AmptUp: How This Company Makes It Easier To Book And Manage Live Events

By Amit Chowdhry • Jan 17, 2024

AmptUp is a company that believes in the power of independent live music and is dedicated to making independent live music stronger, easier, and more sustainable for venues, musicians, and fans by increasing transparency and improving communication and operational efficiency. Pulse 2.0 interviewed AmptUp co-founder Holly Hagerman to learn more about the company.

Holly Hagerman’s Background

Before AmptUp, Hagerman spent over a decade on her first company, Green Rising, which was registered as a B-corp and provided marketing strategy to environmentally responsible clients. And Hagerman said:

“Then, going on to spend the last two years growing the web traffic of Sodexo, one of the world’s largest employers, by 58% in one year. I’ve also spent a large portion of my time over the last eight years meticulously studying and financially investing in online marketplaces.”

Formation Of AmptUp

How did the idea for AmptUp come together? Hagerman shared:

“It really can only be described as a lightbulb moment. I was working on the business plan on a dark and stormy night while the whole house was asleep during lockdown. My husband and I were working on a brick-and-mortar idea to provide rehearsal studio space rentable by the hour. However, my background is more in digital marketplaces…and I suddenly thought rehearsal studios would be a good business, no doubt about it, but it’s not enough. We need to help more people. Just a couple of days before, we had been talking to musician friends whose whole livelihoods went ‘poof’ overnight… residencies and gigs worth tens of thousands of dollars… just gone. And full-time musicians don’t have any backup aid, like unemployment, available.”

“So, for a moment, I let myself think bigger, where my skill sets lie -in digital and marketplaces, and thought: “Why is it so hard to find a musician for an event?” My previous business included planning several events for clients, and before I met my husband, a musician, I had to keep a spreadsheet of musicians I saw out and about.  But of course, they never had business cards, so even this was a challenge.”

“I had also spent a considerable amount of time researching marketplaces and thinking about how you can help the most people and my conclusion was, you help them get work.”

“So AmptUp was born from that, initially as a marketplace, until we realized that to help the musicians, we have to first help the small independent venues that suffered greatly. We have some very unique and patent-pending designs ready to reintroduce the marketplace and tools to help musicians pitch the right venues and route tours.”

Favorite Memory

What has been your favorite memory working for the company so far? Hagerman reflected:

“It’s really hard to choose! Although it’s not a moment in time…I think the most fulfilling memory was bringing our designs and product to market after spending hundreds of hours interviewing musicians and venues and finding that almost 100% of musicians and venues signed up after they saw a demo…and maintaining that rate month after month.  They had glowing feedback, calling it a ‘no-brainer’ and ‘revolutionary’ over and over again. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Not being a musician or venue myself, I was amazed at how you can really fill a need if you just listen.”

“My best singular memory was a celebratory dinner we hosted for the “Women who make live music happen” on the venue side. Recognition is typically given to the musicians, and very little is paid to the venues.  For the first time it seemed, they could all come together, let loose, share resources and wisdom, and break bread together. We had a great time, and it was so gratifying to see new relationships built or rekindled right in that room.”

Core Products

What are the company’s core products and features? Hagerman reflected:

“At its core, AmptUp is based on transparency, simplicity, and equity.  We worked hard and spent hundreds of hours just listening to take a complex process and simplify it so everyone has what they need – so that it feels a little like putting wheels on luggage. Our most common venue response is that it is a ‘No-Brainer’ and ‘I can’t believe this didn’t exist before.’ It’s simple, intuitive, and easy for everyone.

Here are how things currently work at most venues:

1.) The Venue uses Google Calendar and email or text messages to communicate details to musicians and their team.

2.) Both sides go back and forth repeatedly, answering the same questions over and over – new band, same answers.

3.) Confirming a booking takes an average of 3 weeks PER BAND (and an average of 15 messages)

4.) Due to high turnover, critical booking info goes with a booker if they move on (contact info & show details, sometimes even dates/times/payouts).

5.) Show details are buried in long email/text threads, and key people aren’t included (someone always misses the reply all!).

6.) Advance details are sent by the venue (load-in time/sound check, etc.) 1-3 weeks before the show. The musician may be reading these at the stoplight on the way to the gig.

7.) If one detail changes, everyone (sometimes 5-10 people) need to be notified, creating a game of ‘telephone’ and increasing chances for error

8.) Musicians report high payment uncertainty because ticket split percentages often change unexpectedly, (and when handling payment at 2 a.m., sometimes after drinking or while rushing to catch a flight it can be difficult to properly negotiate).

9.) Double bookings are not an if but a when, meaning the Venue may not have an act, or the Musician may not have an income.

Here’s how we’re changing things: with AmptUp, bookers can:

1.) Confirm bookings faster: AmptUp streamlines the booking process, reducing the average booking time to an average of 3 minutes and just 3 clicks on each side.

2.) Create a single source of truth: AmptUp unifies not only the venue’s team (Sound engineers, marketing, production staff – many of whom come and go frequently) but also the musicians (managers, agents, bandmates, labels). Answering most questions in the first conversation.

3.) Spend time on more important things: Instead of copy/pasting and answering repetitive questions, talent buyers have more time to curate and promote the show.

4.) Get everything they need, and SO DO Musicians…from the beginning.

5.) Musicians understand the FULL scope of the booking offer BEFORE they say yes, meaning they have more control over their career (and better relations with the venue!)

How we do that:

1.) Smart Automation:

a.) On AmptUp, venues create a profile >> that information flows into a booking, they customize the variables needed >> that booking then lives on the cloud, accessible by a link from the musician >> ALL details flow into the venue’s shared team calendar

b.) Musicians are required to submit their marketing assets in order to approve the booking offer.

