Arts & Entertainment, Banking & Finance, and Small Business & Startups

Start Garden invests in live music

March 13, 2014
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Start Garden invests in live music
The ShowTown platform connects venues with musicians and their fans. Photo via

A startup founded by a University of Michigan business alum is working to help bands — and venues — book gigs.

ShowTown, an online live entertainment platform, received a $5,000 investment last month from Start Garden, the $15-million seed fund in Grand Rapids.

The platform was founded by Marc Marras, a recent graduate from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at U-M.

Live music scene

ShowTown's online platform connect venues with musicians — and their fans.

ShowTown believes that there’s often a discrepancy between the type of venue and a musician's genre, as well as inefficiencies in booking gigs and reaching fans.

ShowTown said it streamlines the process, by allowing musicians to apply for listings based on criteria specified by venue managers.

Once the musician is selected, the venue manager can market to the musician's fans on ShowTown, including emails after a performance is booked.

ShowTown users can view trending musicians in a local region and across the nation, as a result of people voting for one of the two musician videos in matchups.

Musicians are also able to promote their music.

“Most bands do their own research to find any venue with live music and cold call, often with mixed results,” Marras said. “Consider the venue side, which uses a similar research process to book bands.”

Marras added that venues can save “nearly $7,200 a year” using ShowTown.


Moving forward, the funds from Start Garden will go toward covering ShowTown’s "aggressive" marketing campaign to have venues on their platform before launching in March.

Both Ann Arbor SPARK, an economic development nonprofit, and the Michigan Small Business Development Center have helped in developing the marketing strategy.

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