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Audiomack CMO Dave Ponte’s Plan to Grow the Pie for Artists

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It’s been ten years since Dave Ponte co-founded Audiomack alongside Dave Macli. The decade has been strong in international growth for the music streaming platform — Audiomack recently became Nigeria’s number-one overall iOS app in a given week — but if Ponte has it his way, Audiomack will next become THE “home base” for artists, a place to begin their entire musical journey. The platform has rolled out numerous features to support those lofty ambitions, plus has several others in the works. 

 

One of the features that is live is the Supporters monetization tool. Launched in December, the tool allows fans to directly pay artists in exchange for a “badge” that memorializes their name in their profile and that of the supported artists. In the four months of being live on-site, Supporters has created $30,000 in new revenue for artists on Audiomack. As Dave told us in the episode, unlike competing streaming services, Audiomack is concerned with increasing the “size of the pie” for the entire music industry — not merely finding additional ways to ”slice the pie.”

 

Dave and I spoke at length about artist monetization — and how Web 3.0 possibly fits into the equation — throughout the episode. Here’s everything else we covered: 

 

[0:00 Big Start To 2022 For Audiomack

[0:55] Evaluating Audiomack’s Supporters’ Monetization Tool Post-Launch

[3:38] Updating The Supporters’ Product Over Time

[6:47] $30,000 Created For Artists (So Far) With Supporters Tool 

[10:25] Artist Campaigns On Audiomack

[14:28] Audiomack’s Newly-Launched Creator App 

[17:50] Mobile App “Stickiness” 

[20:23] Audiomack’s “Home Base” Aspirations

[24:05] Artist Resource Guide On Audiomack

[27:52] How Brian Zisook’s Twitter Threads Influenced Artist Guide 

[30:20] Different Dynamic Between Audiomack & Other Platforms

[32:55] Audiomack’s Biggest Challenges 

[38:42] How Does Web 3.0 Factor Into Audiomack’s Future?

[46:26] Audiomack Motivated To Bring AfroBeats To America

 

To listen to more Audiomack Trapital episodes, check out the two below:

Audiomack Co-Founder & CEO Dave Macli: 

https://trapital.co/2020/11/16/dave-macli-on-audiomacks-role-in-music-streaming-partnership-with-djbooth-and-global-expansion/

 

Audiomack VP of Product Charlie Kaplan: 

https://trapital.co/2021/12/10/charlie-kaplan-on-audiomack-supporters-artist-fan-monetization-and-streaming-business-models/

 

Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSS

 

Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co

 

Guests: Dave Ponte

 

Trapital is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo

 

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Transcript

David Ponte  00:00

We cultivated all this. We aggregated all this. And now we’re providing all of this for free. We’re not charging anyone for it. If you go on the Audiomack app, you’ll be able to access them. And you’ll be able to learn and find out the answers to these questions because, frankly, I didn’t even know a lot of these answers. I mean, there’s so much to learn in the music industry. And you know, I know some things but there’s a lot of things that I don’t know. And I’ve, when going through this guide, learned a lot. And it can be one small decision that an artist would make, that can make a huge impact on their career in their life.

 

Dan Runcie  00:39

Hey, welcome to the Trapital podcast. I’m your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip hop culture to the next level. Today’s guest is Dave Ponte. The Chief Marketing Officer and co-founder of Audiomack. Audiomack is a music streaming platform and a music discovery service that reaches more than 20 million people across the world. It was great to chat with Dave because a few months back, I had talked to Charlie Kaplan fromAudiomack. This is when they first launched their platform, Supporters. Supporters is a tool that brings artists and fans more directly together where fans can directly contribute to a release of an artist give money to the artist for that, have their name be associated with that, and be able to show that badge through the Audiomack platform. We talked about the rollout of that we talked about how that fits more broadly, with Audiomack strategy to be a home base for artists and how it’s doing that also through its creator app, through its artist’s guide, and a few of the other things it has planned. 

 

And that pivots us into a discussion about how Audiomack’s strategy fits within the broader music ecosystem in the broader streaming service. There are much bigger streaming services, but many of them are still copying a lot of the moves that Audiomack has done. So we talked about what that dynamic is where Audiomack is growing most right now and how this company is thinking about the future. And when you think about web3, when you think about all these other things, how much of this is an actual opportunity, how many of these things are buzzwords or just fluff, Dave and I get into all that. I had a great conversation with him. Here’s my chat with Dave Ponte. 

