Please welcome Side Door, as the latest addition to the Rhino Crash!
HQ: Halifax, NS
Founders: Laura Simpson, Dan Mangan (pictured above)
The Problem: While the recorded music industry is worth $21 billion today, opportunities have always disproportionately accrued towards a select few and the narrative of the “starving artist” continues to ring true for many. Traditional gatekeepers, such as labels and agents, act as a significant source of friction, not only withholding access to performance venues, but also extracting an outsized share of revenue. Despite the evolution of technology in the category from CDs to iTunes to Spotify, monetization continues to be concentrated to the top percentile of artists. Putting this into perspective, of the 3 million artists on Spotify today, 90% of streaming royalties are attributable to the top 1.4% of artists. Notwithstanding the frustration with such a broken system, artists have historically lacked the tools to meaningfully monetize their craft, resulting in the “missing middle class” of artists.
The Solution: Side Door is an experience marketplace for engaging live virtual or in-person music performances in alternative spaces across Canada, the U.S., and Europe. They are on a mission to serve underserved performance artists by empowering entrepreneurship within musicians. Artists create authentic live experiences by directly connecting with superfans and venues without the traditional barriers to launch and scale a live performance career.
Side Door is the core infrastructure layer for music performances in communities. Artists can schedule their virtual and in-person shows on Side Door and manage ticketing, payment processing and settlements through the platform. Meanwhile, audiences can connect directly with a vast universe of live performances previously inaccessible due to geography or expensive ticket prices. Finally, hosts connect local ecosystems together through offering newly discovered and unique spaces, from coffee stores to warehouses to backyards.
The Team: To address the persistent challenges of touring, reaching audiences, and earning a living performing, Laura Simpson and Dan Mangan started Side Door in 2017. Laura and Dan are renowned industry veterans, with an inspirational vision of supporting and empowering musicians to enjoy meaningful careers. Dan is a two-time JUNO award-winning artist and Laura is a second-time founder having previously worked in music marketing and artist development. The company is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with a 20-person team across Canada.
As we continue to “pull the thread” on the entrepreneurial enablement category, we believe vertical-specific challenges will continue to surface. The evolution of new-age, digitally-enabled entrepreneurs drives the necessity for vertical-specific platforms capable of scaling with their increasingly sophisticated needs. Fundamentally, artists are entrepreneurs in their own right - they launch highly unique products (their music), acquire early-adopter customers (SoundCloud streamers, bar gigs) and eventually scale their product portfolio (albums, concerts, merchandise) and customer acquisition channels (promoters, agents, social media). The missing piece of the puzzle has been the limited ownership over monetization, and in turn, limited control over their music business.
We’re excited to announce our investment in Side Door as they aim to define a new category for music platforms by disintermediating the gatekeepers and empowering artists to build their own hybrid online/offline performance business at scale.
Welcome to the Crash!