Drop The MIC: Music Industry Conversations

Revolutionizing the Relationship Between Artist and Audience

April 13, 2021 Season 2 Episode 4
Drop The MIC: Music Industry Conversations
Revolutionizing the Relationship Between Artist and Audience
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, game-changers Roneil Rumburg (Co-Founder and CEO of Audius), Elomida Visviki (Co-Founder and CEO of Weav Music), and Matt Block (Head of Production at Splice and Co-Founder of La Reserve) discuss the new paths they’ve created for artists to interact with fans. From creating equitable platforms for bedroom producers to inventing new technology, they’re redefining the nature of artist and audience.

Jay:

Welcome to the Drop the Mic podcast where we'll dive into conversations with some of the music industry's most established professionals Like all of our episodes, what you will hear today has been created and curated by Stanford students who are breaking their way into the music scene. I'm Jay LeBouef and I lead Stanford University's music industry initiatives. Whether you're aspiring to launch your career in the music industry are already a music industry pro, or just curious to learn more. We've got you covered.

Jeff Zhang:

Hello, and welcome to Drop the Mic, Stanford's Music Industry Podcast. We're:

Alisa Wang:

Alisa Wang a sophomore at Stanford.

Ayanna Minnihan:

Ayanna Minnihan, a freshman at Stanford.

Riddhi Singh:

Riddhi Singh, a freshman at Stanford.

Jeff Zhang:

And Jeff Zhang a first year MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. This episode is all about entrepreneurship and music. In the next half an hour, we're going to showcase some companies that are on the cutting edge of innovation in the music and music tech space, changing the way that both artists and listeners interact with the music around them. We're diving into three domains: startups that focus on the audience, startups that focus on the artist, and startups that thread the middle ground.

Ayanna Minnihan:

Alright, let's meet our interviewees!

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

Hey, how's it going? I'm, Roneil Rumburg I'm co-founder and CEO of Audius which is a digital streaming service that connects fans directly with artists and exclusive new music.

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

How are you doing? My name is Matt block. And, Splice sounds, it's the largest royalty free sample subscription-based service in the world.

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

Hi, I'm Elomida Visviki, CEO and co-founder of Weav music. Weav music is a music tech startup that aspires to change the way we experience a recorded piece of music.

Alisa Wang:

awesome, thanks everyone! Let's start everything off with a speed round of a few quick and fun questions. Here we go. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to the most? Who are some of your favorite musical artists?

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

Oh man. That's such a tough question. Yeah there were two albums that stick out it's Lincoln Park's hybrid theory from like the early two thousands. And Blink 182, enema of the state from 97, 98.

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

I mean, we came to Greece about three weeks ago and there's this young girl. Her name is [unclear] She's my absolute new favorite. I listened to her songs all the time and it's so cool. It's such a melodic, beautiful voice.

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

um, my favorite artists right now I don't really know if I have a favorite artist. That's such a hard, it's a hard question, but, what I've been listening to lately that's like, you know, not music that we're, I'm working on with the label. I mean, it's been out for a minute now, but the new Cali UGC record is, uh, is pretty awesome and she's having some crazy spike on that track [unclear] and so I think I've been like, just seeing that, and I've been diving back into that record and like with a whole new lens and I've been like really on that tip this week, like listening to that record a bunch.

Riddhi Singh:

if you had the option of choosing any career in music besides entrepreneurship, what career would it be?

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

I believe I would be a good manager. I have a passion about promoting artists. I mean, there are people who basically burst because they need to give. So facilitating this, in my opinion, it's divine. It's a God.

Alisa Wang:

How do you recenter or ground yourself?

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

I really enjoy spending time outdoors and going on a hike or going skiing

Alisa Wang:

Hi Roneil, thank you so much for being here! We're super excited to learn about your story behind how you started Audius.

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

Thank you for having me.

Ayanna Minnihan:

Yeah, thank you so much. So can we start with a little background on you and Audius?

