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From idea to largest music website in the UK

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by Startacus Admin

From idea to largest Music Website in the UK in two years....'sounds' good eh?

Check this for inspiration. We interviewed the Founder of Gigs and Festivals Simon Robinson about 20 months ago for our sister blog site just few months after he had set up. Now Gigs and Festivals is the largest music website in the UK beating both NME's and MTV's online sites.

But let's rewind. This ain't some corporate business - no. This ain't some massively funded site with a paid team of 20. This is one Simon Robinson Gigs and Festivalsguy (plus another now), a recent Media Graduate, who just a few years ago had an idea for a new music website.

Now just two years on and with over 53,000 unique daily visitors to their website and over 250,000 daily pageviews, Gigs and Festivals are ranked as the 220th most visited website in the UK!

Fed up of being told you can’t do that, that your type of business already exists, or that it’s just not going to work? Well read this interview, in fact find out more about Simon Robinson full stop and get a little (if not big time) inspired...

Take us back to the early days of setting up Gigs and Festivals - how seriously were you and your ambitions taken by both by your industry peers and more especially the 'established' business network?

From just the initial idea, I was supported by the team at Northern Lights who are based at The University Of Central Lancashire from where I had recently graduated. They helped me to learn and understand different aspects of business through workshops and one to one mentoring. They also provided me with free hot desking. Without the support, advice, mentoring and professional environment for my business I don't believe the business would be half as successful as it is today and I can't put into words how grateful I am for their continued support.

Much of the music industry didn't take me too seriously in the beginning, to them I was just 'another music website' as similar sites spring up all the time then just disappear overnight. It did take a lot of hard work to prove I wasn't just another fly by night, but after months of hard work and collecting stats, that I would feed back, the industry started to notice all my hard work.

Your site growth is phenomenal, and is a real testimony to the hard work that you've put in - but hard work is not always enough is it, so what would you credit as the three most important reasons why your site has grown so huge?

Passion, Research and marketing.

I'm extremely passionate about live music and my business; I live and breathe it, it's the first thing in my mind in the morning and the last thing at night.

I spent over a year researching my rivals, my target audience and my business model before I launched the website. Research is still a key part of my business today, you can't become successful in your industry without knowing it inside out.

Marketing is also a major factor of a successful website as you could have the most amazing website in the world but if no one knows it exists they will never see it. You need to understand where your target market hangout online and how you can reach them and introduce them to your brand.

How do you manage the volume of content and also the number of freelance music reviewers and photographers that you have working for you?

gigs and festivalsUp until January of this year it was just myself in the business and I literally did everything, it came to the point where I couldn't manage anymore and things needed to change or I would have become ill and the site would have failed, so I employed my girlfriend, Emma Baker, as my personal assistant.

Emma already understood the business as she had seen me working on it night and day. She now manages the team of writers and photographers along with most of the daily editorial so I can now concentrate on driving the business forward.

Emma has brought a fresh approach, structure and increased the overall quality of the site that I'm really grateful for and I recently made her a director of the business.

We make the perfect team and it really doesn't feel like work, we can spend 15 hours a day in the office working away together and we don't get bored for a single second as we both absolutely love what we do and each other.

Commercialising 'go-to' platforms is notoriously tough - any advice for other early stage platforms with similar business models?

Multiple revenue streams are key as many websites just go down the affiliate route and you can't make a decent living from just one revenue stream. It will never be commercially successful after taking your running costs into consideration.

It's also important not to over commercialise a website with advertisements that get in the way of content or people won't return.

What’s next for Simon Robinson and Gigs and Festivals - any sneaky secrets you can share with us all?

I've been approached by a television production company to make a festival tv show that is planned to go out weekly in the UK next summer. We're filming a pilot at a few festivals this summer then it will be pitched for airtime - so who knows where that might lead.

My future plans with Gigs and Festivals is to role out internationally starting with English speaking countries like America, Australia and New Zealand and then across Europe in multiple languages.

If you like music themed startup articles you might also like recent startup of the week post WholeWorldBand and the previous guest post from Tom Davenport on How I started a community recording studio

If you like what you see here on Startacus, why not become a member of our growing community? It's free! And you'll get all this - exclusive access to our Business Toolkit, discounts and offers galore for your business via our member only business deals, the chance to network and connect with loads of fellow self-starters, and maybe even become our celebrated 'Self-Starter of the Week' and tell the world your startup tale! Join right here for free...

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Published on: 17th June 2013

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