Does a new neobank for musicians herald a micro-niche trend?

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A new fintech bank hopes to strike a chord with active musicians.

In many ways, musicians are the original ‘gig workers’, with an erratic income stream rising and falling depending on the number of shows booked this month and the number of albums sold. As such, musicians have very different financial needs than people with regular salaries who are deposited directly every two weeks.

Enter Nerve, a new neobank that aims to meet the unique needs of professional musicians. The app is available in English and Spanish and has user-friendly features, including FDIC-insured corporate debit and savings accounts; integrations with the artist’s streaming and social subscriber data; a private networking feature to help professional musicians find each other, make payments and collaborate; instant free payments to anyone with a Nerve account; and access to 55,000 free ATMs, which the company considers “perfect for the traveling musician”.

The banking products and services behind the app are offered by Piermont Bank, a digital commercial bank founded in 2019 and based in New York City. Nerve was scheduled to officially launch in the United States on September 15, 2021.

Not perfect :

Nerve offers specific services for musicians, such as the ability to collaborate with other artists and a way to follow what they are doing from various digital distribution platforms.

Nerve is the creation of two fintech veterans. CEO John Waupsh previously served as Chief Innovation Officer at banking technology and marketing firm Kasasa for more than a decade. Ben Morrison, who is the company’s technical director, continues to work for Kasasa, where he is product manager for consumer applications. Waupsh is also the founder and CEO of Preservation Project, a boutique label dedicated to the release of rare funk and soul recordings. Nerve is therefore a combination of two passions for Waupsh.

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Manage your money and find a drummer

The idea of ​​a start-up bank for musicians arose out of Waupsh’s interactions with them; he had previously launched the idea of ​​launching a streaming service – which is currently in beta – called Nerve FM. This particular service is said to be subscription-based and akin to Patreon, and designed to help musicians make more money from their music than they do with today’s major streaming services such as Spotify. While chatting with various pianists and ax throwers (guitarists) from the Nerve FM platform, Waupsh also heard a common question: “Can you build me a bank?” “

“There is a real need for a bank that meets the specific financial needs of active musicians,” he notes.

He adds that since many musicians are paid at irregular intervals and for varying amounts, most simply deposit the money they earn into a personal account. If they try to go to a traditional bank for a business account, often, “the bank then asks for their last two years of tax returns, articles of incorporation, various documents, and they end up giving up and leaving and continuing to do so. use their personal account, ”says Waupsh.

Nerve aims to make the process easy, with a fully digital registration that can be completed in minutes. It also helps musicians complete the appropriate tax forms and documents and other aspects of running their business, such as instructions on how to classify the purchase of a guitar as a business expense for business purposes. tax. The account also comes with a Nerve branded card.

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In the app, musicians can also link to their profiles on streaming services to get a dashboard of how much money they are making from all the different streaming service providers and transfer all that money to the account. Nerve.

There is also a social and collaborative aspect: for example, musicians can connect with other musicians who also have a Nerve account and be alerted if they both play a show in the same city on a given evening. Groups can also use the app for networking purposes, such as finding a replacement drummer for a one night only show.


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Community banking for the modern era

For Waupsh, the idea behind Nerve actually comes from an earlier age of banking and takes banking back to its roots.

“The bank started out, at least in this country, as a way to meet the needs of the community,” he says. “If you were a bank in a farming community, you knew the ins and outs of taking out a loan for a new elevator. You were essentially an agricultural bank.

What this means:

Nerve is part of a growing trend in fintech to serve a specific niche.

And musicians are a community traditionally underserved by financial services. Tunecore, a music distribution and publishing company, has a lending arm called Lyric Financial which allows musicians to make advances on future royalties earned. But Nerve aims to be the first fully-fledged bank entirely dedicated to serving musicians and their financial needs.

Waupsh believes that much of the future of fintech is in serving these niche and community needs.

“The neobanks that have sprung up over the past decade or so have primarily focused on serving general customers,” he says. “But a lot of the neobanks that you see popping up today are really community driven and serve a specific community. It’s like going back to the original roots of the bank.

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