Jukely founder Bora Celik used to work as a concert promoter in places like Hartford, Connecticut. So he knows how hard it can be to get people out on a Monday or Wednesday night to see up and coming artists.
“I was constantly banging my head against the wall, ‘How am I going to get people out? Nobody knows the artists I booked,’” Celik tells Billboard.
Out of that frustration Celik came up with the idea for Jukely, the paid subscription service that he hopes will become the Spotify of the concert industry. Currently in 17 cities, including London, Toronto, LA, San Francisco, New York, Portland, Denver, Austin, Chicago and more, the service allows fans to get access to any shows Jukely has tickets to for 25 dollars a month.
Jukely has seen a quick rise thanks to what Celik calls “an aggressive push” into more cities. And after raising eight million dollars this past April the company recently brought longtime music industry veteran Sarah Weiss on as head of business development. Weiss comes to Jukely from her position as head of marketing with The Bowery Presents in NYC, where she worked with Madison Square Garden, Radio City and more.
“I’ve always been a live music fan and with the advent of streaming there’s so much more music available to listeners and people who want to go see live music, but it’s also hard to decide what you want to see,” Weiss says of what attracted her to Jukely. “And Jukely helps people to make those decisions with a little more education.”
The company is also clearly ramping up in artist relations, starting to do private members only shows, which they did with Hot Chip and Jamie Lawson, the latter of which brought out surprise guest Ed Sheeran.
Between the increased artist relations, the funding and hiring of Weiss the company has a lot of imminent plans. We spoke with Celik about how Jukely will continue to expand and leverage their increasing audience.
What is Jukely today?
Bora Celik: Jukely has grown from being a service that helps out venues and promoters on the side to becoming a more important part of the equation as our membership started growing exponentially. So now we’re in 17 cities and in those 17 cities we work with more than 450 promoters, more than 500 venues and Jukely is now injected into many artists’ tours as a part of the marketing plans and the conversations with some of the more influential entities in the live business, like the agencies, the labels and the management companies. [And] we have two million artists in our database and a lot of them are always going on tour.
How do you see Jukely expanding in the next six months?
We have city managers. For instance everybody manages one or two cities and we have other people who constantly talk to agencies, labels, management companies and promoters, venues, PR people, so Sarah’s role is going to be overseeing all of these and making sure our growth and expansion is done in a very disciplined and structured way.
Where do you see Jukely expanding? Will it be first into more cities or other areas?
For now we’re gonna slow down on further cities. Starting from now until next summer we’ll still launch some cities here and there, but we probably won’t try to go past 25 or so. Instead we’re trying to develop our existing cities. We really wanted to move fast and launch in a lot of cities cause when an artist goes on tour and they give us tour dates we don’t want to be like, “Well, we can only help you in these two cities and the others we can’t do anything.” So now we can talk to the managers and say, “We can help you with eighty percent of your cities. We have this many people in this city, this many people in this city.” So now we can have that conversation. But the goal is to develop our existing cities in terms of members and also establish more relationships.
Since Jukely is working with artists would the company want to become involved behind the scenes in tours?
We’re doing that already, we’re sponsoring festivals, we’re sponsoring tours, we started putting on our shows. Jukely has taken the position as Switzerland where we work with all the different promoters. We’re very careful so what we do doesn’t compete with the promoters. We have a couple of Jukely stages at festivals or for instance the band You Blew It! went on tour and they came to us and said would Jukely like to sponsor our tour, we said sure. So we’ve been doing a lot of stuff like that. So basically we work with old stakeholders whose livelihood depends on filling the show. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the venue or promoter, agencies have a huge stake in this. That’s why a lot of agencies started getting their tour marketing department, they’d hire people from promoters to work in their tour marketing department to make sure more people go to the show cause as a result the artist makes more money.
How does Jukely get their tickets?
We have city managers, we have partnership managers, so if it’s done at a promoter or venue level our city managers email all day long. They have all of their tour dates, some of these shows are selling out, some of them are not selling out, and basically we have financial arrangements with all our promoters. We’re going to them and saying, “Look, we have a subscription thing, we’re going to be partners with you, we’re going to share these revenues.” We have a split that we decide on, we keep some of it and at the end of the month the other goes to our promoter partners. So in the end who gets paid is basically who’s paying for the artist. In some cases an outside promoter does an event for the venue and our contract is with them. In another case the venue has an in-house promoter and they’ve booked the artist so they are paying for it, they’re taking the risk and our arrangement is with them. And in some cases the agency says, “We have this artist touring 11 cities, what can you do for us?” It becomes like a barter for us, we’d like them to hook up our members with passes to the show and we’re gonna help you with your ticket sales. That’s how that works.
What is Jukely’s priority going forward?
As we’re growing our biggest influence goes to emerging artists. For us, what’s really interesting is that the live music business has been the same way for a very, very long time with the same players and whatnot. And the way it’s going is the streaming services have been making the music business smaller, the recording industry has been stabilizing at about 20 billion per year and the live music business has been increasing one or two billion per year and this year it’s like 30. So it’s increasing, but the question is how come live music is not hundreds of billions. So the business model innovation here is interesting because now it’s bringing new people who normally wouldn’t go out and increasing the overall size of the live music business. Obviously we haven’t even completed a year subscription service so we’re not big enough yet to make a dent in the overall business, but the direction and the angle we chart is going up, it looks like it’s poised to make a dent.
So our goal is for Jukely to be at the center of bringing more people out to see new and emerging bands that people are discovering through streaming services like Spotify. You’re listening to more bands, you’re being exposed to more artists. So there are more fans now, there are more people to go and see artists that they normally wouldn’t see because the concept of a fan has changed. Fans have gone from being in love with five bands to being in love with 30 bands because of the streaming system. So that opens a new opportunity for us. Jukely lives off that, how do we find ways to introduce people to these emerging artists? Our average member goes to two or three concerts per month.