Every musician knows about the predicament of finding a practice room to rehearse on a decent piano before a recital, with a larger than usual ensemble or even a dance group, without irritating their neighbors. Especially travelling musicians are often struggling for accommodations, looking for ways to make their lives easier when hauling their instruments from one end of the city to the next.
Providing assistance for musicians’ varied needs is the mission of Music Traveler. The start-up was launched in Vienna in 2017, by violinist, educator, director and comedian Aleksey Igudesman and co-founded by Julia Rhee, a classical pianist, who transitioned into asset management and venture capital.
From the get go, Music Traveler has attracted musicians and creatives, like the percussionist Lucy Landmore, Sabina Hasanova, the pianist of Trio Klavis and film director and editor Diana Aminova; who instantaneously understood its vital role in the international lives of performing artists.
Like so many ideas for great projects, the idea was born out of personal familiarity with the problem that inspired it. Igudesman shares, “I have been asked so many times by visiting musicians, if they could use my home to practice, or if I knew where they could find a place with a decent piano. Of course, I was happy to accommodate as much as possible, but I also realized there is a real market here, with a real need for many local and touring artists eager to be paired up with hosts. Alone in Vienna, there are 250.000 musicians and 400.000 households with musical instruments. With music traveler, we want to create connections, to make music for everyone possible.”
Trying to get the word out there, celebrities like Billy Joel, John Malkovich, Adrian Brody, Sean Ono Lennon, Hans Zimmer and Yuja Wang have become ambassadors for Music Traveler. As of July 2019, there are ca. 5000 registered members – travelers and hosts – with a monthly average of ca.150 new memberships. Music Traveler is growing a network, geared to span the globe, finding a musical home away from home. Outside of Austria, Music Traveler has already built a presence in Germany and Switzerland. Next launches are planned for Italy (Rome and Milan) U.K.(London) Japan (Tokyo) and the US (New York, San Francisco, Austin Nashville)
Yuja Wang “rehearses” in one of Music Traveler’s studio.
STEINWAY Austria has been a partner of Music Traveler from the beginning, recognizing the added value of the concept and has supported Music Traveler’s offerings, with five beautiful grand pianos at several locations, at discounted conditions for Music Traveler.
In the Music Traveler app, you can find the description of the place (size and accommodations), gear (instruments, recording equipment), and possible practice days and hours. From a simple practice room with a piano, to a sophisticated dance rehearsal hall and recording studio, Igudesman thought of all the variations musicians and performers could possibly be looking for while locally searching for an ideal practice space.
Another facet of Music Traveler’s many useful aspects in the making is to work with local music schools around the world, assisting them with an overflow in demand for practice rooms, and benefiting off of their surplus in the ebb and flow of their schedule.
Music Traveler offers automatic insurance, and enables music lovers to open their doors, and perhaps even Grandma’s grand piano which no one uses, to musicians.
Perhaps the only drawback of Music Traveler, is the need to keep it to the music – strictly speaking; there is no food consumption allowed in the practice spaces in order to guarantee the equipment is looked after properly.
But the business model fulfills a real need and can even bring a little musical life into your home; and serving lunch to the musicians in your kitchen, is probably always a welcomed addition.