This South African startup makes it easy for musicians and bands to get paid for a gig!


Fitchfork, a Sandton based startup is an example of a company attempting to disrupt the traditional agency model. It lets a musician or band manage their bookings and receive payment online before they play the gig. The website is a user friendly, intuitive, and secure means for musicians to process a booking and securely receive payment, all from the convenience of their personal devices.

Managing bookings through a mix of calendars, spreadsheets, emails, text messages, phone calls, a minefield of contracts, invoices, and old-school payments. Organising the logistics of the venue and securing deposit payments… This is a nightmare many South African musicians face on a daily basis, a nightmare that with the use of Fitchfork they no longer have to suffer through.

In addition to making it easier to manage bookings, Fitchfork aims to improve pay and conditions for the musicians themselves by removing the need for an agent (and replacing) the traditional agency middle person. ”Musicians are tired of being ripped off by traditional agents who take a large cut and often don’t have the musicians’ best interests at heart,” says Esteé Claasen – Head of Community. “Fitchfork brings transparency to an industry that desperately needs it”.

The site works as follows:

  1. Find the perfect musician:
  • Event hosts browse a list of musicians’ profiles which includes their performance packages, how far they are willing to travel, when they can perform, reviews from previous event hosts, and most importantly videos of them performing live.
  • Once the host has found their musician they submit a booking request directly to the musician. Providing details about their event for the musician to review when processing the booking.
  • Musicians and hosts have 72 hours to complete the booking, after which the request will automatically expire. Musicians have the freedom to accept or decline a booking request. Accepting a request opens up a direct messaging channel between the host and the musician to discuss any further logistical details about the event.
  • Payment is then processed via Fitchfork, which adds a 10 percent service fee along the way. The money is held in escrow until the musician has performed at the event. This is a mechanism to protect the host from musicians failing to perform at the event – Fitchfork reimburses the host 100 percent of their money in this scenario.
  1. Broadcast your event:
  • Event hosts create an audition, providing details around the event and the type of genres they are looking for. Fitchfork then takes that information and sends out an alert to matching musicians and bands that are registered on its website.
  • Musicians can then apply to play at the event with their Fitchfork profile.
  • Event hosts shortlists the ones they like and decline the ones they don’t. Confirm and pay once; and Fitchfork does the allocations to the selected musicians. Money is kept in escrow until the musicians has performed, following this Fitchfork transfers the money directly into the musicians’ bank accounts.

Keeping the money in escrow is a trusted way in which Fitchfork ensures that the musicians get paid before the gig and the host is protected should circumstances change for the musicians on the day of the event. Musicians get 100 percent of the money they quoted and Fitchfork gets 10 percent.  “Our model works for both our business and the musicians – we only make money when the musicians make a lot more, and that to us is fair” says Esteé.

“In the current musical climate, self-promotion is vital. We see Fitchfork as something that can really help in that regard – we are offering every musician, for free, a super-connected online presence that lets them show what they do, what they want to do musically, and get paid without the fuss of traditional methods. That to us is very important” added Esteé.

Fitchfork is available free around the world – online or from a mobile phone or tablet.