For decades, if an artist needed a support band in the studio or on the go, their main option was to scour their contacts to find musicians to play with. Elmo Lovano wants to change it.
Lovano, himself a longtime touring and session drummer who has worked with artists such as Miley Cyrus and Skrillex, launched Jammcard in 2017, creating one of the most comprehensive databases of professional hire musicians in the music industry. His goal: to modernize the way artists find musicians to play with.
“Basically, I decided to do what I wanted to have when I was playing more often,” says Lovano. “The only other option is to send a mass message to 20 people and hope you find someone. Whether you’re an up-and-coming or someone working with Beyoncé, the whole creative side of our industry is word of mouth. There is a better way to do this and I want to make the global database of the entire live music industry searchable and bookable to help musicians get more work. “
For the most part, artists and their teams don’t have many options other than word of mouth to find potential musicians to play with. Artist managers often text musicians they know, ask their friends, or seek out other tips to find band members to support their clients. Jammcard doesn’t interrupt the search, but ideally at least formalizes it and allows an app to curate choices for a customer rather than shop around aimlessly.
The Lovano startup has grown increasingly ambitious, securing $ 5 million to date from investors like legendary producer Quincy Jones and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin. Today, Jammcard has 10,000 professional musicians on the platform in Los Angeles, Nashville, New York and Atlanta, the country’s four major music hubs. Lovano also anticipates that the platform will open soon in international markets. Jammcard is very selective, with musicians having to pass a verification process to prove they are full-time professional musicians active in the industry.
Tom Windish, a high profile Wasserman Music agent representing famous artists such as Lorde, Billie Eilish and the XX, is a regular user of Jammcard, who often uses the platform to find musicians for more up-and-coming artists. Recently, he used Jammcard to find a guitarist for songwriter Danielle Ponder, which he manages. The biggest potential utility for the service, Windish says, is for smaller artists who don’t have the capital of more established artists.
“Texting people, asking friends about friends, it works if you’re well connected, but not everyone is. Think about the financial aspect here; for international artists, getting visas and bringing in an entire band from overseas becomes a huge financial hurdle, “says Windish.” When you’re a soloist, it doesn’t make much sense to bring in a band, but what other option would you have when you come? This is a real option. You find good musicians and you can save tens of thousands of dollars by bringing a band with you. Most artists don’t have thousands to spend on it. [and] they can’t afford a music director, that’s a better alternative. “
Lovano says he would eventually like to expand the app further to include less established or amateur musicians, and to start, the company launched Jammcard Mentors earlier this year, but to woo high-profile talent to get started, Jammcard has had to guarantee the maximum in-demand of musicians on tour. The strategy appears to have paid off; Jammcard musicians were hired to work with Harry Styles, Gwen Stefani, the Chainsmokers, Zedd and Christina Perri, among others. In Perri’s case, according to the company, Jammcard provided all the musicians she hired for a recent slate of talk show shows, including today’s show, Elena and the Late Late Show with James Corden.
Jammcard could also be attractive in the post-Covid touring environment where many musicians and crew members have either stopped touring altogether or found a new line of work, leaving artists with the need to find new people to work with. tour. Lovano says Jammcard recently hit similar usage numbers as it did before live music shut down two years ago.
Perhaps its most distinctive (and influential) offering comes through its exclusive parties called JammJams. Begun several years ago as informal jam sessions at Lovano’s home, the events have evolved into more bespoke private concerts, the most recent of which received sponsorship from the Sony-presented gospel choir, The Samples, better known as the collective working with Kanye West for his Sunday Service Sessions.
The champions played in late May for an invitation-only show for a few hundred Jammcard members and other music industry friends at a low-key studio in the Frogtown neighborhood of Los Angeles. Lovano, who vaguely resembles and sounds like Jeremy Strong and immediately seems to resemble more of an investment banker than an established musician, ended the evening by pounding the drums, playing with a spinning hodgepodge of musicians.
Jammcard makes money through various avenues such as corporate sponsorships and partnerships. JammJam with Champions, for example, was a partnership with Sony. Jammcard also charges a 10% commission to those who book Jammcard musicians.
Right now, the subscription is free, but Lovano says the company could possibly add a subscription fee. Only a few years old, Jammcard isn’t profitable yet, but Lovano says this is the company’s first year focused on revenue and that artists spent $ 500,000 during the first half of this year booking musicians on the app.
Matt McGuire, the drummer and music director of the Chainsmokers, is also active on the platform, who frequently uses it to hire musicians for many of the duo’s TV appearances, album release parties and other events unique to the group. McGuire estimates he has hired over 20 musicians through Jammcard and notes that while his network of musicians comes first, having a service like Jammcard is affordable and helps give someone new a chance.
“We’re selective with who we choose, so going through the app makes sense since we’re confident we know the people we see are professionals,” says McGuire. “It also allows us to offer opportunities to musicians they probably wouldn’t have considered before as it broadens who we can find. Elmo is building a platform that is filling a hole that is still present in this sector now. “