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

Yeah for sure. So I'm Roneil I'm one of the co-founders of Audius and my co-founder Forrest and I came to start the project basically as a result of seeing a lot of our favorite creators getting kicked off of SoundCloud, for the most part, and that was back in 2015 or so. We were actually both students at Stanford at that time. And we used to, this was back before, like Uber was as accessible and whatnot. We would take the Caltrain up to SF on the weekends, go out to electronic shows, and anyway yeah. So like we just started to see a lot of our favorite creators getting kicked off of SoundCloud and not really understanding why that was happening to them. So we started to ask ourselves what if there was a way for artists and fans themselves to effectively self operate and own a streaming service of their own, almost operating a co-op rate. And at the time we looked into, it felt that the tech didn't exist to do that. So he and I went off and did different things. So I'm more a software engineer by background. I worked in tech from that angle for a while, during school and then soon after school. And then found my way over to uh a venture firm called Kleiner Perkins and spent a couple of years there. So me and a few others started a seed practice there and I was covering crypto from the investment side. So continue to stay close to this like decentralized tech stuff. But I kind of wanted to get back to building stuff, ended up leaving there in like mid 2017 or so. And Forrest, my now co-founder, ended up leaving. He started a company straight after school that was acquired. And he ended up leaving the acquirer around that time. So yeah, we just started hacking on stuff and we were like, oh, I wonder if that Audius thing could work well, it wasn't called that actually at that time we didn't have a name, but we were like I wonder if we could make that work. So we put together a little prototype and convinced ourselves that this was technically possible. And then ended up heading off.

Alisa Wang:

That's an amazing story! So, for the viewers, how would you describe Audius and what it does?

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

So uh yeah, Audius is a digital streaming service that connects fans directly with artists and exclusive music. But that direct bit I think is what differentiates us. So there's this fully decentralized network of artists, fans and node operators that have organized to operate this network that's all built atop open source software that our team and other teams have published. And yet today, so the product launched in late 2019, today we see about 2.6 million or so people listening to stuff on Audius every month. And I think about a hundred thousand artists have uploaded stuff so far. So still early days, there's a lot more work to do, but we've been excited about what's happened so far.

Riddhi Singh:

Wow those are impressive numbers! So earlier you talked about how by combining tech and music distribution you're able to democratize the decision-making process so I was curious about the inspiration behind this specific focus.

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

Totally. The Audius platform kind of, you can think of it like a right to make decisions about how, Audius works and a right to operate a business or a service within this ecosystem. So, these tokens effectively can be what's called staked or locked in the system to operate a node or to provide other services to the broader network that can earn you revenue in exchange. But you can also earn those tokens by contributing content, by curating content, by engaging on Audius. And the goal with that effectively was to get back to that like vision I laid out around this user owned and operated streaming network. We wanted ownership of and control of these tools effectively to be as broadly distributed in the community as possible. Again, no one individual or one company should ever be in a position to like make decisions we felt about things like how does monetization work? Because if there's one company that has a profit motive in the center making those choices, you end up with things like Spotify taking advantage of artists wanting to get exposure. Right? Which is just really sickening, right, or at least it is to me. But yeah, I think that's really where we didn't see a way to distribute control and ownership of this effectively public utility or common good that we were trying to make without something like a cryptographic token. So there's actually this governance system that lives on chain where like users of that token can vote on what features to add, what code changes to make. So any change to this system, as it exists today, actually has to be approved by the users of the system as a result of that token dynamic. And yeah, really the thinking there was there's this shared collective incentive now to make Audius as useful and functional as possible. Because all of the users of Audius would get to benefit uh, you know, if Audius becomes very large and, you know, actually meaningfully challenges folks like SoundCloud and others. All of the users of Audius would benefit from that in a way that no other platform ever cut their users into the actual flow of capital within the system or anything else. So that's the thing that we were really excited about here. We even, when we pitch in investors on working with us at Audius in the early days and whatnot, we were always like this is not a business, right. If you're looking for us to make money, our company actually is not capable of taxing this system or like grabbing a profit. We would actually, if Audius the company wanted to make money from Audius the network, we would have to actually ask the community put a fee in place that goes to us. And maybe they would say yes, but maybe they would say, no, I think they should say no. Right? That would be the right thing to do. But I think that's what allowed us to be very, approach this problem I think from a very different direction, which is that it's not like there's no profit motive within this system. There is if people can look at how that token operates and is designed and form their own conclusions about it. I think what's different here though is that there's an opportunity for anyone who wants to contribute value to Audius to earn their way into an ownership position within the system. And then you actually, effectively, like the more reliant you are upon Audius to generate income for you or whatever else, the more voting power and the more control you, you get to aggregate within the system over time in return for that so to vote on features and all those things.