 

All right, today, we got Dave Ponte here from Audiomack, and I got to give him credit, the company has been having a pretty good run lately. They launched some new platforms, they’ve been growing internationally. Dave, we got to get the latest on how things have been going on your end?

 

David Ponte  02:50

Things have been going great. We’re really happy about how 2022 is shaping up. And we have a lot of great new features and platforms and apps and other things that are going to help artists, you know, improve their careers and move music forward.

 

Dan Runcie  03:06

Definitely. Yeah, I think it was a couple of months back, I feel like that, we’re making the rounds because I had had Dave Macli about a year ago or so, had Zeon after that, and had Charlie Kaplan on most recently. And we talked all about Supporters. And I feel like this is a pretty big launch for you all when Charlie came on, we were just talking about the launch and the goals of having something where artists and fans can connect more directly in just bridging that line together. 

 

And now you have at least a few months of it to see how things have been going. So how has that been so far? How is Supporters?

 

David Ponte  03:42

I’m really happy with how it’s launched. The product has worked really well. There hasn’t been any when you’re developing software, and you’re adding a new feature like this, which is a completely different way that we would approach typically how our app would work. You know, we’re a streaming platform, you know, you could play songs, you could follow artists, you could do all the things that you would do in a streaming platform, but now we’re adding this e-commerce functionality. So it’s a new foray for us. And it’s gone off really, very smoothly. All the artists’ supporters have been able to buy badges, it’s all the finance and reconciliation portion has worked out very well, and the artists are really happy about this additional revenue stream that they can now employ.

 

Dan Runcie  04:24

Nice. I got to imagine for a lot of the artists, it brings them closer because that’s one of the reasons that they’re likely building on Audiomack as opposed to elsewhere. I feel like one of the pitches that you all have had from the beginning is that – A. you’re going to have artists that are much more in control of what they’re doing from how they’re building their brand on your platform. 

 

And then I think, in addition, you’re not necessarily always working with the artists who are more bound by a major record label or another entity. So by being able to have what I imagined a lot of independent artists using this tool and bring it up to you whether that is the through-line there, and of course, we’re seeing so much happening with platforms in all different types of technologies trying to bring folks together, but I think you are able to do it in a way that is seamless, and it’s visible because I think at the end of the day, people do want to be able to show off their fandom, and who they support.

 

David Ponte  05:19

Yes, one thing that, you know, I talked to Charlie, you know, who was one of the main architects of this feature, and he was a guest on your podcast, I recommend everyone had to listen to him if you listen to this now. But he told me I was very, he’s a very eloquent guy. And what he told me and I thought it was a good way to look about it is, this is the first hour of the new year with this supporters product, there’s so many different things that we want to add, and that we’re in the midst of adding when I wanted to share a couple of those on your podcast. And, and, you know, we always had this challenge, Dave Mackley and I write what your things are never going to be perfect. When you release a new product, a new part of our product, a new app, you’re never going to release it. So you have to just eventually push it out, let the people experience it, consider their feedback, and then work that into future iterations. So that’s what we’re doing here. There’s a lot of new things we want to add. And we want to revise. And, you know, I’m not just gonna sit here and tell you everything’s perfect, right? That would be boring, number one. But number two, it’s not reality, especially with when you’re dealing with app development. 

 

So one of the things we realized was the price of the supporters’ badge, overall, I think was too high. So about a month into the program, we actually reduced the prices, the cost of the badge. So now, you know, you could buy a badge for $1 instead of $2 US and obviously changes depending on where you are, I don’t think we’re a global app, we’re really big in Africa, particularly West Africa, and Nigeria have gone up. And once we lowered the price for the lowest cost badge from two to $1, we saw a lot more people buying badges and supporting those artists, we actually ended up creating more revenue for the artist with this small but impactful change. And we don’t want, you know, the whole concept Audiomack has to have a low barrier to entry, whether an artist or whether you’re a fan, you know, Audiomack is a free app, you could download, begin, take music offline for free, no matter where you are in the world. And if you’re an artist, you could have unlimited space to upload your music, you have unlimited opportunities to look at the data, glean insights from how people are consuming your art. And now they can support you directly by buying a badge, a Supports badge. So that was one small but big, really big change, impactful change that we saw, and we made about four weeks into the launch of the product.

