Side Door Official Launch

Photo Credit: Scott Munn

Photo Credit: Scott Munn

Side Door was named by an artist

In March of 2017, Zolas singer Zach Gray joined us at Dan’s kitchen table where we spent an evening sipping wine and discussing this concept that we’d just spent three days brainstorming. We needed a name that conveyed the feeling of discovering a show that was unique, friendly and magical. He paused his bike ride home to text Dan, “Side Door”. That was that.

Artists have always been at the centre of our story. In fact, we were introduced by another Canadian gem, Rich Aucoin. He understood that we were both after the same thing - a more fair, transparent and easily accessible music industry. He knew that we both loved the idea of making any space a venue and keeping things simple.

As we launch our full platform, we reflect on how far we’ve come since those early days. We have had to learn so much, keep focused on the goal and remember to always put the artist first. The soul of an online community IS the platform. The tools are just tools. To have and keep the trust of the artistic community isn’t some kind of philanthropic venture - it simply ensures the strongest and most vibrant service for everybody involved.


Side Door shows are a win for everybody

We built this platform because we were chasing the feeling of connecting over a live performance in a cool space. Dan, as a young artist, made touring economically feasible and found incredible long-lasting relationships with audiences by playing house concerts. Laura worked in the industry and brought artists into her home to play, so she could share the joy of live music with her community. Over the years, she honed the process, naming her house concert series “The Syrup Factory”

“Those early experiences weren’t just about building an audience… they were about building a community.”

Those early experiences weren’t just about building an audience… they were about building a community, and furthermore, building a body of experiences that have taught us what to value in our lives: we want goosebumps as many times as possible before we die. Our goal with Side Door is to simplify the process between people seeking goosebumps and artists who are aching for the opportunity to help deliver them.

Instead of constant messaging and emailing, artists can find hosts that match with their needs, and hosts can discover artists that will fit their space and their vibe. Instead of relying on door sales, tickets can be sold online, in advance, and the money is deposited directly into everyone’s accounts. The lead-up is easy so everybody can focus on making the show magical.

Side Door shows are a win for everybody. The host gains the pride of having curated something special for their community, the audience gets a unique and intimate experience, and the artist actually makes some money and has a hope in hell of winning the hearts of a dedicated audience.

“It’s so exciting to just tell them to sign up - no barriers to entry.”

It’s hard to believe that the thing we dreamed up back in 2017 is actually alive. We’ve removed the gatekeeping. We get emails all the time now from agents and managers of emerging artists, asking how to apply to play Side Door shows, and it’s so exciting to just tell them to sign up - no barriers to entry.

We’ve sorted out a user interface that condenses and simplifies all the details of booking a show so that it’s transparent and easy to understand. Hosts and artists can check up on their shows in real time, watching the guest list grow, and seeing exactly where every penny is going to go as soon as the show is over.

Photo Credit: Scott Munn

Photo Credit: Scott Munn

A solution that made sense

In the tech world, most often what happens is that you imagine a perceived tool, then you build the tool and see if anybody likes it. We took the longer slower approach, growing our team with people who really, really cared about solving this problem, checking in with artists, hosts and audience members at every step of the process to make sure that we were actually providing a solution that made sense.

“From backyards to national parks, condos to mansions and yurts”

Although we are using the word “launch” today, it’s already a thing. Nearly 1000 artists have joined us - ranging from treasured cult favourites to emerging new stars. Nearly 300 people with spaces from backyards to national parks, condos to mansions and yurts to community halls have signed up to host live performances. We’ve booked 167 shows that have happened from New Orleans, Louisiana to Liberty, Saskatchewan and from a farm in the mountains of Vancouver Island to the backyard of a home in Newfoundland. And we have more than 100 booked into the future, expanding beyond music to bring in plays, comedy, live podcast recordings...any kind of live performance.

“We want to build something that makes the world just a little bit better”

We promise to keep gut-checking as we go. We want to build something that makes the world just a little bit better. Something that helps artists make a living, but also helps foster connective tissue through the shared experience of art.

As we mentioned before - it’s not a tool. It’s a community. We have relied on feedback from everyone involved and strive to make Side Door something that is exciting, fun, and simple to use. Keep on us.

Much love,

Dan Mangan and Laura Simpson, co-founders of Side Door