Tigmus: Watch this space

Oli Steadman of Stornoway is one of the minds behind Tigmus, an online database of quirky performance venues. He tells Ellie Langford about arranging gigs in churches, museums and caves

Just some of the Tigmus venues. Click right to see more. Above: The George Tavern (Photo Credits: Tigmus)

Just some of the Tigmus venues. Click right to see more. Above: The George Tavern (Photo Credits: Tigmus)

Chislehurst Caves (Photo Credit: Chislehurst Caves)

Chislehurst Caves (Photo Credit: Chislehurst Caves)

Leighton House Museum (Photo Credit: Borough of Kensington)

Leighton House Museum (Photo Credit: Borough of Kensington)

Old Operating Theatre Museum (Photo Credit: The Garret)

Old Operating Theatre Museum (Photo Credit: The Garret)

St Barnabas Church (Photo Credit: St Barnabas Church)

St Barnabas Church (Photo Credit: St Barnabas Church)

Queen Elizabeth Hall (Photo Credit: Southbank Centre)

Queen Elizabeth Hall (Photo Credit: Southbank Centre)

Southbank Skatepark (Photo Credit: fcomau)

Southbank Skatepark (Photo Credit: fcomau)

When not touring with his band Stornoway, musician Oli Steadman is working on the project he co-founded known as ‘This Is Good Music’ or Tigmus. Now two years old, the site took a while to become what it is today. “Initially we didn’t know what it was,” Oli explains. “We’ve had a music blog, we’re a commercial site, we sometimes DJ at festivals under that name, we’ve had a radio station.”

Eventually though Tigmus evolved into what Oli calls “a tool for artists and their teams to find better shows.” On Tigmus.com, venues can post their spaces, bands can book those spaces and fans can help fund the gig, while the site team work hard to ensure ticketing, licensing and advertising of the event all goes smoothly.

It was his decade touring as part of a band that inspired Oli and fellow bandmate Tom Hodgson to build this tool for musicians, claiming “we’re just artists to help other artists out there.” While travelling with Stornoway, Oli has seen that there is a niche for the tool they have created. “Everyone we come across, every support act, every venue that I show the system to, they’re all really impressed by it”, he tells me. “They see it as something that should always have been there, it’s just that the technology hasn’t been possible yet.”

Tigmus is more than just Oli and Tom, however. There is a large team of fellow musicians, music lovers and interns working on the Tigmus project to keep it alive while its founders are on tour. There is a lot of behind the scenes work to keep everything going as the site does experience lots of hiccups. “Every month or so we get a punk band applying to play the Royal Albert Hall or somebody masquerading as Radiohead”, Oli says. It’s up to the Tigmus team to make sure every band plays in the right space and to the right crowd.

Pitt Rivers Museum (Photo Credit: Pitt Rivers Museum)

Pitt Rivers Museum (Photo Credit: Pitt Rivers Museum)

While the site mainly caters for rookie bands in need of a more transparent system for booking tours, there are also hopes that it will start working for more established artists. Oli hints that Tigmus is in talks with some larger artists who are “tired of the same old standard venues and want to do something special for their fans.” This is right up Tigmus’ alley, as they offer all kinds of venues including oil rigs, churches, living rooms, warehouses, caves and old cinemas, from Paraguay to New Zealand and from Sweden to Oli’s native South Africa. This unique variety offered by the site sets it aside as the place to go for a very different kind of tour.

A recent success for Tigmus was their showcase at The Great Escape Festival, run in partnership with label Killing Moon. It was “a day where hosts of people were involved celebrating music and the future of live bookings” and saw over 20 budding young acts take to the stage over a period of 12 hours. This kind of collaboration is what Tigmusloves, Oli tells me, and gets massive reactions from all attending on the day.

Every month or so we get a punk band applying to play the Royal Albert Hall or somebody masquerading as Radiohead

Tigmus have also worked with Oxford band Balloon Ascents, helping to launch their first ever gig. The team were there with the band every step of the way, helping to promote and set up the event which turned out to be a massive success. “For a band that had never done anything before and this was their first big gig, to turn up to a sold out room with all the media we’d invited was amazing. We made every effort to give them a bit of a luxury show to be honest.” This kind of show, Oli states, is the kind Tigmus aims to give all of its users, imparting their expert knowledge to take as many small bands off the open mic circuit as possible. Their efforts work well for everyone, since “the venue that night took more than it ever would have on an empty room,” meaning all parties get a good result.

Stour Space (Photo Credit: Stour Space)

Stour Space (Photo Credit: Stour Space)

The future of the site, Oli tells me, revolves around new technology and focusing on quality service rather than unbounded expansion. “I see the future of Tigmus really being helped by having an app on people’s phones”, he explains. Though still another year down the line, this app would hopefully house paperless tickets as well as acting as a portable booking tool for budding artists. With a strong record so far and plenty of momentum, it’s fair to say that Tigmus’ tool by musicians for musicians is set to have endless potential.

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