 

Dan Runcie  07:41

So I think that’s a key point. Because I think a lot of people from the outside may look at the price sensitivity of $2 to $1 and may not think it’s much but that’s what we’re seeing in you know, the Western world and being able to think about that relative to the price of a streaming service increasing or anything like that. But you’re obviously global, and you’re growing in places where that difference makes a lot more or that difference is much more meaningful. So do you have any stats or any, how that difference is from a quantitative perspective of how much of an increase or usage rate you saw from lowering the price from two to one?

 

David Ponte  08:17

Well, I don’t know if I have that stat, particularly I wish I did. But we have more badges sold. I think once I did have my team collect was just the amount of money that we’ve made for artists since launch and that’s 30,000 over $30,000. And that’s a good point. We had that mindset. Obviously, we’re a New York company, we’re Americans. And we know it’s hard for us to think about how what it might be like for someone in Nigeria or someone in Tanzania, for example. But we eventually figured it out. We got feedback from a lot of our ambassadors on our team out there. And I think the way probably to think about it is the streaming rate, right? So you know, you make a certain amount per stream on Spotify, title, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Youtube, Audiomack. And we’re an ad-supported platform, right? So the majority of people who consume music on Audiomack do it for free. As I mentioned, we make money on ads, though the revenue from those ads pays the artists. So what we thought of is how can we increase the size of the pie? As opposed to how can we create more and more slices of that pie to split around, right? So if you look at some of the other streaming platforms, you know, powered royalties or this or that they’re not making more money, they’re just sending the money to different places, right? There’s not more money in the pot. Let’s send it around to more people that you listen to and that’s not a bad idea. Inherently, I don’t mind that at all. And that’s good. But what we’re trying to do is increase the pie. So when you buy a supporters badge, that pie is increased for that particular artist. And if you are making you know, $150 on 100,000 streams or you’re making and maybe on Spotify $400 for 100,000 streams, again, depends on where you are and where you’re listening. But if you get a certain amount of supporters, you know, we have a couple of artists that have 100 supporters on one song, now you’re making even more than you are on Spotify. For that one song, everything is sort of comes into this effective stream rate, which actually is an advertising term that we flipped a little bit effective CPM or effective stream rate is sort of the amalgamation of all the different revenue that you’re bringing in, that you could then turn to give to that artist.

 

Dan Runcie  10:32

That makes sense. Because if you’re thinking about supporters, and you’re thinking about just how many artists, you know, total that $30,000 or plus worth of revenue, then you’re likely, as you mentioned, you’re probably going to have a few at the top, it sounds like there’s a few that have 100 or more supporters, but I see. But it does seem like something where you know, as it grows, and it continues, that’ll be good. But at least in my perception, you get some if I’m wrong, it seems like it’s most likely going to be you know, a few artists that end up doing the doing really well with it. But then their success in a lot of ways not only paves the way for others, but if they become case studies, they could be like, Oh, look how much money so and so made for being able to support us that influences others who either are already on Audiomack, to push their supporters more heavily or encourage us folks that may be on a different platform to come in short years and do the same.

 

David Ponte  11:27

That’s a really good point. That’s what my job and the marketing team’s job has been to work with artists to create campaigns for those artists a way to get their fans engaged, but also to prove and provide a template for artists that might follow those artists that we’re working with, to then do their own campaigns. And we’ve seen some of that, I’d like to see more, you know, when we built some additional functionality, and some changes, I think we will see more. But I wanted to give you some examples of some of the cool campaigns that we’ve seen artists do. So one is this is a Latin pop artist, her name is Noemi, and she had a really cool idea she came to us, we’ve helped her sort of put it together, essentially, one of her friends makes custom sneakers. So they made three different customs types of sneakers that like know, the sort of look and of the sneakers are obviously correlated to what her album and our theme of her album was that you support. And then when you support it, you know you have a chance to win these custom sneakers that she’s going to sign that the artist is going to sign and send that. So she had a good amount of supporters, but not too many to where if you bought a badge, you would have no shot, right? I think she had close to 30 supporters for this. And one of those supporters will get this custom pair of like Air Force ones that are really, really dope. That was really cool example of how one artist, you know, created something with their fans and made some money in the process. But really, it was really to get more attention about her song. We had another artist, a huge dancehall artist, Alkaline, one of the biggest artists out of Jamaica, he’s really big in Florida, there’s a very large Jamaican diaspora in South Florida. And like the Fort Lauderdale area, I think there’s more Jamaicans Jamaican-Americans there than anywhere in the US. So we got a concert, they’re very highly sought-after events that happened actually just this past week. And if you were, he picked five supporters to come to the show on his behalf. So you, if you supported him in his song, you’d have a chance to win tickets to the show. So I thought that was really really interesting. He has such he was already getting he had more supporters than anyone who really didn’t like do a campaign. He’s just a mass of artists and Audiomack is really big in Jamaica and in the Caribbean. So his fans are really excited about that. I think a couple actually flew to Florida for the show. And they got a bunch of merch Audiomack merch, they got Alkaline merch, and they’re really, really happy about that. So those are a couple of examples that I was really excited about, just like how we could bridge the gap from online to real-life, like a real-life experience.

