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WillCall raises $1.2M to make live music a part of everyday life

Above: WillCall founder Donnie Dinch.

Image Credit: Ike Edeani

WillCall is like that cool friend that always knows where the coolest shows are happening.

The startup announced today that it has closed $1.2 million in funding to build its music discovery app. Founder and CEO Donnie Dinch said that his goal is to make going to live shows a part of your everyday life.

“Music consumption is at an all-time high,” Dinch said in an interview at WillCall’s office. “We want to facilitate the environment where it is common place for people to go see shows as often as they go to bars and coffee shops.”

WillCall’s mobile app presents a curated list of live music shows happening within a two-week period. People can read about the band, listen to tracks, buy tickets, see which of their friends are planning on going, and invite other friends. Dinch said the tight curation combined with the social features are what makes WillCall stand out.

“Cities have so much going on every night, even outside of music — new bars, restaurants, parties, movies, video games,” he said. “In this dense atmosphere, the only thing that trumps all of it is what your friends are doing. We help people plow through all the things happening on any given night by empowering taste.”

Dinch said there is a trend happening in the music world where listeners’ consumption is distributed among more artists. There are only a few that can sell 10,000 or more tickets, but many can sell 500 to 1,000. People who don’t dedicate extensive amounts of time to music research may have no idea about a great, lesser-known band coming to town. WillCall promotes discovery of new bands by only featuring events that the team feels confident about. The goal is to build a trusting relationship with consumers so that they will discover new artists through WillCall’s apps.

Dinch said the company went mobile-first because people don’t want to plan things far in advance. Mobile apps are ideal for last-minute booking because people can make decisions any time and anywhere. However any mobile company processing transactions has to create a seamless checkout experience. Drop-off rates for mobile payments are high because consumers don’t want to enter all their credit card information into their phones. As a WillCall user, I can vouch that it makes buying tickets easy.

Venues, promoters, and bands are also fans of WillCall because it helps them sell tickets, Dinch said. Part of this financing will be used to expand into markets beyond San Francisco and New York. WillCall will also use the money to add new features. It recently released the second version of the app that you can use to give tips to artists directly. Dinch said when people go to a show, they generally tip the bartenders, so why not the artists? The latest version also added package ticketing, for example a ticket, tee-shirt, and two free drinks.

Sean Parker, Coran Capshaw (founder of Red Light Management), and John Frankenheimer participated in this round, along with SVAngel, AirBnB cofounder Joe Gebbia, Oliver Jung, and Bruce Flohr. This brings WillCall’s total capital raised to $2.1 million. WillCall is based in San Francisco.

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