs, can you tell us more about the app? 

In short Forgigs’ mission is to rebuild the live music industry with artists in mind. On one hand, it’s a ticketing platform that integrated a full-fledged booking management and ticketing management service, with a chat feature, calendar, payments, etc. On the other hand, it’s a social network around concerts fans can follow artists, venues and musicians, get personalized concert recommendations, buy tickets, send tips and purchase merchandise.

What were the primary motivations for creating such a platform? 

Great frustration on my part as an artist having to rebuild a network every time I change cities. I’ve been playing shows on multiple continents and at the same time worked in the music industry. I’ve seen things move so fast on the music distribution side. It’s super easy now to create your music and distribute it for super cheap, but it’s also very hard to make any money out of it. Live musicians on the other hand used to be a way to promote themselves but it is now the main source of revenue for most artists. The problem is that it is still too hard and financially risky for artists to organize shows. You have many intermediaries, very high fees, and low access to information. 

The goal of Forgigs is to make it as easy and cheap for independent artists to organize gigs as it is to distribute their music. One thing we also value greatly is transparency, not only it’s easy to use but artists have full visibility on how many tickets have been sold and used and how much they are due, which is often not the case.

What would you say are the main reasons why artists should get on the app? 

Here are the top 5 reasons artists should join:

  1. Access to information: you’ll know wherever you go which venue matches your style and size and you can request bookings.
  2. Transparency: You will know exactly how many tickets are sold, how much is owed to you and how much fees are taken out. If you have a manager you’ll see everything they do.
  3. The ease of use: it’s the most intuitive system I’ve seen so far, and you’ll only need to use one platform for pretty much everything from booking to selling merch.
  4. Visibility: the service allows fans to follow your profile as well as the profile of musicians playing with you and get notifications about your next shows. The recommendation feed also gives you some visibility.
  5. It’s for instrumentalists too: they can create profiles and generate a following. Their profile can be linked on gig pages and those gigs will appear on their profile. So all band members can independently create their own fan base and leverage that following for other projects they are part of.

What are the next projects? 

On a monthly basis, we organize intimate shows. We curate artists and film their performances. The idea is to promote artists who are early adopters, spread the word about Forgigs, give great content to the artists and help them book more shows. 

Our next show is with amazing artists that mix electronic music, jazz and world music. It’s on September 16. It’s our first show after the summer break so we’d greatly appreciate it if people who read this got a ticket and shared it with their friends. The artists and audience often tell us it’s the best show they’ve been to in a while.

Here are also some of the promoters and venues you should look out for: 

  • Kumo has a cool event on September 10 where we’ll be promoting the platform

Now, a bit more personal, who are some emergent musicians you’d recommend to our readers? 

I gotta recommend artists that are on Forgigs. I will encourage readers to create a fan account and browse artists on the platform. FiJa, Chloe Kibble, MayowaSensei, Mimiko and more…

On the more personal side, I’ve been listening to Le Ren, a folk/bluegrass project by British-Columbian Lauren Spear.

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