Ayanna Minnihan:

Wow. That is amazing. And I want to ask with that. I know that it's still, probably very young, but are there people that you do communicate with all the time, or certain aspects of the community. Have you seen people start to bloom and really tangible ways or anything that you've really just been amazed has already happened so far?

Roneil Rumburg (Audius):

Yeah, totally. So we've just been really humbled and blown away by like how the community has responded to this. So I mentioned we've seen I think at this point over a hundred thousand artists upload to Audius so far. There are these kind of Discord communities around Audius that have sort of self-organized and started to evolve that I think there were like over 10,000 people there now just sharing each other's music and hanging out and I think that very inclusive, welcoming community vibe that, I don't think we like intentionally did this, in that those early phases of growing the artists community. But I think naturally the types of artists that were responding to, that, just us being like, hey, we're just trying to build cool stuff, whatever created this cultural dynamic around the Audius community. That is just one that's very welcoming and friendly and that people feel very comfortable and even like learning about things like how crypto works or how these platform tokens work or whatever, it's there, there are no dumb questions there, right? I think just the way that these communities self-organized in a way that is not really, you know, I guess, and this is one of the really coolest aspects of getting to do what we do every day. It's just so much bigger than the little team that built the first version of it. We're like 14 people. And when they're seeing giant communities that have started to evolve and emerge around this a lot of what we do is, you know, almost chasing and catching up to what's already happening around this thing. It's like this thing has grown so far beyond what any one of us is capable of staying on top of, right. We just have no idea what's happening broadly in these small corners of the internet and, whatnot. And I think there are some folks that have really emerged in our community as being, just really wanting to like step up and help do the work of making this, you know, something that's useful, broadly useful for everyone. Some of those folks are like, I text with them on a weekly-ish basis. Just being like, Hey if we like built this thing, what would you think of it? Do you think that would be useful for the community? Is that something that you would vote yes on in governance, for example? You know? And I think what we're going to start to see emerge in these crypto, these decentralized crypto communities is almost the role of the initial team that builds the initial version almost evolves into kind of a political role. You want to do your best to sort of represent broadly the interests of the community, but the only way to do that is by getting out and talking to folks and understanding it. But we're never going to be perfect at that. Right. Like, it's just not, we can't talk to a hundred thousand artists nor can we talk to like 2.6 million users or listeners. Right. We try and do our best to represent them, with at least the choices of what things do we build or things like that. But ultimately like, they directly get to vote on whether those things that we built actually like become part of the system or not, which is also cool. Um, early on we always like talked about these things happening and sketched out that roadmap, but like actually seeing it kind of happening before our eyes. I don't know, like it, I guess it's sorta like you, you don't necessarily like fully internalize your own rhetoric until you actually see it just happen in front of you. And it's just really cool. Again, a very humbling experience. I know I keep using that word, but it's, I don't know how else to describe it. It's just this thing has taken on a life of its own. That's, you know, like I'm fully confident right now that if Audius, the company shut down, like if all of us stopped working on this, this would keep going, virtually forever. Right? Cause there's nothing, there's nothing that we do right now that is like necessary to operate this network. And, you know, through these like decentralized technologies, you can create public goods that actually have the ability to like capture value on behalf of the operators of of those public goods, where the operators are the broad community that exists around around Audius, which is, which has been really cool.

Alisa Wang:

Wow. It's amazing to hear about how much Audius has grown. Thank you so much for such insightful responses.

Riddhi Singh:

Hi, Elomida. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

I'm very happy to be talking to you and thank you for inviting me.

Riddhi Singh:

Of course. Yeah. So to start, what was your path into the music industry like?

