Wedding drama sparks $1.2m idea
When Rory Winter and Rebecca Jancauskas started planning their wedding a few years ago, it didn't take long for them to realise one part of the process was "broken".
The Brisbane couple were set to tie the knot in the McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia.
But when it came to finding a live band for their big day, it took them an "unpleasant and tedious" three months to lock one in.
"We jumped on Google to try and find musicians available in that part of Australia and we had a lot of trouble finding artists, comparing prices, watching videos and seeing reviews," Ms Jancauskas said.
"It took about three months of investigations … it was a really painful, long drawn-out process. It took a lot longer than it needed to."
And when the pair eventually contacted an entertainment agency to arrange their booking, Ms Jancauskas said she was "flabbergasted" to learn they were paying a 30 per cent commission for the service, with some agencies charging as much as 50 per cent.
"I thought, 'look, the process is broken and it probably needs fixing'," she said.
The couple spoke to friends and acquaintances who were planning weddings as well as musicians, and quickly realised there was a huge disconnect between live performers and Aussies organising events.
So the idea behind the CrowdPleaser platform was born - and in May 2017, the first bookings on the site were made.
Since then, the tech start-up, which has been likened to "Airbnb for entertainers", has created $1.2 million dollars' worth of work for Australian musicians.
It aims to simplify the entire process by allowing event planners to search a database of local musicians, entertainers, speakers and kids' performers and check out their reviews, get in touch with them directly to get quotes and confirm availability, and pay the booking deposit all on the one platform.
Mr Winter now works on the platform full-time while Ms Jancauskas and third co-founder Mark Campbell work on it part-time.
Ms Jancauskas said the platform was bringing live music back into Australian culture.
"Sadly it's become all too common at weddings or events to just chuck on a Spotify playlist from your phone, because our generation is so used to having music and entertainment literally at our fingertips," Ms Jancauskas said.
"But it means we've become disconnected from the joy of live performances - there's nothing like the experience of seeing someone play or sing right in front of your eyes, and you just don't get that from a playlist."
The latest Australia Council for the Arts research shows almost 60 per cent of professional artists earn less than $10,000 per year from their creative work, while average creative earnings have fallen by 19 per cent in the last decade.
But for people like Queensland solo artist Oliver Murphy-Kurth, CrowdPleaser is making all the difference in the competitive industry.
Since joining the platform early last year, the 23-year-old Sunshine Coast native is starting to earn serious cash, netting $1650 from two weddings during his best weekend to date.
He told news.com.au he was now starting to make more of a name for himself and earn a steadier income with more regular bookings.
"Finding musicians is very hard unless you go through an agency but then you might pay a lot more for it because they take a large cut," he said.
"With CrowdPleaser people deal directly with me so they get what they want, and I'm getting bookings I wouldn't otherwise.
"And I don't have to do much - just get a few good reviews and it kicks off from there.