When the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of musicians into their homes, JamKazam’s free monthly sessions jumped 2,600%.
After four years of investing their own money, raising $80,000 through Kickstarter and working nights and weekends, David Wilson and his two colleagues ran out of capital for their new venture: JamKazam, which allows musicians to perform together over the Internet. They drew 5,000 band sessions per month, but that wasn’t enough; Wilson, an Austin, Texas, tech-company product executive, dropped user support and stopped updating social media by 2017. All the founders returned to their day jobs.
Until March. When the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of musicians into their homes, JamKazam’s free monthly sessions jumped to 135,000. In the first week of April alone, that number grew by another 100,000. Wilson was shocked. “As soon as social-distancing started happening, it just started going nuts," he says. "We don't have the ability to provide end-user support. We have some help videos and it's like, 'Good luck.'"
Bands not playing together in the same room may not seem like the biggest inconvenience of a deadly pandemic, but artists find themselves with upcoming albums, potentially rescheduled tour dates this summer or fall and no way to teach their bands the new material. “It’s really sad, because we were supposed to be rehearsing right now,” says Jess Williamson, a singer-songwriter. Katie Von Schleicher has the same problem, and is concerned that Zoom favors “audio from one source at a time” -- the opposite of what bands do together. She hasn’t tried JamKazam, or rivals like NINJAM, eJamming, Jamulus or the Acapella app, but, she says, "It's enticing."