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

I mean, very often I hear people that they're quite frank and say, dude I, bummed it to that it just happened to me, which of course no, it wasn't like that for me. I very shortly. I started my career in finance, actually I worked for a bank. I was a credit analyst. I did that four, five, six years. And at the same time I was at the university and I was doing a little bit of economics and literature. So, I got this scholarship for[unclear] and I went there it just hit me that. That's not what I want to do. I had this idea about music, actually following the beat. And we said, you know what, maybe we try to do that. And this is how it all started. And it was fun because the original product feat was about lovers. It wasn't about running or anything else. So I would use the music as a means of communication and he would have to adapt or the other way around. And that was the first product feed.

Riddhi Singh:

Thanks for providing that background. It's always interesting to hear how everyone's story leads them to where they are now. So as for jumping into the music industry specifically were there any aspects you had to be particularly mindful or cautious of?

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

It is a crazy process. Everyone cautioned us music is super difficult. Don't get in there. The licensing is crazy. It wasn't, a decision that we took spare of the moment we looked into that very carefully and we knew, straight ahead for the problems would be, we interviewed other co-founders that dealt with the problems and they failed. Actually pretty much the roadmap of the core technology back in the day was built having in mind these problems.

Alisa Wang:

That is so interesting to hear about. So, we were wondering, how have new social media platforms or technologies, such as Tik Tok, affected the way in which Weav is being used?

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

So the mission is to to see recorded music in a new way so there's a means of the music to reach the ears of the fans and the listeners. Uh, originally the music was enjoyed when someone was likely performing it for you or. Yourself, you would sing or play an instrument, but at some point it scaled up. But when the artist is there and performs their song, they can make artistic decisions to better align the song with the moment so. We felt that is totally lost. Your always comes to your ears the same way. So what about the possibility, all these different forms to coexist in a song and then how to make it behave as if it was lively performed. And that is a tool initially for the artist, the artist can give more information, more language, more material into their songs. And me as a consumer, I can explore it. I can do more. I can get The unplugged version, probably when I'm chilling out and meditating but when I go out and play games or dance with my daughters or do this or the other, I get other versions, but all the exploration. Is a result of an artistic choice that was pre decided.

Ayanna Minnihan:

Oh that's so interesting! So in the most simplistic terms, for someone who has no idea regarding this technology, how does the movement responsive technology work?

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

I there, there are different parts of the technology, the core technology does the following. Let's say that you have a song and a few different variations of the song. And then our software calculates, uh, all the in-between versions. Let's, assume that what I want is to change the tempo. And I would like. The change, the energy, the, an orchestration, the arrangement of a song, and then create all the variations between those different, uh, three different versions for four different versions I create. And then the software decides to do that for you. So creates all of the, between. Steps so that when you're listening to the song, it feels natural. The change comes in a more liquid form in your ears and it's not abrupt. So the seamless part is because our software calculates all these. Then we have a way of playing it back. Now augumented song open. If we use this word and then responding with the right remix on the fly, depending on what you do. So now we created a bunch more Algorithms that read your body movement, your speed, your breathing. We can, make different triggers depending on what's the occasion. And then we understand the change and we aligned the beat of the song with your feet. That creates a very interesting effect that creates the feeling of synchronization. Then what's the most clever way of playing back the music to better serve the occasion and the work you're doing, and also the time you're listening. Here's another, example we started now looking. Inc to think called adaptive voice as well. So we launched about, um, six months ago and new technology that takes the voice of, uh, of the present. And adopted as well. Let me give you an example of guided workouts in running a quite popular. So you have someone in your ear and they're telling you what to do, The problem is that normally the music and the voice are baked together, which means that all the commands and all those structure, the regime of the workout is pretty much it doesn't is not aligned with your actual performance is pretty much at perceived a Fort like run faster lumber. So stuff like that, which is, it destroys the feeling of doing it. So we created a new. Part of our tech now takes the voice of coach.

Riddhi Singh:

Yeah. There's so many uses for this technology. And actually this conversation reminds me of how platforms such as Spotify or Apple music. They create and curate playlists that are a specific, for heart rate based workouts.

