Songkick raises £6.3m from Sequoia

Sequoia Capital, the VC that backed Google and PayPal in the early days, has taken its first punt on a British start-up: live music website, Songkick.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 14 Mar 2016
Founded by Ian Hogarth, Michelle You and Pete Smith out of the back of Hogarth’s parents’ attic in 2007, Songkick has completely reinvented the music ticketing business. More than a common or garden gig listing, Songkick alerts fans as soon as their favourite bands announce concerts and the site is sticky as hell, packed with reviews, photos, and videos.

The site currently receives more that five million visitors every month, with over 100,000 concerts currently live on the site. It’s the biggest live music site after Ticketmaster, and is a massive sales driver for the industry and the myriad ticketing sites (think Ticketmaster, TicketWeb and Eventbrite, among others) that sell the actual gig tickets. Like other online affiliates, Songkick is an online one-stop-shop on a single theme with outbound links to various partners. Songkick isn’t a merchant; it earns a tiny kickback for every ticket sold.

You can see why Sequoia, which focuses on disruptive, high-growth and viral business, was enamoured with this hot little start-up. ‘When people start using Songkick, they go to almost twice as many gigs,’ explains Hogarth. ‘Millions of people [are] using our service. It isn’t a niche thing. It’s really mainstream.’

Songkick also has plenty of tech credentials, with an iPhone app and partnerships with all the big players in online music, from Youtube to Soundcloud. Plus, it was one of the launch partners for Spotify. In the music business, as in technology, much of your street cred comes from the company you keep.

Songkick will use the cash from Sequoia and the other investors in the round (existing VCs Index Ventures and Y Combinator, and angels Alex Zubillaga and Passion Capital’s Stefan Glaenzer, are upping their stakes) to grow the firm’s West Coast base. The start-up also needs to recruit more staff pretty sharpish – it only has 27 on the payroll at the moment. But there is also talk of using technology to extend the gig experience for customers beyond the hour or two spend in a sweaty venue. How? Hogarth is keeping schtum. ‘We have to be a bit tight-lipped,’ he admits.

And are the Songkick founders proud of breaking Sequoia’s UK-phobic portfolio? ‘They've invested in us despite where we are,’ says Hogarth. ‘The bar is much higher if you want to get investment from a west-coast Valley VC if you're in London.’

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