Jammed is the online booking platform powering music studios and rehearsal rooms. Founded in 2019 by software engineer and musician Andy Callaghan after hearing from studio owners that the existing software didn’t fit their needs.
Andy realised that rehearsal and recording studios spend too much time manually managing room bookings and cancellations through email and over the phone. He wanted to create a solution to the problems felt by the studio owners he spoke to - time spent chasing people, confirming bookings and taking payments, so he built a software solution that took this work off their plate.
On the business
Jammed makes life easier for studio owners that struggle to keep up with telephone enquiries, and no-shows, and make full use of their space. We’re loved by the musicians and performers as well, hearing weekly how easy Jammed is to use and book through. By offering an online and in-person presence, Jammed allows studio customers to book 24/7.
On the customer, and how they reach them
Our customer is the music studio or rehearsal room themselves - we host and run the booking and scheduling platform for them. They list their spaces for rent, link up their payment details and then we can sell the space for them. Jammed is a SaaS product that’s sold as a subscription to studios around the world, now in 6 countries and growing.
We reach our customers through a mixture of online advertising, referrals, introductions and cold-approach emails.
On getting started with Square APIs
Square was selected early on as our first payment provider, and we worked with our first studios using Square payments.
We chose Square because our customers need a mix of in-person and online payments, which Square seemed at the time (and still now) to be the most complete solution. The setup and card fees for the UK are amongst the lowest in the market, and this has also helped traction with potential customers.
It was very easy to get started with Square - the sandbox environment for the online payment form allowed us to fully integrate and test our application before we went live. As Jammed is based and has customers in the UK, we integrate fully with SCA and 3D secure style payments - Square helpfully lists out test cards to trigger different possible errors, which helped massively in readying Jammed for our customers to use.
On the developer experience
As a developer, the docs are concise and go into enough detail. The examples are kept up to date and work well for how websites and web apps interact with Square as a payment provider, giving enough context and explanation about how and why things should be set up as they are (for example, with SCA)
Square APIs have come a long way since we first started the integration. One of the most useful resources from Square in terms of developer experience has been the level of support - the Slack channel that’s filled with helpful Square developers that always answer your question. I think my experience of developing our integration would have been considerably harder without this. We helped guide the Terminal API beta test and gave feedback on new additions to the API - something that we had requested.
In terms of how the APIs work, with Jammed, studios have the choice of which payment provider they want the interface with. If the studio owner chooses Square, then we follow the following process;
We use OAuth2 API first to link up Jammed with their new account.
For both of these scenarios, we listen for webhook responses from the Square API and act accordingly to the charges and payments being made on the booking.
We coded our own open source ruby gem for this, called ’square_event’ - it uses Ruby on Rails’s Active Notification to take incoming webhooks, authorise them, and then trigger a named routine on our servers depending on the webhook type.
Finally, we also have an in-person integration in Jammed using the Terminal API. This is set up separately from the online payments but is free to use for all Jammed subscribers. When the studio wants to take a Terminal payment, Jammed opens a web socket to a server listening out for the Terminal webhook notifications and then guides the user through taking a payment.
On their client’s response
The customers that use Square are always happy with it - and are always happy that the payout schedule to their bank account is very short - a key problem with traditional ePOS system providers. Our customers are also very happy that there are no ongoing payments to use Square, the Square Terminal or Jammed to use either of them - for them, it’s just one price that includes everything they need.
On what developers in the music industry look for in software
The main driving force here for software in the music industry is cost - and value for money. The industry as a whole has seen huge problems in terms of revenue, especially over COVID lockdowns where many of my customers couldn’t open their doors.
We love that, with Square, the payout schedule is so fast, with next-day transfers as standard - this really helps my customers manage their money and business better. In addition, the cost of handling payments through Square is one of the lowest on the market - and the APIs that connect Jammed with Square payments work well.
On the benefits of using Square
One of the main benefits of using Square is the in-person payment solutions. We trialled and got talking to ’traditional’ card payment providers that issue card readers as a yearly contract subscription - these are expensive, and once the contract is started are very hard to get out of. The APIs for these providers were also very old and badly documented.
Square is the opposite - the Square Terminal is a fixed cost with no subscription and no contract, so it’s ideal for my customers that have been bitten in the past. Our integration with Square Terminal has won us business that would otherwise have been lost.
With integrating the Square Terminal with Terminal API, we won a few large studios that were looking for a solution for in-person payments linked to online bookings. Our customers appreciated that they have a choice between providers when setting up, which gives them confidence that their money is safe.
On the music industry post-Covid
I think what I’m most excited about is the return to normal after covid - a lot of the musicians that use our platform are now finally getting back to playing their music, and doing what they do best on stage, and that to us is amazing. The studios we work with had a rough time during the lockdown, but the booking numbers are back to pre-pandemic levels, or even higher in some cases now.
On plans for the future
We’re constantly improving Jammed with new features, so hard to pick! We’re working on staff and freelance worker management module, so that musicians can find and book sound engineers, producers etc for their booking, a big feature that nearly all of our USA studios have been asking for. We’re also working to add better ways for musicians to pay for their booking - through regular Direct Debit payments so that the studio doesn’t have to handle regular payments from bands and groups that attend weekly.
Lastly, we’re working to be carbon-negative by the middle of 2023 - we already run on fully renewable powered data centres, and our staff all work remotely - and soon we’re launching a referral scheme where we plant 25 new trees for every new studio that’s referred to Jammed.