 

Dan Runcie  14:01

Yeah, the Alkaline story hits home for me, I’ve actually been getting better again, I have family in the Fort Lauderdale area. So that speaks volumes there. And I feel like I’m thinking about the other places of the country that have pretty big shake-up populations, of course, New York, but also our for the county, which is where I’m from you got a good amount there. So I feel like alkaline has some Audiomack real estate there as well. But I think you know, zooming out of it and talking to you and you know, most of your colleagues as well at Audiomack. I do see the broader strategy around getting creators on board, how do we best support them? And how do we empower them to maximize what they can do and use our platform to make that happen? I know you all recently launched the Creator app as well, which I think is also along these lines. So can you talk a little bit about that and what you thought the market needed that made you want to launch this?

 

David Ponte  14:55

The Creator app, again, Charlie Kaplan, he was the architect of this and there was really a gap in the market, right? Like, if you look at our competitors, it’s just not something that they focus on, right? Like the, you know, for our competitors, the majority of the music that they get are from distributors. So there’s no touchpoint between the platform and the artist. And again, that’s what our goal is to draw the shortest line between the artists and the fan. So more intermediaries expand that line, as opposed to shortening it. The Creator app is a tool that allows artists to through an app environment and not a website environment, what you could do on our Creator dashboard on the web, but the app allows you to engage with fans through comments. It allows you to see your stats, see where people are playing your music, what geographic area, see, you know, the graphs in terms of how many streams and how many playlists, ads, and favorite favorites are getting. And we’re adding monetization to this as well. In fact, it’s almost done by the time people statistics should be, the monetization functionality should be available in the Audiomack creator app. And what this will do is allow you to withdraw money from your audio Max stream earnings and your supportive edge sales directly. So this was a really, really important feature because, you know, if you think about if you have crypto, right, if you have the Coinbase app or one of these other apps, you probably look at seeing how much money or you’re losing or gaining on a given minute, right? With crypto, you open your banking apps all the time you open your stock apps, if you have investments, when there’s money involved, people are gonna want to check it all the time, obviously, it’s their livelihood. So we’re gonna give the artists the ability to withdraw directly from the Creator app and put that money in their pocket. And hopefully, they’ll use that to expand their artistry, develop their career, and invest in tools that help them, you know, create more art for all of us. So the critter app is actually grown more than I thought we’ve already beat our goals. You know, we had goals for the marketing team to exceed a certain amount. And we’ve already exceeded them way early. So there’s a high demand for it. And I think our competitors don’t really take that part of the artist’s lifecycle seriously. And I think it’s really important. So we were happy to swoop in and provide that value for our artists.

 

Dan Runcie  17:08

And I think for the folks listening, to a lot of people, no, of course, you have the web interface, but a lot of the companies do go through this transition where okay, we clearly have it’s available on the web. But let’s build the app. And there’s a number of reasons why I think it just leads to more stickiness, more usage. But are there any other advantages that you all had in terms of, okay, this app, whether it’s the potential to have a moat around this, or the potential to have something stronger, because, of course, as you mentioned, a lot of it was available through the web before. But I do think that you know, an app just allows you to have likely a few more lasting touchpoints, and being able to add a bit more direct value

 

David Ponte  17:47

100%. The whole concept of having an app is how can you make it more sticky, right? You know, all the social media apps are designed to essentially monopolize your attention, right? And for better or worse, that’s how the app world is and how the world is. So how can we make it more sticky? What are the things that artists really want to glean from an app like a creator app, you know, some things that make them you know, make better decisions, or provide insights that allow them to pivot, if things aren’t working or put more resources into something is really working, they need the information to do that. And it needs to be an ease-to-access that information, you know, to access our Creator dashboard, you know, on the web, it’s not the smoothest situation, it’s made for a desktop website. So an app allows you to just see it, click on it, and then instantly access, it is much quicker. And we had a similar, it was a similar process back in 2015 when Audiomack was just a website. And we started to see all the web traffic going down, and all the mobile web traffic going up. And that was probably similar for a lot of companies at that time period, and then once we created the apps at the beginning of that year, the game changed for us, and it’s just something about an app that people love, and it’s probably because it’s made to monopolize their thoughts, unfortunately.

