We put songs that we feel strongly about in, essentially, a better position to be heard.
Nowadays artists have a sea of options to share their music, including services like Bandcamp and the ever-popular behest that is Soundcloud. Users can upload their songs to a profile, and freely share it across all of their networks with an easy-to-use responsive player; but, not without restrictions. For users to access profile options, and sufficient space to upload a full catalogue, they have to pay.
Let’s face it, being an indie artist isn’t easy or cheap. There’s the cost of production, studios, mixing, mastering, marketing and so on. That’s where one streaming service is stepping in and giving artists a free, attractive option to host their releases. Audiomack, the co-creation of David Ponte and DJBooth.net CEO David Macli, is quickly becoming the go-to choice for industry elite and indie upstarts alike.
The site gained major juice on the record-breaking front as of late, in fact, they broke Fetty-Wap’s infectious Trap Queen. Last week, I had the opportunity to chat with David Ponte, who shared some insight on the service’s origins, and its plans for the future.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, David!
No problem! I am waiting for the internet guy to get our new office connected.
Where is your new office?
New York City (still), in Soho – it’s a new office with a studio. We have rappers and producers coming in regularly, and now we’ll have the studio set up for those impromptu business meetings that turn into studio sessions.
Very cool – so Audiomack becomes something bigger!
Exactly, an opportunity work directly with artists on their actual music, then help to proliferate their work online and spread the music to the masses. That’s something in motion now.
Is that something that you guys had in mind from the get-go or is that something that just happened organically?
I should mention that my partner is David Macli, CEO of DJBooth.net. We’re different companies, but there is obviously a lot of synergy between us. DJ Booth is a hub of music premiers and editorial writing, while we’re more of a utility for sharing music; but, as a result of our clear collaboration, we deal directly with artists all the time. The emphasis for moving was first and foremost space, as we’re growing, but finding an office with a studio was a factor when we were looking.
We’re pretty lucky we’re in a space that used to be a home base for producers like Emile (Kid Cudi) and Johnny Brooklyn (Rick Ross), amongst others. A lot of well-known producers were here and created a lot of big-time songs, so we hope to continue that trend in addition to getting work done.
What’s your background?
My work background is in software technology, sales and marketing. That’s where I met all my partners. I continued to do that until the last week of December 2014 – and that’s when I transferred to Audiomack full-time.
Was Audiomack conceived to compliment DJ Booth?
No, it wasn’t meant to compliment DJ Booth – it was meant to fill a gap in the (hip-hop) on-line music distribution marketplace. Before Audiomack, even before Soundcloud started to get a lot of traction, a lot of artists would use unprofessional file sharing sites to release music, and give away their promotional music and mixtapes. These sites were shady, loaded with irrelevant ads, and generally, were not a great way to present themselves. It was like spending three hours cooking a gourmet meal and then putting it on a paper plate to serve it. So we wanted to make China dinnerware to serve hip-hop on.
I notice the focus and roots of the service are mainly hip-hop, which is interesting – SoundCloud is more dance.
When you’re starting out in web properties you need to have a niche market – start small by getting your audience to buy the product and then broaden the field. I listen to hip-hop, rap, and R&B ninety percent of the time, so it’s more natural for me to gravitate towards it; although, I’m becoming more interested in other mediums of music.
With other services charging artists money to gain access to features, such as extra downloads, how have you been able to remain free?
We’ve been able to monetize very effectively with appropriate advertising. We felt it would be better to make money that way, rather than to charge for subscription or a premium service. Subsequently, it’s helped drive our traffic.
What have been some of your biggest tracks on Audiomack to date?
We put songs that we feel strong about in, fundamentally, a better position to be heard. Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen, for example, which they’re saying will be the song of the summer, broke on our site last summer. Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea’s Booty remix was a huge record. We’ve had some great songs break on our service thus far.
Do you guys censor artists? Do you ever receive complaints?
We don’t censor artists unless something is ultra malicious, and really, really, offending our users. There was one time I remember, where the Atlanta Police Department hit us up about a project that a user had posted. It turned out that the artist behind the tape, which was climbing the charts, was wanted for murder. They were trying to find information on him. We didn’t have any clues to who this guy was and if the tape was his. I hope that he got a fair trial and they got the answers they were looking for [laughs].
What is your take on the new streaming service that Jay-Z has come up with?
I don’t think they’re honest with the music community. As far as we know, most of the artists involved (in Tidal) have 360 deals with the biggest labels in the world – such as Universal, Warner, Sony and all the subsidiary labels. They say it’s for the people, but that’s B.S. It’s a marketing strategy they are using to get consumers to buy in. The labels will be involved in the streaming and get paid. What’s different is the artists get to be a part of the title, which will increase the value and equity of the company. They’re not transparent enough, but they don’t have to. However, the market is slowing, and not many people twenty-one and under will have the $20 per month (or $240 for the year), when they know that music can be accessed somewhere else for free.
From what I understand of the service, it has a lot of neat features – so a lot of people will enjoy it. It’s just that the way it was presented to the market was flawed.
Do you see Audiomack as the go-to over other competitors?
We hope so! I think we have a lot of upcoming products and enhancements, in addition to our Audiomack premium products we have right now, that are – and will be – addressing the concerns of both artists and fans. Listeners want to stream music for free. Artists want to give music to as many fans as possible and make money to support their art. Our stakeholders are crucial to Audiomack. We want to increase the audience and the amount of artists that use the site – and we’re confident we can. We’re providing a good product!