When Sarah Figueroa founded Geojam her idea was to connect music fans with each other by encouraging them to share the music of their favorite artists. Prior to March 2020, when people happily and routinely gathered in large numbers in tightly packed concert venues, she saw the company strategy as revolving around live music. After years of building the company, 2020 looked to be the tipping point for fast growth. She had events lined up at campus concerts nationwide and was angling for a presence at many music festivals. Where better for Geojam to connect music fans that at concerts?
As it turned out, when the covid-19 pandemic cancelled concerts – and all other large public gatherings – Sarah Figueroa pivoted the company strategy to digital but, perhaps more fundamentally, she changed the focus from connecting fans with each other to connecting fans with their favorite artists. Fans can win award points for engaging with artists through social media, and fans who accumulate the most points win the opportunity for live interactions with their favorite artists. Fans are currently competing for a FaceTime call with Dylan Matthew and to play video games with Gray, among other friendly competitions featured on the Geojam website. The company had a successful 2020, even managing to raise funds while pivoting, and appears set to resume its live concert strategy as music venues reopen.
We asked Sarah Figueroa about pivoting during the pandemic, raising funds, and mixing digital and analog media when that is the right combination.
GD: What was your pre-pandemic vision for Geojam?
Sarah Figueroa: Before COVID, our vision was similar to what it still is today, which is to connect people through music, but the way we saw that materializing was certainly through in-person events before the pandemic hit. We were planning a nationwide college campus tour and were going to have a significant presence at music festivals all over the country, which of course, were put on hold. Given these changes, we had to pivot to a more digital strategy, which has actually grown our platform in ways we could have never predicted.
GD: How did the pandemic change things for Geojam?
Sarah Figueroa: We were in a situation where we had to shut down our in-person growth strategies, which forced us to take a hard look at our platform and our growth model. We started to focus not just on exposure but instead on building a sound, digital-first app that drove value in several ways for both artists and streamers. We quickly realized that we already had multiple offerings in place that artists could tap into to increase things like fan engagement, revenue opportunities, and streaming numbers – all digitally. These digital opportunities were highly sought after by these artists in 2020, given that live events were on the shelf. Throughout the pandemic, we continued to build on digital-first ideas – this included our Jam Shop, which allows users to engage with the app for points they can redeem on unique items/experiences, and our incredible Emerging Artist program, which gives up-and-coming music talent exposure on our app to reach new audiences. Leading with a digital-first approach in 2020 allowed us to scale more efficiently while reaching broader audiences in a more impactful, pandemic-friendly way.
GD: You have a seed round coming up, right? How did you fundraise and pivot simultaneously?
Sarah Figueroa: Yes, we’re in the process of fundraising now, and my cofounders and I are always looking for partners and investors that can help grow Geojam. During the pandemic, since we had to take a close look at our model and execution strategies, investment certainly took a bit of a back seat to the usability and relevance of our product in what was then a new normal. Once we started to see engagement at scale, we knew our slightly tweaked platform had the goods to take off. At that point, we began to re-engage investors and have impactful conversations about the company’s future. Simultaneously, we saw massive interest from incredible artists like Machine Gun Kelly and 24kGoldn, who wanted to work with us. The participation of these popular artists on our platform has undoubtedly helped draw interest in the company at many different levels. We’re so excited to see how things continue to progress now that we have even more support.
GD: What are the rewards for fans who stream and participate on Geojam, and how do they earn them?
Sarah Figueroa: Our goal is to connect people through music. This means that we’re trying to have people engage with artists, share music with friends, and make the streaming experience rewarding and unique, which in turn gets others on the platform interested, and there’s a bit of a flywheel effect. Rewards are earned through the Jam Shop, where users can rack up points through engaging with friends and music on the app. Points can be redeemed for things like experiences, products, and merchandise.
GD: Tell us about the billboards of Machine Gun Kelly? How does a medium as analog as a billboard fit in with Geojam?
Sarah Figueroa: At Geojam, we are always thinking, what is going to get our fans excited? What is going to create a moment that they remember for the rest of their lives? In the middle of the pandemic, you couldn’t meet up in person. So we thought to ourselves, what can we do that’s unique but still safe? Then we said, OK, what if we let fans from around the world compete for the chance to be on a billboard with Machine Gun Kelly in Los Angeles? His fans on Geojam loved the idea and went crazy for this opportunity. Whether it’s a billboard, private jet, or the smallest thing like owning an artists’ denim jacket, it has to create a unique, authentic experience for that artists’ fanbase. Figuring out what that authentic experience is has for sure become a specialty of ours.
GD: What do you foresee for Geojam, and the music industry generally, now that the economy is reopening?
Sarah Figueroa: The state of the music industry is as strong as ever. Artists have lots of new music they are waiting to release. The live touring business will rebound to historic proportions by next year, and Geojam is helping accelerate connectivity and awareness for artists and fans more than ever before. Music is the most widely consumed form of media, and with Geojam, the world now has a platform to connect with their favorite artists, friends, and fans just like them.
The post Founder Sarah Figueroa Tells How Geojam Thrives by Connecting People Through Music appeared first on Grit Daily News.