In the very same summer that I had a musician not show up to a gig, I made a nearly-fatal error that could have cost my string quartet its reputation. I lost a bride’s playlist the week before her wedding.

It was pretty early on in my string quartet’s history. We didn’t quite have our act together as far as organizing setlists. For us to complete a playlist for a wedding, I would have a series of back-and-forth email conversations with the couple.

They would give me ideas of what they wanted, and I would add them to the list. I then sent them back the list, and they gave me some feedback. If they wanted to make changes, they would then send me an email with their requests.

This back-and-forth game would happen for weeks (sometimes months!), but we would always finalize the playlist two weeks before the wedding so I could send it to the rest of the musicians.

This system was working for a while, but then something really bad happened: I lost a bride’s setlist the week before I was supposed to play her wedding. I’m not sure what happened, but the email thread with the finalized setlist had disappeared from my inbox. It was gone.

I started panicking, and I didn’t want to show the couple that I was disorganized, so I tried everything!

I was able to find bits and pieces of their requests and alterations. I couldn’t spend time practicing that week because I had to reconstruct the entire setlist from tens of these emails.

I was pretty frustrated with this whole experience (and pretty embarrassed with my organizational skills).

That’s when I realized that the app I had started creating also needed to help me organize setlists. So I locked myself in the apartment and spent hours creating a portal for my quartet.

In this portal, I was able to add all the tunes in our gigbooks to a digital library (including page numbers for each part), and upload any PDFs we had.

I was also able to view an individual performance. Within that particular view, I was able to add our group’s songs to the performance in a particular order, and also indicate if there was anything special attached to that song (e.g. the Bridal Procession).

This served as my “source of truth” for the group’s setlists. Any time a couple emailed me to update their playlist, I would go into my portal and make adjustments there. Come performance time, the portal automatically emailed the setlist to each musician on the gig, saving me that time too.

But that wasn’t enough. I had already come this far in creating a portal for myself. Was entering the playlist something that I alone needed to do? What if I let the couples themselves make modifications to the playlists? It would save me time, and it would let clients plan their music at any hour of the day or night.

So I built a client-facing portal that let clients do the same setlist planning that I already could do. They could choose from our library, and drag-and-drop songs to craft the perfect playlist.


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Once we did this, we actually got some major press. Some of Milwaukee’s major newspapers heard about what we were doing, and published articles featuring this new portal!

Since then, Dream City Music’s clients (and musicians) have been enjoying a stress-free music planning experience. But I know that other musicians go through this very same process, so that’s why we’re excited to bring this same functionality to the BookLive platform!