This article explores the new ins and outs of Sparkplug, a resource which allows artists to make money by renting out instruments and space to fellow artists, as well as save money by renting space and gear from same said artists.
Guest post by Jennifer Newman Sharpe, CEO and founder of Sparkplug
Make money renting out your instruments; Save money on tour or in the studio by renting from a fellow artist.
In order to better support and invest in their art, musicians are often interested in new, innovative ways that they can make or save money, especially while supporting their community. Sparkplug (www.sparkplug.it) offers all of those opportunities: artists make money renting out their instruments, gear, and space, and save money by renting from local musicians and small businesses. You can connect with other artists all over the world renting via Sparkplug. Plus, all of your rentals are in one place, making it a lot easier to keep track of details and communications while you’re on the road.
Interested in learning more? Here is an in depth overview of Sparkplug, which answers our most frequently asked questions. Of course, feel free to head over now and take a look around for yourself.
So, how does Sparkplug work?
Sparkplug is an online, community marketplace – similar to Airbnb, for example – where musicians and local businesses offer their instruments, equipment, and space (like rehearsal rooms or studios) for rent. It only takes 3 minutes to start renting out your gear.
Need to rent something? Search our inventory and send reservation requests or inquiries to the owners. You can also request custom packages and send your rider directly to a Sparkplug Shop. Once a reservation is confirmed by the owner, you’re then charged for the reservation fees and the refundable security deposit.
How much will I get paid?
When you create a listing, you set your own prices. Once you have a confirmed reservation for your gear, 24 hours after the rental starts, the reservation fees are deposited directly into your bank account.
You can also offer custom pricing and packages for individual renters, by either sending them an invitation to book a custom reservation or by modifying a request before you accept it. If you’re a Sparkplug Shop (more info below), you can receive riders and backline requests and put together custom packages for that renter.
In addition to connecting you with musicians from around the world, Sparkplug also helps when renting to your existing community. Remember that time you loaned your Nord to your bandmate’s cousin for a weekend? Next time, just send him to your Sparkplug listing, and you can make a little money for your effort while knowing that communications, security deposits, and payments are taken care of by Sparkplug.
How is my gear protected?
Sparkplug charges and holds a security deposit during the course of the rental. After you get the item back, you have 24 hours to inspect it for damage and report it to us. Assuming we haven’t heard anything otherwise, the security deposit is automatically refunded to the renter 24 hours after the rental ends. If there is a legitimate, reported issue, we can pull from the security deposit to cover the cost of repair or replacement, and we’re authorized contractually to charge up to the full value of the rented items to the renter’s credit card.
We have anti-fraud tools built into our platform via our payment processing company in addition to internal fraud checks we have implemented, specific to Sparkplug.
Our feedback system allows you to read reviews of a prospective renter’s prior rentals. Sparkplug also makes it easy to communicate with prospective renters before confirming a rental, so you can learn more about their music, how they plan on using your gear, discussing delivery or pick up logistics or gear questions, etc.. Ultimately, it’s up to you, so you always get to approve a rental before it’s confirmed.
We surveyed our members who rented out their gear over SXSW (our busiest time of year!) in 2016 and 100% of owners said they felt safe renting out their gear through Sparkplug. Not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but 100% of owners and renters said they would recommend Sparkplug.
What are Sparkplug Shops?
Sparkplug Shop pages are for members who want to tap into special features like a custom URL, a backline/order request submission form, placement at the top of searches, and a different ordering process which makes it easy to put together large rental packages. They are often a local backline company or studio or they may just be a musician with a great collection. It’s free to set up a Sparkplug Shop and brings more traffic to your listings.
Why should I rent from Sparkplug?
Sparkplug is a great way to make money as a musician, but it’s also a great resource for your rental needs when on the road or in the studio. If you’ve ever rented backline for a whole tour you know what a headache the traditional process can be: searching for local backline companies or scouring Craigslist in each market (and then, trying to track down a gear or price list to figure out if they’ll even work for your needs), keeping track of tons of individual emails, not knowing what the prices should be or whether you’re getting gouged… we can go on and on.
Sparkplug is a marketplace, so you can browse all of our listings, with transparent pricing, across many markets. Renting through Sparkplug is also usually a lot less expensive than going with a traditional backline company. And with all of your reservation information and communications in one central place, you don’t need to dig through your inbox for hours trying to find the backline company’s address. Perhaps most importantly, you’re meeting other musicians from around the world, expanding your network and keeping it “in the family.”
Is Sparkplug in my area?
Sparkplug is live across the US, Canada, UK, all Eurozone countries, Hungary, Australia, and New Zealand. If you live outside of those areas, you can still rent from Sparkplug wherever we’re live, but we only accept listings in these countries at the moment. Although we have listings in over 200 cities across 11 countries, our biggest markets are currently Austin and New York. We’re rapidly growing in other areas like Los Angeles and London. If you don’t see what you need on the site, you’ll have an opportunity to submit a request for us to find it for you, or send us your backline request and we’ll find what you need.
We’ve seen our community grow exponentially from our members’ word of mouth. If you don’t see many listings in your area on Sparkplug, you can help create and grow your own inventory by spreading the word, sharing Sparkplug and your listings on social media (this also helps get you more rentals), and inviting friends to join Sparkplug. When your friend joins, they get 10% off their first rental and you get 10% off your next rental, just for inviting them.
Is there a Sparkplug mobile app?
We’re scheduled to release our mobile app in early 2017, so sign up and keep an eye out for an announcement email from us very soon.
Sparkplug was founded by musicians and music industry professionals who wanted to help other musicians more easily and affordably rent gear, while giving them a new way to make money and connect with each other. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for more information.