We are back with the Building The Community Series! While we've had the pleasure of interviewing individuals who are videographers, podcast hosts, managers, label heads, founders of entertainment brands, hat companies etc. this is the first time interviewing the founder of a Music Tech startup. TipSee Music is such a cool and innovative idea to maximize a show, for not only the fans and music lovers, but it also has benefits for the artist and band performing. This "drunk friendly" web based app has made live music more interactive and helps make everyone's life easier. I sat down with Dallas Jackson and talked about the multiple career paths that led him to Nashville, the hurdles and successes of TipSee Music and his bright vision for the future of Live Entertainment.
Dallas describes his company as..."TipSee Music is a company which focuses on an easy payment system for musicians. It takes in Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay, debit/credit card and such through one unique QR code that is specific to the artist. The system helps artists monetize their setlist so they can set prices for their song. For example, "Free Bird" is going to be $100, your average song in Nashville is $20, but we encourage artists to have some kind of variety; $5, $10 etc. so when people come in they scan the QR code and can help control the experience for both the artist and crowd. It's what I like to call "drunk friendly" to make the artist's life easier. It can be difficult for the singer or someone in the band to have to walk around every 10-15 minutes with the tip bucket, negotiate with the crowd who puts in $5 and wants to hear "Free Bird" or a song the band doesn't know. The performer either has to find a song they do know or if the transaction is through Venmo, you have to figure out which patron requested the song. As every band runs their show a different way, TipSee is a way to control the experience, fill that void and is a way to monetize while taking some burden off of the artists."
I am really excited to see the future for TipSee Music, Dallas Jackson and everything he is cooking up.
Get To Know Dallas
"I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida and lived there most of my life until I went to college at Florida State. Go Noles! I then moved back to Jacksonville. I went to school for Political Science and briefly worked at the Florida State capitol, realizing quickly that I didn't want to work in that world. Immediately after college I went to work for Fidelity Investments. I did really well there and really liked Fidelity as a company, but wasn't hitting my personal goals. Went across the street to Merrill Lynch and they gave me some corporate promises which I learned were empty promises.
I had been going to Nashville with my dad and some friends and absolutely fell in love with the city. Told myself that I would love to move to Nashville, but didn't know if I would ever have an opportunity or reason to. Out of nowhere, a dream position that was a new role at Merrill Lynch came up and the posting was in a brand new building in downtown Nashville. I knew that was a sign, so I went for it. That's what brought me to Nashville. As I said before, the corporate world just wasn't for me. Once again, there were many empty promises that never got fulfilled. But it got me to Nashville. I've been told to follow your passion and if you are going to spend all your time, money and effort in a company, do it around something you're passionate about. That is what got me to start TipSee Music. From there, I got really immersed in the startup world.
My friend started a blockchain ticketing startup called Relic Tickets, and I was an early investor. I am going to be more involved in that venture soon - working the venue side of things and helping get the company out there. About a year from now, me and a few partners are coming together for a big music festival (TBA). There are going to be experiences associated with it which we will announce later. It will be a music festival like you've never seen before."
Q & A With Dallas Jackson
Q: How did you come up with the idea for TipSee Music and how did this journey start for you?
A: "Initially when I moved to Nashville I was launching a division for Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor. But I was at my wits end with the whole Corporate America thing and had always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I had many different ideas. One of the reasons I moved to Nashville was because I loved live music and everything about it. I admired the up and coming artists and how hard they work. I remember the first time I came to Nashville and saw the effort the artists put in. What I try to tell people who aren't in the music industry is that if you have a bad Monday, go into work and slack off, I think it's a pretty common thing. But when you're a live musician and that is your job, you can't afford to slack off and half ass it because that's how you are paying the bills, keeping those gigs running and money coming in. Watching artists have to walk around with a tip jar and negotiate with drunk people, it's the same thing every week, every show. I saw it as a problem and wanted to solve it. I wanted to create a company that's artist-centered and go from there.
Initially I started with the mobile app build, which I've been messing with since 2019. I went with some developers from overseas and ended up being my own project manager and translator, everything. While working in finance, then being up from midnight until 2 in the morning communicating with people who barely spoke English, a 45 day build took 9 months. By that time, I looked at the app and realized that nobody is going to walk into a venue and download a mobile app. During COVID, live music had stopped. It was kind of a blessing that QR codes were blowing up. I talked to my friend in the tech world and found that web based apps work. I pulled the plug on the mobile app immediately and restarted. The web based app doesn’t require someone to come to a show and download an app. They simply scan the QR code and go back to drinking a beer and having a good time. That was the product we had going into last year. This year it's been great. We have a 99.9% efficiency rate when it comes to processing thousands of transactions, which coming from the finance world is impressive. So far so good... to this point we've been happy with what's been built and what's coming next."
Q:What is your vision for TipSee Music?
A: "Immediately, we want to continue bringing on artists since we had that on pause for a little bit. I recently brought on a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and CMO (Chief Marketing Officer). We are growing things and getting a little more tailored for the future. We are also bringing on business partners, strategic partners and investors to grow this product into different lanes in the music industry. I can't elaborate on these right now. What TipSee Music is and always will be, is putting the artists first. I never want to take money away from the artist, but try to make them more money and make their life easier. Also, we are going to relaunch our podcast "The TipSee Music Happy Hour" with my good friend Drew East. That will be coming out soon. We will also be doing more events which will be announced later this year. I'm the COO of an upcoming 120,000 person music festival. TipSee Music will be directly involved in that music festival in 2024."
Q: Most memorable moments so far with TipSee Music?
A: "The first writer's round we did with Emily Gene Baldridge and Six String Sessions at Tin Roof Broadway was great. We love doing the events. Did some with Operation Light Shine with Matt Murphy and his charity which was great. Did those at some good venues like The W Nashville which was probably our biggest event. Also, I like the way TipSee Music has spread organically. I've never done much advertising, but we’re starting to get some exposure as far as Boston from our friends at the boots and whiskey podcast. We have a great artist Will Carter who is in Houston, Texas and travels around the state. We are starting to get some traction in Florida. It's really cool to see these little wins. For me it's all about being honest and transparent and making sure the focus of this company is putting the artist first. With new technology, there are always hurdles and having that transparency really helps keep things running. I like to have a handshake relationship with everyone on the TipSee platform.
My favorite thing about TipSee Music is seeing artists do well and being able to provide them opportunities playing our writer's rounds or helping them book different places. Seeing these artists win and be successful feels good."
Q: What advice do you have for anyone who's trying to become an entrepreneur and start their own podcast, business, service, etc.?
A: "First, the way I approach everything. There are many things I do now that I didn't before. I take the approach that everything in life is just a series of steps. It may be intimidating if you are looking at step 596, but just start with step 1 and then go to 2..3..4. Go from there, figuring out how to get to that next step. Once you get used to that idea mentality, it becomes easier."