Parlour Turns 1

By Matt Walters

It seems crazy to think that just over a year ago I was sitting in my living room wondering whether to build a website around a little idea that kept niggling in my brain. In the end I decided that I would launch a page and stage one gig in my backyard to see if this little idea had any legs...

We're growing up.

We're growing up.

Fast forward 12 months and Parlour has staged over 100 gigs all around the country with some of the best artists around  (in our opinion) — Lisa Mitchell, Dan KellyOh MercyTin Pan OrangeHarry James AngusJen Cloher and The Mae Trio to mention some favourites. We’ve done gigs in kitchens, wool sheds, living rooms, rooftops and backyards — lots of backyards.

We’ve also paid more than $50,000 to artists in all walks of life  - from those just starting out  to  those that regularly sell out their own headline tours. We’ve been featured in major media — Sydney Morning Herald, Tonedeaf ABC News — to name a few. Oh and I also met my co-founder, now great friend, Glenn Luck — a brilliant content creator — whose content has been so integral to our growth this year. Weirdly enough, he lived a few houses down from me in Melbourne. 

Holy Days at the Church of Bang Bang Boogaloo, Melbourne. 

Holy Days at the Church of Bang Bang Boogaloo, Melbourne. 

I can still remember pitching Parlour to a family friend that had been quite successful in business and being told that it was a waste of time. He stared me straight in the eyes and said that nobody would ever want to open their home for a local artist — not one person.

I have to admit — I was actually really scared. But something spurred me on. A big part of it was wanting see change for myself. I had played the music game and not succeeded. Like countless other emerging artists - I worked hard at it - but I rarely made a profit. Correction — I never made a profit.

And it hasn’t been all smooth sailing. We’ve made some mistakes - rookie errors I suppose you’d call them. Starting a business is hard — the hardest thing I’ve ever done in fact. But it’s by far the most rewarding.

Early Days - Rowena Wise at Ellsa's place: Canning st, Carlton North.

Early Days - Rowena Wise at Ellsa's place: Canning st, Carlton North.

At the end of the day — we’re here to help solve a problem. We're not the only answer - but we believe we're one of them. 

Parlour exists because the time has come for change in the music industry. 

Fact: 45% of musicians are earning below the minimum wage in Australia. And 87% of musicians supplement their income with a second job .

So what? I hear you say. You want to make art? Deal with the reality. It's a tough life if you choose it.

I don’t agree. We can do better. 

We know that there is significant interest in investing in emerging talent. Over 85% of Parlour hosts ask us to recommend a local artist to them for their Parlour gig. I could never have believed this when I first launched Parlour. That’s most people saying — “I want to discover music around me — I’m just not sure how.”

The average Parlour artist makes $500 per gig. And for an emerging artist — that’s the way it should be. Writing songs, recording and touring is hard, expensive work and it's a service that should be rewarded fairly. 

Dan Kelly at the Parlour Winter Series, Melbourne, VIC.

Dan Kelly at the Parlour Winter Series, Melbourne, VIC.

There is a huge pool of brilliant talent just around the corner waiting to be discovered. The next artist you fall in love with could be in your postcode. We want to help you find them. 

One of the hardest things to watch this year has been the lack of Parlour gigs for all the artists that have signed up to play. Almost 3000 artists from around the country have registered, and because of lack of resources , we’ve only been able to connect a very small percentage of them with hosts. That hurts — and we’re sorry. But we’re going to change that in 2016.

Here’s how:

For the past 3 months we’ve been working on our very first app. This will allow you to log in, connect with artists’s all over the country, create gigs and sell tickets to your Parlour gig. This platform will enable Parlour gigs to happen any time, any place — that’s more artists getting paid properly, more often. We're launching it for you in March this year. 

Lisa Mitchell at House of Neeko, Abbotsford, VIC. 

Lisa Mitchell at House of Neeko, Abbotsford, VIC. 

And it’s not just about the artists. The heart of Parlour   is its hosts. The way a Parlour gig comes together at the hands of a caring host is a beautiful thing to behold. Glenn and I are constantly amazed and how different every gig is — one host recently hung polaroids from his clothesline (!!!) — another made the best cocktails we’d ever had — another simply moved her furniture around and turned down the lights - it was still magic . Music transforms spaces. Something happens when people get together in a space — any space — to hear live music. Parlour gigs are a source of pride for our hosts — and we’re so thrilled that we can empower them to realise their vision. 

Oh Mercy at the Parlour Winter Series, Melbourne, VIC.

Oh Mercy at the Parlour Winter Series, Melbourne, VIC.

In a few short months Parlour will be a fully realised online platform — for local music discovery and gig creation. It’s our hope that we can make Parlour gigs the norm. For hosts, it’s a way to enrich friendships and share something new and special with the people you care about. For artists, it’s a gig like no other — a chance to connect with listeners in a truly intimate way — not to mention you’ll be paid properly for your work.

Are you in Melbourne? Join us for our 1st Birthday Party on Jan 31st.