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Students launch company, create platform for musicians and event planners

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Two students are on a mission to make musician booking in Milwaukee a lot easier.

Their startup company, BookLive, is a platform for musicians and event planners to book events quickly and smoothly. The website features local bands, DJs, ensembles and soloists across genres.

Jordan Hirsch, COO and co-founder of BookLive and a senior in the College of Engineering, said he wants anyone with talent to know they can come to the site. “The more diversity we have on there, the more attractive it is to a larger array of people.”

Jared Judge, CEO and co-founder of BookLive and a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a master’s degree in orchestral conducting, said the site helps musicians handle the business side of booking.

“Musicians at every level struggle with business because, as a musician, we’re passionate about making good music. They don’t necessarily teach business at music schools, although that is increasing lately, which is a very good sign,” Judge said.

The site allows musicians to create performer profiles, post performance packages, set prices, get booked and review their client when the performance is finished.

It also allows event planners to browse through musicians based on genre, availability, price and location. After comparing various performance packages, planners can instantly book a musician and receive a response within 24 hours. Planners review the musician once the performance is finished.

The website provides step-by-step instructions for both parties involved in the booking process.

As a self-taught web developer, Judge coded the entire website.

“My degrees are all in music, not computer science at all, but when I was in middle school I taught myself how to code basic web development,” he said. “I kept up those skills and as I got more and more involved in music, I realized that I could apply those web development skills to solve real-life problems in music. It’s just been a lot of me sitting at the computer screen, sleepless nights, coding BookLive.”

Meanwhile, Hirsch is finishing up his bachelor’s in biomedical engineering. Even though the startup is taking him into the world of entertainment, Hirsch said he wouldn’t trade his engineering degree because of the critical problem-solving skills he learned at Marquette.

Hirsch and Judge originally met at the Commons Program, a Milwaukee-based collaboration between southeastern Wisconsin colleges and universities, local businesses and area entrepreneurs. The nine-week program provides mentoring experience to selected students, allowing them to form meaningful connections, according to the program website.

Before Judge met Hirsch, he competed in UW-Milwaukee’s New Venture Business Plan Competition, winning $2,000 for startup costs.

“If you know Jared, you know that he is extremely poised and credible,” Debbie Roy, manager of the UW-Milwaukee New Venture Business Plan Competition, said in an email. “He made an excellent and visually enjoyable presentation … Jared knows his business well and he has demonstrated financial success with it.”

Hirsch and Judge then applied for gBETA, a seven-week Milwaukee accelerator program for local companies in their early stages, according to the program website. Although the program did not provide the co-founders with funding, they were provided with helpful mentors and resources.

“(It was) just a really great opportunity to get involved in the local startup community. While we would’ve loved to have funding from that, it was still just a really great opportunity,” Hirsch said.

Judge said running the company has involved a lot of self-funding. He said they are trying to run lean and not spend money until they have it.

Both Hirsch and Judge are taking on tasks together, despite having separate job titles.

“Wearing many hats is kind of the name of the game at this point,” Hirsch said.

Now the company hopes to receive venture capital — financing given to startup companies with high growth — from investors.

For both Hirsch and Judge, BookLive’s meaning goes beyond business.

“BookLive is my platform to take up arms and fight for the arts and music, which I’m very deeply invested in,” Judge said.

Hirsch said the company has uncovered his passion for entrepreneurship.

“We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this,” Hirsch said. “I love seeing in general just customers having a great experience and making their life easier.”

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About the Writer
Sydney Czyzon, Managing Editor of the Marquette Tribune

Sydney is a junior from Joliet, Illinois majoring in journalism and political science.

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