Indiloop‘s VP of business development Kahlil Ashanti told midemblog about recent successes, the challenges of being a music startup, and how Indiloop works with labels and brands alike.
midemblog: What is Indiloop? What is it inspired by, and what is its mission?
Kahlil Ashanti: Indiloop is a cloud-based remix website and app that allows anyone with an internet connection to create remixes in seconds by mixing and matching stems (isolated instrumental or vocal tracks) from their favourite artists. Indiloop is inspired by our desire to create something cool that we can share, without needing a PhD in audio engineering. Our goal is to democratise the remix and become the Instagram of music.
> As a MidemLab 2014 finalist, you’re a promising music startup. How is business going right now? What recent successes suggest now’s the right time for Indiloop ?
Indiloop is growing steadily and we’re pretty happy with what we’re learning. Vans Warped Tour and Fearless Records partnered with us for the first ever Vans Warped Tour 2014 remix contest (above) and the results exceeded everyone’s expectations. In the first two weeks after launching the contest we received over 1,000 remixes from users aged 14-27, 65% of which had never used remixing software before. 96% of the users shared their mixes to Facebook, and our userbase tripled and continues to grow. Maybe I can borrow that yacht from Elton John now…
> What ‘survive and thrive’ tips would you give to fellow music startups?
I can relate to this a lot because of my background as a performer and writer, which at first seemed like an odd fit for bizdev VP at a start-up… but it has actually been a huge asset. As creative souls or entrepreneurs, we often try too hard to get it right the first time and that’s detrimental to success. We refuse to put anything in front of an audience or users until it’s just right. This is a mistake. Understand that your first version of anything (screenplay, book, app, website, whatever) is going to be ugly, but at least you have something to start with and a way to get feedback from users. As long as the context is established with the end user or the customer (“we’re in beta”, “hoping to hear your thoughts”, etc), you’ll be fine. Those are the two pieces of advice: Invite the ugliness and stop assuming. Ask your audience and listen without being defensive. All feedback isn’t going to be 100% useful, but it beats spending copious amounts of time and money building something based on false assumptions.
> Do you work mainly with brands, or more with labels? What are the key challenges?
To date we’ve worked mainly with labels, and we’ve been presented with a few exciting opportunities to work with brands as well. The key challenges with working with indie labels is navigating the learning curve about stems and how to locate them, but we’ve been very impressed with the support we’ve received from the Indie label community. They key challenges with working with major labels are numerous, but we believe we’re on the right track. The folks at Sony, Warner and Universal have all engaged us in positive ways and we’ll get there eventually. Maybe I’ll take them for a ride on my yacht. Although I do get seasick… A trip to Vegas should do it. Right?
> How did Midem 2014 help move your business forwards?
We were pretty intimidated by the costs of attending Midem. As a startup, every penny counts and flying half way across the world seemed a little intense for what could be just a few meetings. On the flip side, a ship that never leaves the harbour is useless. So we jumped in with both feet and decided to make the most of it and we could not have been more impressed with the connections we made at Midem. Not only were we selected for the MidemLab competition, we were introduced and had meetings with some of the top influencers in our field. The most prevalent relationship we forged was with (sports marketing company) WWP Group, who actually approached us about an exciting business model and opportunity we had never thought of before. We also had a chance to sit down with several great Indie labels and show them our app in person and those relationships are still unfolding. I’ve been to my share of conventions and trade shows; Midem is the only one where the people we hoped to meet were incredibly accessible and approachable. These people go to Midem to make deals. Technology has made in-person meetings seem obsolete, but that’s far from true. Midem is a great place to share stories, do business and make connections. Don’t be the ship that never sails.