One of the biggest challenges when touring is getting your gear from place to place. You either need a van, bus or trailer big enough to pack all your heavy, oversized amps, drum kit and more, or must coordinate your touring schedule with another act in order to share equipment and resources. But wouldn't it be great if you could just show up in a city and rent—for a reasonable price—some of the gear you need?
Enter Sparkplug, a new startup that's gained a foothold in cities like New York and Austin by creating "a community marketplace where musicians and artists rent instruments, equipment and space to and from each other," explains Portland musician Peter Suk, who recently started working to develop the new network in Portland and other West Coast markets.
In China, most venues provide backlines that include amps and drums for free, requiring bands to simply get from venue to venue with the bare necessities (making travel by train a reality), and while that sort of convenience may not be an option in the US, Sparkplug aims to simplify certain aspects while helping musicians in need of a specific item, especially as its network grows.
Also, if you're an active musician in this day and age, chances are you've hoarded quite a few instruments and recording gear that are simply gathering dust. Just like posting an available room on Airbnb, Sparkplug enables musicians to set a price for renting gear, instruments or studio or practice space, and make some money in the process.
Whether renting or listing, "Sparkplug makes touring, recording and creating less expensive and more convenient, while also letting artists make money from their gear and space when it’s not in use," Suk says. And it's also a way to try out new gear you might not normally have access to, find new spaces to record or practice, or simply meet other creators in your local community or the cities you visit on tour.