I’m always a bit intrigued when someone comes up with a new technology solution for an old problem. If that solution is riding a particular technology trend I’m even more intrigued so when I saw PR material that a start up was creating a “platform” for linking agents, singers and casting personnel in the classical music business I wanted to find out more. Yesterday I spent some time with Danish tenor and entrepreneur Sune Hjerrild to find out what truelinked.com was all about.
It’s a subscription based service built around two principles:
- delivering data about what’s going on in the industry thus creating transparency
- connectivity – allowing for a seamless booking process
The first of these is based on acquiring the assets of operabase.com which has been around for a few years and is an invaluable source of information for people like me who have questions like:
- How often and where has Weill’s Mahagonny been performed in the last five years?
- What are the most performed operas in North America?… and so on
The second piece, which already exists, is a sort of LinkedIn for the classical music world allowing people and organisations to create personal pages and so on.
Truelinked aims to create a genuine “platform” by combining the two with some added features. It’s an interesting challenge. Theory (or at least conventional wisdom) says that a platform has two core components; unique information for facilitating transactions and a “core transaction” that involves money changing hands where the platform rakes off a percentage. Uber and AirBnB are perhaps the best examples. The “unique information” piece is clear here. The “core transaction” is the booking of singers etc. There’s no plan though (at least for now) to get involved in the financial side of that so there’s no rake off. The monetization model is a subscription based one. Arts organisations will “pay to play” as they do with Operabase now. Most singer functions will be free while agents will work on a Freemium model; basic services for free with options one pays for. I can’t see that having the potential of a “rake off” model but there’s no obvious reason why it can’t support a viable business.
Will the industry buy it? We discussed that at length. The value proposition for a company seems fairly clear. It becomes easier to research who has sung what where. I’ll certainly be interested to see just how sophisticated that search function becomes. With Operabase it’s fairly rudimentary but that can be fixed. Not only would that make it easier to draw up short lists for casting and if the database also showed when singers were available or not then so much the better. And think about “jump ins”. The advantage of a “one stop shop” for finding singers with the means to contact their agents seem obvious to me.
Then there’s the international growth of opera. If opera is flatlining, or worse, in its traditional markets it’s growing in places like China where the companies may not have established networks and expect to do business electronically. It’s also fair to say it’s had support, in principle, from traditional markets too. Kasper Holten is on record as being a fan for example.
So can the allure of global connectedness overcome the charms of a traditional old boys network? We’ll see. Integration of Operabase into Truelinked is scheduled to be complete this month.