Finding new ways to keep the Austin music scene alive has become more difficult, though the city has been finding ways to keep it going, such as the latest project from the Cultural Arts Division that focuses on cultural assets throughout the city by placing them on a map.
On the technology side, in comes Spot Caller, a new music app based in Austin and founded by Austinite Dave Blue. The name’s inspiration came from a play on the phrase “shot caller,” like someone who calls the shots and always has the right info when people are in need.
We took some time at Hotel San Jose to talk with Blue about the app and his plans to grow the company. Blue, it turns out, is a pure entrepreneur in the truest sense. He has been living and working out of Austin hostels for the past 11 months without access to a car. Amazingly, this simple lifestyle is something that Blue claims to enjoy, and even calls it one of the inspirations for keeping Spot Caller a simple app with a clean, sleek website.
“I went to college in New Zealand and got hooked on electronic music there,” Blue said. “This was back in 2004-2005, when I was continually frustrated hearing about cool events and parties that you could go to, but after the fact. I found myself hitting the same four spots all the time and I wanted to make it easy to become an ‘insider.’ It’s not a super fancy idea… but the execution is where it’s all at. I was just more frustrated with the lack of execution for the current apps of the time. I had the bug in my ear for Spot Caller starting in about 2009, when I started working on other projects.”
After working in Cincinnati for a while, which Blue called “a place to live inexpensively,” he found his calling in Austin thanks to the urging of an adviser. “You want me go to a place where people say ‘yes’ and who are opening to new things,” this person told him. And while he wasn’t intimately familiar with the challenges the Austin music scene faces, Blue knew this is the live music capital of the world. So, “I figured that Austin would be a good place to go next.”
“I didn’t start working on Spot Caller properly until the beginning of 2015,” he added. “I just decided to give it one more shot and keep things really simple, as it says on the app and website. My main focus is the fans with an emphasis on the local scenes around the world and the cool unheard bands instead of like Coldplay or Rihanna, though occasionally you might see those kinds of acts on the app.”
Spot Caller keeps it simple on the staffing side too, with Blue being the company’s only full-time employee. And instead of going and shoveling the data himself, Spot Caller uses software to pull data from social media, where the information is already being posted.
“The artist doesn’t have to create a separate profile or create the individual events on the app because they are always going to post something from Facebook or Twitter, and so Spot Caller pulls all that information,” Blue said. “It makes it so much easier for local bands because it’s very difficult to get themselves onto the same stream that the Coldplay concert is.”
Better yet: Blue went on to say that bands also get ranked within the app depending on how well they are doing on social media. “For example,” he said, “if an event has a lot of RSVP’s and that sees an increase, that will bring bands a lot of attention on the app.”
In other words: “That could help local bands a lot,” Blue pronounced.
“There is a lot of automation that’s happening in the background, and there is a constant process going on,” he added. “It’s kind of like when Google crawls websites collecting information, in a very fast way. The server will just go to Facebook and it will be doing what a human will do, but just doing it very quickly, many times per day. There is a screening process just to make sure that all the events are musically related. Spot Caller is built around the idea of getting the event out quickly to multiple places. “
While Spot Caller only launched in February of 2016, it’s already a worth consideration when planning your night out in Austin. Believe it or not, Blue’s creation has already expanded to 40 cities all over the globe. The ultimate goal is to cover every city in every country.
While Blue does not claim to be a musician himself, but more of a music fan, he feels that it is important to cater to fans. “I take pride in saying I’m a music fan,” he said. “Spot Caller is great for discovering music.”
While Blue’s life and app might be simple, the idea of Spot Caller has big-time potential, especially thanks to its sleek execution. With Austin’s passion for music and this city’s frequent willingness to say “Yes” to new things, it’s safe to say that Blue has a great chance of this project working out. We can’t wait to see what happens next!
If you would like to read more of Lauren Gribble’s features, you can head to her website Listen Here Reviews.