 

Dan Runcie  19:07

Yeah, definitely. And with this, you talked to a fair amount as well about your competitors. And of course, you’re in the unique place where to call it DSP or digital streaming provider, maybe a bit too blanket because I think each of them are so different in what they offer. But I do think that you all have such a unique place where for a lot of it, maybe the competition at this point is if there is a home that an artist more likely to independent artists is trying to build and grow their career, it’s whether or not that home is with you or with another else even if they may still some of them especially as they grow, they may still want to have the awareness wherever their listeners may be, so they may still put some stuff elsewhere but it’s about Okay, where’s that home base? Because I think no different than a company now. There’s all these platforms where you could put your attention and everything but most people are poor. I’ll be picking one or two to focus on and put everything behind. So I assume it’s probably that way for artists, but it’d be good to hear from your perspective how that lens is, with competitors. Knowing that, you know, I’m sure you probably want to have that home base. But there are other artists that may, you know, have their feet in a few different waters.

 

David Ponte  20:20

That’s exactly right. Home Base, I mean, I believe Dave probably has used that exact language verbatim, to describe what our goal is, you know, we want an artist to again, open up that Audiomack app and see if everything is going and then go from there. I always tell artists, when we speak to them, I’m not asking them to do everything, and only on Audiomack, right, Audiomack is a piece of their puzzle, they’re going to have to put out visuals, they’re going to have to use other platforms to gain fans. And that’s fine. But we want them to really start their day and start their journey with Audiomack. So we have a couple of tools that are coming out very soon, that should reinforce that brand vision of becoming the home base for an artist at first place that they start the first song they upload the first 10,000 plays that they get. And it’s incredibly important, it’s incredibly competitive because we’re, you know, really a David and Goliath scenario here, it’s not a coincidence at all, our name is Dave here. So, you know, we’re dealing with companies that are in the billions and billions of dollars of revenue. And, you know, we have to use that to our advantage, you know, similar to that old story from the Bible, or, you know, you have to be nimble, you have to outsmart them, you have to out-innovate them. And sometimes that works to your advantage if you want to add a product. And you know, Dave, and I and the team are behind it, we’ll do it quick. You can’t do that at a big company with all the bureaucracy, and that’s owned by shareholders. So we try to innovate, you know, and be ahead of the wave as opposed to following the way and that’s precisely it was creating that home base being the first place that artists journey so that one, they remember you in their laurels, you and we’ve seen that with a lot of artists, you know, that we’ve helped launch that are big now. And they come and they still, you know, fuck with us, for lack of a better phrase, pardon my French, but they come back and they still come to our studio, they’re still meet with us, still create content with us and still promote Audiomack links.

 

Dan Runcie  22:18

Yeah, and I think you alluded to this artist’s guy that you have coming up because I think a lot of it’s that right? What is that playbook that you want to be able to give artists that they can see, and I’m sure it’s involving Audiomack, but you’re probably addressing the broader music ecosystem and chess promotion as well. Is there anything more about that rollout? And what that will look like for artists to share? Let’s take a quick break to hear a word from this week’s sponsor.

 

