Midemlab Winner TrueLinked: A One-Stop Platform for Classical Musicians

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Courtesy of Midem
Sune Hjerrild

Classical music is not the most common topic of discussion at Midem, but TrueLinked, a platform created specifically to aid the interaction of classical musicians with bookers and arts organizations, was the winner in the distribution & discovery category of Midemlabs, Midem’s competition for start-ups. The mix of site (TrueLinked.com) and social network provides a direct line of content between artists looking for gigs and buyers, events and venues looking to hire.

We spoke with founder and CEO Sune Hjerrild, an opera singer who created the platform to fill the void in his own career.

Life before TrueLinked: Hjerrild is an opera singer who graduated from the Cophenhagen Royal Opera in 2002 and has an international career. "I found out the hard way what it means to out there on your own,” says Hjerrild, who auditioned for an agent in France and immediately got to work. When she closed her agency, her contacts -- and his gigs -- also shut down in that country. “It was obvious to me that if the agent kept all the connections, that was a dead end. And that’s just one example.”

What it does: TrueLinked is a “procial” community (professional and social) that allows arts organizations to find artists. “We call ourselves a Google of performing arts,” Hjerrild says, and only professional working acts are allowed to join, free of charge. Acts create online profiles that are accessed directly by those booking, eliminating the need for an agent or middleman. A search brings up candidates based on an algorithm that matches their data and repertoire to the specific job or part. TrueLinked has an office that takes care of contracts and negotiations.

Why we love it: There is no other tool like this for working artists and most definitely not for classical artists, whose realm is based largely on personal connections. TrueLinked expands the horizon for both sides.

The business model: TrueLinked charges a 6 percent commission per contract. There is no fee to join.

Who uses it: Currently more than 3,000 artists and arts professionals (including lighting directors, conductors and stage directors) and 160 presenters.

Results to date: The bulk of business comes from Europe, but clients are beginning to pop up in Asia, Latin America and the U.S., including the Seattle Opera.

Goal: To reach 150,000 users in less than five years. “Be the leading marketplace for classical music so we can get rid that intransparent market where no one knows where the next job is going to be. Here you’re in full control. And it goes for both sides,” says Hjerrild.