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

Listen, the technology is there and tech solutions are fantastic what is the most difficult thing is the licensing of the music, which of course ,It's a hurdle or a very real one because artists need to get paid. So publishing is there and all of that royalties should be given back, but to get through it is a very difficult thing. So this is what holds back most of the innovation rather than anything else, but I think we're in a good space. We did try the first year and a half, maybe two, we said, okay, let's commission songs. Let's not at all have to deal with labels. Publishing rights and all these complicated systems. So we said that actually and then people they would like, that's very cool. I like the fact that the music changes, but I don't want to listen to this, the music I like it's like that was a very difficult moment actually. ,because I had to persuade team that we need to go into real music as I called it. And they said, but that's real too. And I said, listen, people love their songs. You can't just ignore this fact because you've created the technology that makes music playback. Yes, it's fine. If it's the background of the video, but it's not the same. And the problem with music today is that it's so much. So the real fans, if they want to have an, a live experience of what is going on, they have to go into a concert. This is where they see their artists. This is where they connect with them.

Riddhi Singh:

I completely agree. And I feel as though every time you listen to a song, Yes you are listening to the lyrics but the artists themselves singing the song is what adds to that feeling

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

You know, this is all about music. This communal feeling of, the concert is one thing. But the relationship with the artist, the artist has a tone. It has a style, it has something to say. They have so much to give and we receive them and you need that. You need that to get through. You need that. So actually we started with fitness for this exact reason.

Riddhi Singh:

Wow yeah that's a great way of articulating what music is able to create and on that note thank you for this opportunity this conversation was very enlightening and i'm sure all listeners will appreciate all the wisdom you have provided

Elomida Visviki (Weav):

you're such a great person to talk to. I wish you the best. I wish you a beautiful time.

Ayanna Minnihan:

Hey, Matt. Thanks again for coming to talk with us. So how about we start off with some background on who you are?

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

So, yeah, my name is Matt Block. I'm from Philadelphia originally. I'm actually down in Pennsylvania right now. I've been living down here with my girlfriend. Um, we're, we're usually based in New York, but I'm just living down here with family and, um, I grew up playing trumpet. And, uh, my grandfather Mort Block is a musician, a trumpet player, and that's kind of who got me into music. So I grew up playing jazz, playing black American music, from age like 10. Like I was kind of like a bebop kid and like really was into Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie. And like, I really wanted to play bebop for like my entire life, move to New York and do that whole thing. And I moved to New York, like right after graduation to pursue that. And where it kind of led me has been kind of as a whole different path. Cause I worked, um, for about like four or five months as an assistant at a studio called Antfood. That's run by Wilson Brown. Really amazing music house. And, um, I did really incredible creative work, but I just, I, when it came to have a conversation around coming on full time and doing that whole thing, it just, the economics didn't make a ton of sense to me. And, um, I also realized in that time, I just maybe didn't want to be producing with the time pressure every day and creating with a time pressure, which is something I just don't think I enjoyed that much. And so I started to really like actually do research and read about the music industry and learn what was out there. And, um, in that, in, talking with tons of different friends and friends of friends and like random people. I met a company called Flavorlab that's an audio post facility in New York and they were looking to grow a catalog. They were founded by two incredible composers, Eric Blicker and Glenn Schloss, and they had another partner, Brian Quill, who was running their audio posts, and they wanted to have, um, someone help them out and just building out a production music catalog. And so they took a big, big risk on me and chance on me and give me my first shot. I convinced them to hire me and not hire me as an intern. They wanted to have me be an intern. I was like, nah, I can't do that for you. So I made a very, very, very little amount of money to start out. And then in three months, after this trial period was done and I had gotten a lot of the work together for the catalog, the rest was history. And, um, you know, they were really amazing, like early mentors because they let me just be me and do my thing and, fail and succeed. And we're like there and taught me a lot. But I was able to learn the publishing world, the sync world, the world of admin publishing and working with ASCAP and BMI and C-SAT collecting royalties internationally. I was able to, to learn a lot, because it was just kind of like me and two people who are really hands off and let me do my thing. And so, you know, throughout that time, I, grew the catalog. I signed probably over 200 different writers and producers to make music for sync mainly like shows on Viacom and CBS and, um, some different production companies. And you know, I think I started to learn, grow, and have other interests. And a lot of my friends from Philly started to kick off careers in New York as jazz musicians and start to pop off. And so that's kinda how the, the record label started because at that same time, my brother moved to the city, he's younger than I am. And, um, my other friend, Greg, is older than me, was having success as like anR&B artist on his projects called Yellow Shoots. And so we were kind of hanging out one day and we're like, yeah, we should make a record label and just protect our friends, like help grow our friends. You know, flash forward to today, like I, I head up the production there and we can talk more about that later on, but that's kind of what I'm doing. I work at splice during the day and hustle really hard. And then at night and weekends, I'm working on La Reserve and growing the label. So yeah,

Jeff Zhang:

awesome. Thank you so much, Matt. That's a, it's so interesting. Thanks for sharing your arc. I was wondering if you could share a little bit more about specifically, you know, what that role entails, what you do, um, who you interact with, et cetera.