David Ponte  22:45

Yeah, so the artist’s guide is going to be a free educational resource and glossary for artists, musicians, primarily, that are just starting or have recently started their career in their development as an artist. So the way that we approached it is if we’re an artist, what would I search into Google, right? Meaning when do I need a manager? Or what is publishing? Or, you know, when do I get a lawyer? Or when should I get a record deal? Or what distributor should I choose? Anything that you might like, type into Google is kind of how we thought of it is something that we wanted to provide that answer for. And we had our very talented writer and editor, senior head of their, Donna Jasmine, best-selling author, Donna, who had interviewed dozens and dozens of industry experts from companies ranging from you know, Sony, to Universal to BMI to just all the big companies that do provide services for artists, and ask them the answer to those questions that you might type into Google. So we cultivated all this, we aggregated all this. And now we’re providing all this for free, we’re not charging anyone for it. If you go on the Audiomack app, you’ll be able to access them. And you’ll be able to learn and find out the answers to these questions. Because, frankly, I didn’t even know a lot of these answers. I mean, there’s so much to learn in the music industry. And you know, I know some things but there’s a lot of things that I don’t know, and I wouldn’t be going through this guide learned a lot. And it can be one small decision that an artist would make that can make a huge impact on their career in their life. Right? If maybe they just hesitated before they signed that deal they might have not been locked in. Or maybe if they just chose that distributor that you know, provided them an entryway into all these different playlists or, you know, whatever. They would have been better off saying we’re very excited to drop this should drop it into some point on April 22. And I really think people are going to be excited about this. We’ll also have a video component which we’re calling artists one on one. It’s really really cool. So basically, it’s, you know, a narration of these answers, and we have a whole animated series devoted to that similar to Schoolhouse Rock. If you remember We’re from back in the day. So it’s like Schoolhouse Rock vibes, but with artists’ education, so we realized that a lot of artists, you know, aren’t going to read long paragraphs about stuff, just Realistically speaking, or just people, in general, see a long paragraphs, and we’re not going to read it. So we created this audio and visual way to consume that, as a lot of artists probably will learn better that way. So they’ll be able to figure out some of the answers to these questions that they’ve been interested in learning about.

 

Dan Runcie  25:27

Does the artist’s guide include following Z from Audiomack on Twitter to make sure you stay up on the latest?

 

David Ponte  25:34

So I will tell you the truth in his tweet threads are one of the inspirations for this, I’m not even capping at all this sort of predicated our decision to do this, because his threads get so much engagement. And people are genuinely interested in learning about this stuff. Sometimes people are afraid to ask, they don’t want to be known as a beginner artist, right? Artists, especially in rap and hip hop, you know, you start off as successful write your first song, you’re already talking about how you’re really successful, you might be hesitant to maybe admit to yourself that you need to learn about these things if you’re going to be successful in the long term. So hopefully, we could provide this to any type of artist who, you know, even shows the slightest interest in gaining this knowledge. 

 

Dan Runcie  26:20

Yeah, I agree. And I said that in there because I think it’s 100%. We just know how especially Twitter is as a platform, there is always going to be some crazy take that rises to the top, and having someone like Zia there to be like, “Hey, I’m going to call the bullshit, how would I see it, and this is how it is.” It always gets engagement or the organic tweets that he has, and I remember telling that to him last time I saw him like, I mean, he knows it, but I’m like, you know, you’re doing good work. And that’s why these things are valuable. There’s so much that isn’t necessarily there out in the open even as much information that there is now and sometimes sure you can listen to some of these clubhouse rooms, where you’re not always going to get the most helpful information out there, you may get passionate voices that sound like they know what they’re talking about. But that isn’t always the case. So I think that having something like this, that’s easy to access, because at the end of the day, you know, whether it’s on Twitter, or whatever, so there’s only so much reach that we have. But knowing that your platform with audiomack is the biggest reach that you all have as a company being able to bring that altogether doesn’t make sense. And I mean, I think for you all, this is how you kind of have that David versus Goliath piece because the other companies don’t necessarily put the same things out to the same extent they have their own version of it. Like, I know that one of the major DSPs put out a report a couple of weeks ago about some of their stats, and we always see those things. But I think that it’s a little bit tougher for the companies that aren’t as forward about supporting independent artists are really trying to be that advocate when their role is much more to serve and be their, you know, their main customers than major record labels versus your main customer is the artist. So it’s a very different dynamic.

 

David Ponte  28:03

That’s a very nice way to put it, you can probably frame it in a way that sounds much more nefarious and evil. But listen, if another company is helping artists succeed, we are not going to be, have any problem with that. That’s ultimately what we want. That’s why we’re agnostic. You know, if an artist has success and one of our competitors, I will never say don’t do them, or our competitors might say that about us, right. But ultimately, we want them to become successful. Because, you know, for example, like the artist I was talking about what lotto she just came out with are really good. Um, she performed at one of our shows, you know, a couple of years before the pandemic. And you know, we had her come by our studio, we created content with her when really, she was not very well known outside of Atlanta. And now she’s an amazing, like, a huge star was a huge hit album. And she came back and she did one of our fine-tunes, which is one of our video content series. And she came back and she did that for us, her, and her fans. And if we didn’t have that we didn’t establish that trust with her and her team, you know, multiple years ago, then she would have just not came by when she was in New York. So, you know, I think when you put out a good energy, it comes back to you, we really believe in that. So the other companies that might have an interest in not having artists be educated, unfortunately, there probably would not want that, because then they might not get the best type of deal when they’re working with those artists. And unfortunately, that’s how the music industry is. And we’re hoping to change that as much as we can.

