Side Door is the world’s marketplace for artists, spaces and audiences.
We are an “artist-first” company.
We help people become stakeholders in the world of live entertainment by removing barriers to access.
We use tech to serve the underserved and give agency to creators.
We believe that when artists are fairly compensated, their work benefits from the freedom to take risks, and that the whole world benefits from a more diverse and daring cultural landscape.
We foster community through the shared experience of art, both in-person and online.
We strive to empower a thriving global middle class of artistry.
We believe artists deserve more control and fewer gatekeepers, and that an empowered arts community will produce the most interesting, diverse and daring ecosystem of expression.
We also acknowledge that many communities are underserved locally by the arts. With Side Door, our goal is to open access to live performance - anybody can sign up to perform and host shows from wherever they are, in whatever space they have available, be it online or in person. We have learned that lifelong supporters and fans are won through the feeling of being connected - not just to the performer but to the community surrounding them.
So we at Side Door seek to help artists make a living in a nurturing environment. We are passionate about bringing people together through live performance. We hope you will join us in fostering art in your communities.
Dan Mangan & Laura Simpson
Side Door Co-Founders
We commit, as individuals and as a company, to foster an ecosystem that feels powerfully invitational. It is through embracing the underserved and underrepresented that both art and commerce can thrive. We acknowledge that historically, mainstream traditional live performance spaces have, at times, been isolating or even oppressive to marginalized groups, trauma survivors, people with disabilities or substance abuse disorders, etc.
We also acknowledge that the roots of the entertainment industry were developed within a construct that accepted misogyny, white supremacy, patriarchal power and systemic racism as unavoidable norms. We must do better. At Side Door, we believe in centering the needs of the oppressed to foster a more balanced marketplace within which honesty, truth and unbridled delight can flourish for and from all stakeholders.
Side Door Access Inc. (“Side Door”) was established in 2017 by co-founders Laura Simpson and Dan Mangan to connect artists with alternative venue spaces. They witnessed that far too many wonderfully capable and talented artists were burning out - unable to make it through the funnel of industry gatekeepers toward a sustainable career.
They knew from their respective careers in the music industry that intimate, small shows in unusual spaces with low overhead could often be just the perfect storm from which feasible touring budgets and faithful, dedicated fanbases could be born. There are many internal mottos at Side Door, but the one most quoted is: “If your footprint cannot be wide, let it be deep.”
After two years of low-tech concept proof, Side Door 1.0 was launched in early 2019. As the world adjusted to 2020’s turbulent gathering restrictions, Side Door enhanced its offering with tools and resources to facilitate live online shows - both through securely ticketed interactive fan engagement experiences, and through more traditional live-streaming tech.
Side Door foresees a new kind of arts marketplace; where live performances are decentralized from downtown urban cores; where anybody can use whatever space they have available to them to host live art; where shows are booked between perfect strangers in minutes and announced immediately; where audiences can spontaneously find meaningful & artful experiences right within their neighbourhoods and communities any day of the week; where greater municipal areas have hundreds, rather than dozens of viable performance spaces; and where artists can make a strong living doing what they love, even if they’re not famous.
Code of Conduct
Side Door encourages participants to promote and maintain a positive and equitable atmosphere where shows occur, and requires that all shows and events take place in supportive, non-threatening environments. Side Door expects all attendees, performers, hosts, staff, and service providers to act with respect for equity and inclusivity. Read more about Side Door policies here.
The Side Door terrestrial office is located in Kjipuktuk (Halifax) in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq, Wəlastəkwiyik (Maliseet), and Passamaquoddy Peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1726. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Wəlastəkwiyik (Maliseet) title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations. This treaty continues to be upheld today. At Side Door we acknowledge that our company has benefited from the colonization of this region, and we strive for respectful relationships with the stewards of this land.
Laura Simpson is a music industry professional, living with her family in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She founded The Syrup Factory, which began hosting house concerts 2011 and offering strategy and services to artists in 2015. She has been an organizer in the arts scene since she was 14, going to all-ages shows and then eventually taking live music photography and freelance writing about shows and artists. That led her to be a journalist for seven years, working for CBC and Rogers Radio. Eventually she found her way back into the music world and worked as Export Development Officer and Communications Manager for Music Nova Scotia. She has also managed and produced for the Halifax Jazz Festival, CAPACOA, and the East Coast Music Association. In 2015, Laura mentored with the top-tier music marketing team at Black Box in Los Angeles. She has juried for Music Nova Scotia, Halifax Pop Explosion, CBC Music Searchlight competition and the Junos.
Dan Mangan is a two-time JUNO award winning & two-time Polaris Music Prize listed musician and songwriter. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife and two sons. He has scored TV shows for Netflix, CBC and AMC, as well as Hector And The Search For Happiness, a feature film starring Simon Pegg. Mangan has released 5 studio LPs, a handful of EPs and has spent more than a decade touring extensively in North America, Europe, the UK and Australia. Dan got his start as a DIY artist playing house concerts and underground arts spaces. He learned early on the value that this ecosystem can bring to artists and audiences alike. To help acts on his small record label tour, Dan created a spreadsheet-based network of house concert hosts in 2015. The Madic Records House Concert Series caught the imaginations of many and was the blueprint for what has now become Side Door.