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

Yeah. So, splice is a lot of things and splice sounds, which is probably what a lot of people are familiar with is the largest royalty free sample subscription-based service in the world. And, it was started by licensing, incredible sample packs and unpacking the sample pack and, um, really revolutionizing it, that industry, um, for, for the masses and democratizing music production. And, uh, so when I came on board in 2018, that was when splice started to want to develop its own sample labels. Like in a sample label is basically it's a company that makes sample packs. So, I don't know how, like, How familiar you are with a splice in an ecosystem, but there's some amazing sample labels out there, like sample magic and Capson pro audio, soul surplus origin sound. Um, and those labels are all owned by splice now. And so I started at Splice when that process of acquiring a bunch of amazing teams and catalog store began. And so with those teams, we started to also develop our own processes to empower like at scale, a lot of creators, people who maybe haven't considered making samples as a career option. And, you know, for example, like. My, friend who is a great piano player and organist down in Miami and working like the touring scene and, you know, working as an artist down there who also knows how to record himself, like teaching him, what it means to make a sample pack, um, end to end and helping to empower him to make money on like that little part of the supply chain in music production. So the first Year and a half or so of being in splice was like really working with the experts from the labels that had joined splice as full-time employees and creating a system for that and creating an operations and a process to really just spin a ton of labels around different genres and styles to just empower all different types of creators. And we're still doing that. We're still looking to develop new pockets of places where we can tap into musicians who haven't maybe made samples yet. And then also putting to work, like lots of people who are making sample packs and are veterans of the industry and have been doing that as well and just providing them more revenue opportunities. So, I think that's one part. And as splice has developed, we're working on some other things as well that are in the production realm. So in a nutshell, we're making the highest quality, products and paying artists and creators really well to do that.

Alisa Wang:

That's amazing. Thanks for sharing. It's great to hear how splice the streamlining of the music creation process for many artists. What inspires you the most about Splice's mission?

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

Splice like our mission is to really put, to enable as many people as possible to make music. And we really believe that a third of the world tries to make music. And so we want to help provide those resources and those tools to make that journey easily and, um to help creators along that journey. So, yeah, it is kind of like a two-sided marketplace in a sense. So it's musicians making music for musicians. I think like some of the coolest stories I hear on splice are the stories of the connections that get made outside of splice. Like for example, like there's a producer who made a guitar pack on, on splice and, you know, it did really well. And once that guitar pack got released there were other artists around the world who found his sounds. And I think that the beautiful thing about splice is every time that a creator makes a pack and it gets released on splice, it's like I'm in the room with you and you have those sounds. And I think that those types of connections, have led to major publishing deals for artists and have led to artists to blow up and other areas because of just like how. Intimate it is to get those sounds and to really feel like, Oh cool. Like I have Matt blocks, like trumpet in the studio with me, even though you don't, I'm not there. But I think that the relationships that get formed and the business relationships they get built, because splices and existence is one of the most beautiful things. We have a lot of bedroom producers We also have a ton of top 40 producers and a ton of people who are making music for all the independent labels and they, it's kind of a wide range of who is using splice. And so I'm at all different levels of their other musical journey. So I think that's the coolest thing to me.

Ayanna Minnihan:

Wow. That is so cool. I'd like to move on to La Reserve next. My question is what's it been like starting a label and what do you think your sort of unique perspective is slash you know what are you doing differently versus other labels that might be out there?

