Sparkplug is a new matchmaking service, but not the kind you’re probably familiar with. Instead of dealing in love and relationships, the site tries to match those with unused musical instruments with those in need of specific gear. Sparkplug works a lot like Craigslist, except that rather than facilitating purchases, this site helps musicians rent musical instruments to each other.
Anyone who’s ever been in a band knows that instruments aren’t cheap and that emergencies will always strike when you’re least prepared. The good news is that Sparkplug is really simple to set up and start using. As a user, it’s as easy as typing in your area and the type of musical instrument you are looking for. From there, you can find something in your price range and set up a scheduled pickup and drop off time. In no time, you’ll be closer to having that instrument you need for a gig that you don’t have the cash to buy.
On the other end of things, people with instruments can post listings for their instruments on the site and see what people are willing to pay to use them for the night. For those looking to rent out their unused gear, it’s never been easier. Co-founder Jennifer Newman Sharpe mentions how in what circumstance, someone rented an acoustic guitar so his buddy could play some last minute songs at his wedding. We saw posting ranging from $570 per day for a seven piece drum set to $10 per day for a Fender jazz bass.
“We anticipated that the site would make touring and recording easier and more affordable, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how non-musicians have found it valuable as well,” she says.
Sparkplug might also be attractive to career musicians with instruments sitting around during down time. It could become another source of income while not touring or recording. The site works as an intermediary between the two parties as a way to secure payment and place a deposit on the gear in case of accident. It was a main focus for the founders as the site got off the ground.
“The research involved in devising the best way to both protect our owners and engage our renters was a longer process than any of us had anticipated,” Sharpe says. “We knew from the beginning that the site would succeed and thrive on trust, but there were a multitude of ways in which we could create a secure environment and encourage responsible, thoughtful member behavior.”
In the case of some kind of damage, Sparkplug handles the issues and communicates with both sides to reach a resolution. Transparency is encouraged through the process which also means the person renting the gear to note any on-going issues they notice. There’s bound to be some hesitation lending out instruments, especially if there’s any sentimental value to them. But there’s also lots of benefits to having a service like this, not to mention musicians not having to travel with bulky instruments when they can just rent one at their destination.
Sparkplug is definitely an interesting proposition. It’s the sharing economy finally hitting the music industry and could be a big help to both independent musicians and hobbyists alike. As of now, there might not be a lot of people sharing in your area, but if Sparkplug catches on, it just might drastically change the way musicians think of instrument ownership and touring.