Now this is a story all about how a life got flipped turned upside down, and I'd like to take an hour just to sit right here and type out a story of how I became to the CEO of a company called UNDRGRND.
- INT. (Night) c.2008 It's an average summers evening - our protagonist is sat in a conservatory on a crappy Compaq laptop he got for christmas like, 5 years ago. It's hot enough to cook a sunday roast and probably about to die again. God I hated that laptop.
So our story begins here - I was about 19 years old, sat in my mums conservatory, doing college coursework for a Forensic Science BTEC. At the time, I was a guitarist for a band I had been in for a few months and was on the lookout for other members. Posting in the usual places; social networking sites, forums, a certain 'classifieds' site .. 'Accompany my Troupe'? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It was probably the umpteenth time I had posted and added random people in my area on social media looking for someone - anyone - to join my band. I was pretty sick of it and at the end of my tether. I couldn't find anyone and when I did, they turned out to be a waste of time, didn't travel, or tried to steal my drum kit (that's a story for later).
I'd had the idea of UNDRGRND (at that time known as 'The Underground Music Project. UGMPro for short) floating around for some time at this point, but it was in its infancy. Nowhere near what it is now. The original UNDRGRND was a Wix website, a gmail email account, and basically my plan was:
That lasted about as long as a snowball in summer. Got nothing. No hits, no interest, didn't even market it really. But that didn't stop me.
I whole heartedly believed that what was available at the time was pretty sucky and something needed to happen to make it easier for musicians to meet, colab, and make sure that who they're talking to isn't going to waste their time.
Fast forward to 2010, I've finished the BTEC. Planned on going to uni to study science further, but the whole recession hit and public sector jobs got cut by about 80% or something equally ridiculous. After a long, in depth, and productive chat with my mum, a long and in depth chat with my mum? An in depth - no. A meaningful and productive my mum yelled at me for a while, I decided to reapply to college and study music for UCAS points and decide what I was going to do while I did that.
That course really opened my eyes to what it was like to be a proper musician - and by proper musician, I mean doing it as a career choice. It's hard. It's really hard. The auditions day was nerve-wracking and I had a guy who slayed his guitar play before me, and I ballsed up what I was trying to play. But this made me even more determined to prove to the tutors that I am good and will smash that course. And I did. I got a distinction and two merits.
But I digress. I was surrounded by other musicians on a daily basis, most of whom were also into the same type of music as me, and making bands and recording ideas was so easy, my SoundCloud was pretty full with demos in no time. But it was when I left that 1 year course, I was back to square one, and this time I had a new perspective: What I learned on that course, I would not have thought to look into myself unless someone had told me to do it. It probably wasn't until about 2013 that UNDRGRND really started to take shape of what it is now. It was around this time that a (now defunct) company started a monthly "music networking event" that was really a marketing ploy for their .. whatever it was they were selling. I can't remember.
But it was at one of these events that I spoke to a guy who at first I assumed was another musician. But he wasn't. He was a photographer.
"What brings you to this event?" I asked. He told me that he's looking for the opportunities to photograph bands and earn some extra cash. I wish I could remember this guys name and thank him, because that's when it hit me what UNDRGRND should be.
Not just a music networking site connecting musicians, but a fully feldged music network. For bands, for artists, for venues, for sales reps, for professionals, amateurs, beginners, experts, .. even photographers.
I started putting together a business plan, and started building UNDRGRND around 2015 in my spare time (I was employed as a digital designer at this point with plans on becoming a full stack developer. Short version: can't work in biomedicine because of health, and IT was my next favourite thing I could secure a career in).
2017 I took redundancy from that job and spent the next few months focusing on building what would become UNDRGRND v1 while looking for another job.
By the end of 2018/early 2019 UNDRGRND was ready to go, was incorporated on 14 May 2019 in the UK, and released in October 2019.