The lives of Jess Bumsted and her partner Megan Sicignano are “completely centered around the music scene,” Bumsted said.
When it came time to work on a final project for their industry major at Drexel University, both seniors decided to create an app called TourLodger. The app aims to help touring bands reduce the hassle and cost of touring by connecting them with fans who want to host them.
“The worst part about touring is not knowing where you are going to stay that night,” said Robert Blackwell, a member of the band’s Reward and Maxamillion Raxatrillion, and a senior media studies and production major. “You go to a place you’ve never been, you do business with people you’ve never met and then you have no idea where you are going to sleep.”
It’s an issue Bumsted has seen firsthand—she’s played music her whole life and now works at a music venue.
“There is a huge band scene at Drexel and it’s kinda the weekend social life,” Bumsted said. “There are so many friends in bands I have that are in need of a place to stay. And there are these services, but none specifically for a band.”
At this point, due to a lack of funds, Bumsted and Sicignano have not yet launched the app itself. They are, however, matching band members with hosts. These hosts are friends, or connections these friends have, Bumsted said.
Bumsted and Sicignano took an entrepreneurship class in their junior year with their current project advisor Rob Weitzner. In this class, they created a business plan for TourLodger. When they told their friends in bands about the idea, everyone loved it, Bumsted said.
Every Drexel senior does a project. Based on the responses TourLodger received, Bumsted and Sicignano decided to continue the idea from junior year as their project.
They have been working seriously on the idea since October. Because it’s their senior project, they have continued to meet with Weitzner in efforts to stay on track, Bumsted said. Because he is an experienced entrepreneur, Bumsted said Weitzner has been helpful with the two seniors’ “first entrepreneurial pursuit.”
Currently, there are already a few apps performing similar functions as TourLodger, like Couchsurfing. However, TourLodger will offer features Couchsurfing does not.
“In this app we are trying to give them a platform where there is an exchange,” Bumstead said, like tickets to the show, or money offered to the host.
The significance of the app is also in the safety precautions being taken, Bumsted said. Bumsted has known musicians who were put in uncomfortable situations when scrambling to find a place to crash.
“A band that I have worked with in the past … had a very bad Couchsurfing experience,” Bumsted said. “It basically turned out that they don’t believe that anyone who was in the house actually lived there. They were shown to a garage with one mattress for a five piece band, and the hosts kept trying to get them to do random drugs.”
When they try to find hosts in other cities, Bumsted and Sicignano hope to have local friends screen the potential hosts in order to eliminate issues Bumsted has seen other bands encounter.
“We eventually plan on Skype interviewing our hosts,” she said. “We want to see where they live, what’s going on and just make sure everything is OK.”
Bumsted and Sicignano want to develop a community with TourLodger that will help small, local bands who want to travel.
“I think it is even better than getting a hotel because you meet fans and people who want you to stay there,” said Ian Louda, a senior film major at Temple and drummer in the band Tasty Face.
Bumsted and Sicignano’s concern at this point is funding to develop the website and the app itself. In an effort to reach this goal, the pair launched a Kickstarter campaign, looking to raise $2,500 by May 5.
“All you need is one popular band to use it and post about it on social media and it will take off,” Louda said.
Bumsted agrees. She wants word to get out. The Kickstarter is about raising funds, but also raising awareness, Bumsted said.
“Honestly, I just read up about this,” Blackwell said. “I want to text my friends who are going on tour and say, ‘This is a thing that is going to exist soon. This is amazing.’”
Lila Gordon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.