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

Yeah. that's a great, it's a great question. And like, you know, It's been definitely a very bumpy journey, like owning a label. For us, we started out. Um, I worked in sync licensing and my brother works at the orchard in sync. And so, we were like, Oh cool. We've got a lot of publishing knowledge, a lot of sync knowledge. And we got all these like friends in Philly who produced for all the biggest, like pop R and B hip hop artists. Let's make a sync catalog and let's start that and we'll distribute it through the orchard, but we'll really focus on, sink and doing that. And we started doing that with our other partner, Greg and signing up on a bunch of artists for like sync deals. And we're like, wait, hold on a second. how are we going to actually create value for these artists, if we're not knowing how to distribute well on Spotify or Apple. I think we need to understand what it means to actually put music out and get traction and help build an artist and other profile. And, you know, you're not gonna make a ton of money off of the streaming platforms and you shouldn't be begging on that as like your revenue source, but it's such an important tool and it's such an important piece that whole pie and even in a pandemic even more so right now. And so Yeah, we kind of took a step back and we're like, all right, we got to figure out how to release music in the digital modern landscape and do it better than anybody and leaner than anybody else. And so we started working on R and D projects with yellow shoots and had some really early successes and kind of put us on the map a little bit. Like, you know, we, got on a couple of big playlists on Spotify and a couple of things we were able to get an advance from the orchard and a couple of things that just kind of happened, but I don't think we really knew what we were doing. And like a couple of years ago, we're still learning.

Alisa Wang:

Great. Thank you. Could you tell us about some memorable moments of working with artists at la reserve?

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

My friend Benny, v-neck the third, he's a fabulous trumpet player. Amazing vocalist. Um, we met at Allstate jazz in Pennsylvania. He's from Pittsburgh. I'm from Philly. We met when we were like 14 and he's like, yo, I want to take you out to lunch. Like I want to put my record out with, with La Reserve. And, um, I was like, all right, bro. Like whenever we're not doing jazz, but like we'll talk. And so, He linked up and I was like, yo cool. We'll do a distribution deal for you. Like we'll help hook you up and make sure it gets put out the correct way. But you can't use our name. You can't do anything. Like we're not at where we're in the R and B label and we're not putting out jazz records. And then we put out his record. And it did really well and it got on playlist and it was the first success we had tasted out outside of indie, R and B space that we were trying to like only be in. And so I'm like, all right, cool. And then we kind of went back to doing the same things we were doing. And you know, fast forward to 2019, we put out his next record and then just started to commit.

Riddhi Singh:

Wow that's amazing to hear! So what differentiates La Reserve from other record labels?

Matt Block (Splice, La Reserve):

I think what we've learned how to do is, figure out what. What makes an artist who they are, and we amplify that. We don't want to control or tell our artists like what to do. It's more of like, cool, what are you doing? And how can we support? And like, I think that there's a lot of labels out there that try to control and to own and do all this stuff. It's me and my brother just working on this stuff. And we just, we cause we enjoy the music and we want to just be part of the artists team. That's really what it is. Like I don't even think we're a label. Like we're more of a team and we're both invested in it. Like we do our, everything on a rev share deal. So if an artist doesn't make money, then we don't make money. And so we're always hungry and we sign hungry artists. And we just released, the first single from Katie, George who's, I think one of the best upcoming localists in the world. And you know, she's the face of a few of the biggest Spotify jazz playlist. The thing that separates us, I think from other labels is our process. We have a lot of things that we need from our artists and we really figure out ways to create. Like a moment, like a six to eight month moment out of any project. Like whether it's an AP or an LP. Making music is really hard and making good music that you really care about is really hard. And like when we get a project, we want to take that and stretch that out as long as we can. And that's, I think why we've been able to. Build a label around that because we try to we let our artists do and be who they want to be. And then we figure out how to amplify that and like really build a whole story and vision that lasts a long time over that.

Jeff Zhang:

That's about all the time we have today. This has been the entrepreneurship in music episode of Drop the Mic: Music Industry Conversations. Thank you so much for listening to our podcast today. We wanted to give special thanks to Roneil, Elomida and Matt for taking the time to chat with us, as well as Jay LeBoeuf and the MUSIC150P team at Stanford for making this project a reality. If you like what you heard, please feel free to subscribe to Drop the Mic wherever you find your podcasts. Thanks again and have a wonderful rest of your day.