2.) A single calendar provides ALL booking details

3.) User permissions ensure that the owner always has control and can add/remove staff while still retaining data.”

Challenges/Bottlenecks Faced

What bottlenecks have you faced in building the company? Hagerman acknowledged:

“If this means what are the bottlenecks in the music industry… The biggest is the flow of information between the venue and the musician… The volume of communications, the risk of error, and the inefficiency. Our tool is specifically designed to manage the greatest bottleneck in live music – the back and forth of the booking process. If you mean in building the product and in tech, my simple answer would be finding the right development talent!”

Evolution Of AmptUp’s Technology

How has AmptUp’s technology evolved since launching? Hagerman noted:

“In one sense, it’s almost identical and follows the original vision…. And that’s important because we want to make sure we are staying true to what we heard in our listening sessions.  In another sense, it’s radically different because we made a few small changes that had a big impact.

  1. We made it a SAAS product for venues and took away any fees from the musician, which has actually helped with adoption and engagement.
  2. We opened it up so that musicians didn’t need a profile and could respond to a booking offer without needing to log in or sign up.  These two things are huge. There are a lot of technologies out there, and people have been getting login fatigue.
  3. We focused primarily on venues to start…the other features originally planned for our site (Musician Marketplace, Venue Search, and Tour Routing Tool) are not only patented in Europe and the US but are coming soon.  We wanted to focus on making an MLP – Minimum Lovable Product.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of the company’s most significant milestones? Hagerman cited:

“The most significant milestones for us were:

#1 Ripping up our Beta version, in June, and rebuilding it with a few small, but key changes, without using a single line of code from the previous version, in only 5 months.  Why? Like many startups, we struggled with our first (and sadly second) development teams.  There was so much code-debt that we were unable to get on top of it.  Fortunately, everyone was committed to delivering to a completely flawless user experience…and those who weren’t are no longer with us.

When you care about the people you’re serving and the money and time they are spending on you, you have to be ruthless, including making scary, ego-smashing decisions.

#2 Seeing that our slightly altered design really had the impact we were hoping for.  That was proven by launching in October with a prepaid waitlist of venues. Before they could even log in, a list of (top, independent) venues paid 2 months of subscription in advance to hold their spot.”


After asking Hagerman about funding information, she revealed:

“Right now, we have a runway of about 9-12 months (friends & family seed round) and are open to investors that are interested in helping a company grow and specifically can bring music industry connections and experience. Going into launch, we had a waitlist of venues that had prepaid the first two months subscription, and had MRR from day 1 after launch.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates the company from its competition? Hagerman cited:

“Our biggest competitor is Google Docs/Calendar, with probably 80% of Venues using G Suite, and AmptUp blows that out of the water for these reasons – AmptUp:

  • Was expressly designed for the music industry, Google wasn’t.
  • Automates everything. Basic venue details (address, stage details, etc.) flow in from the profile, so venues only need to enter show details once per booking (ie: price, date, time), and it updates everyone on your team (with the calendar as a hub) and the musicians. No more copy/pasting.
  • Makes it easy to add people to your team, and give the musician a single link

We currently have only one other known direct competitor, and I think of them as ‘coopetition,’ and maybe a future partner. Our biggest differentiation points are:

  1. Price (Prism is extremely expensive. One non-profit venue recently told me they were paying $400/mo for a single stage.)
  2. We focus on making the booking easy (Prism is often described as the QuickBooks for venues).
  3. AmptUp creates a single source of truth, AND puts it all on one page that is shared with the Musician … so there’s no more copy/pasting, no more back and forth via email (Prism acts as a repository for booking details only shared with the Venue, stored on multiple tabs making finding things time-consuming (ie: a place to store details/Musician files))

**AmptUp is so unique that we have 11 patents pending in the US and Europe.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of the company’s future company goals? Hagerman pointed out:

“From day 1, we have had wide-ranging plans to solve a number of issues venues and musicians face, all in one place.  The admin of booking steals from both sides’ ability to make the show a success. Our goal is to be the most affordable, intuitive go-to choice to find and book live music fast and easily for any venue, event/festival, restaurant/bar, and even brides/grooms. AND, to make it easier for musicians to route tours, find, and pitch venues.

Our next features will be:

  1. ‘Easy-post’ – a way for Venues to easily post their shows to local community calendars and their social media.
  2. Welcoming musicians onto the platform to not only save their info in a profile, but eventually route tours

But, we have some very big things planned for the next two years, so stay tuned.”

Additional Thoughts

Any other topics to discuss?

“I’d love to touch on the transparency and simplicity of our system which are the precursors to fairness and equity. However, we wanted to take it beyond vague concepts of equity and build something that actually makes booking more fair and diversifies the stage…and most importantly, gives people the tools to move past their biases or networks that look a lot like them.”

“So, we designed a specialized diversity tool that is anchored in social psychology research. The research shows that the greatest behavior change happens not when people are exposed to educational materials or ‘awareness is raised,’ it happens when they can see their past behavior data on display. For example, you are more likely to conserve energy from your electric bills if it shows how much electricity you used over time. However, behavior change is much more likely and rapid, if you see your historical behavior data compared to your peers (ie: you used ___ amount of electricity, compared to your neighbor who only used __).

What does this look like for live music booking on AmptUp? Once it’s built, venues will be able to see a chart of how often they are hiring and how much they are paying musicians of color, women, LGBTQIA+ compared to other venues of their size (via anonymized data).

We will update you on our timeline for launching this feature when we have it solidified.”