 

Dan Runcie  29:34

Are there ever any challenges that you do? Face, just given the position that you’re in? Of course, I mean, on one hand, I do look at what you’re doing very different than some of the major streaming or some of the much larger streaming services, but they in many ways are still offering a service and you know, at a much larger scale, but how does that impact your strategy or your goals for what you’re doing? Are there any regular challenges that their presence creates, or that you know, you all have, as you know, your role in the, as a streaming platform?

 

David Ponte  30:09

We do have many challenges, it’s tough, part of the challenges stem from just growing, you know, just as any business grows, you know, more employees, you know, more money, more problems, kind of thing. I think we want to expand even more globally, one of our focuses, right, so as the CMO, you know, me and the other executives figure out are what, what are we focused on, we have to kind of think of things in that way, where it’s like, alright, let’s focus on what we’re going to do for the first half of 22. One of them is how are we going to bring African music to the rest of the world, and particularly to the diaspora in the US, right? So we’re really big in Africa, where we help sort of paved the way for a lot of Afro beats music to be popular in the UK and in the US. So we think we want to expand this music elsewhere to other places where people might want, you know, whether you’re a part of the diaspora, or whether you’re just someone who might like the Afrobeat vibe, which is most people, you know, in Europe, you know, Belgium, Germany, you know, we’re looking to get into Punjabi music, and they have a large diaspora in the US, Canada, UK. So the challenge is having to do all these deals with all these labels, and get them to allow us to get licenses around the world, and especially in Africa, where we have such a large user base, and we have a lot of leverage because we are very big there. So, you know, we want to get the best deals we can. And it’s a tough deal. Doing licensing deals with labels is very, very tough. It takes our team a lot of time, it doesn’t move quickly. As I mentioned earlier, we’re used to moving quick and being nimble. And then when we work with large companies, it takes a while. So that’s a challenge for me being the curator, and the marketer is trying to figure out, you know, how can I get these artists to get more fans getting more fans means I need their music to be available in more regions. So that’s certainly a challenge. I think another challenge is just how can we maintain our differentiation? What are our competitive advantages? You know, a lot of times, you know, we’re working with to combat these other companies, they have such large budgets and resources. And, you know, we have to fight the urge to try and follow them instead, to create our own path or own blue ocean, which was a book that came out years ago I read that made a big impact on is how can I, you know, create our own blue ocean. And, as opposed to following and trying to catch up, let’s have them chase us instead. And we’ve had some success doing that a lot of the big streaming services have copied us, and a lot of the things that we’ve done, which is flattering, but annoying, too. So how can we maintain our value proposition, but really fortify it, as opposed to saying, We got to do more things like they’re doing because they have so many users, so it must work. Let’s do what they’re doing. So that’s a challenge is to try and say, All right, let’s How can we accomplish it a different way? How can we keep this person engaged in the app in a different way? So part of that is things like artist’s guides, orders, and Audiomack World in general, which is sort of a, which is where the artists guide is going to be part of the Audiomack World, which is essentially a blog interview site. That’s any streaming service, right? streaming services, utility, you have songs in there, you go to the live streaming service, the same songs are in there. There’s not much difference between Spotify and Apple Music, you know, besides some UI, maybe podcasts. But you know, Audiomack World is an entire site that you could read and learn and discover artists without just relying on a playlist algorithm to put it in front of you at the right time. We have this other way, really the old way, because we come out of the blog era. No, we’re born out of the blog era. So that was how you discovered music at the end of the arts in the beginning part of the 10s. And we tried to take what was special about that, where you learned to read about artists, and you learned about them through interviews and stuff like that on blogs, and we’re taking that and we put that in the utility of the streaming service. So we’re trying to just build that out and really showcase our the artists that use us in a different way than other streaming services.

 

Dan Runcie  34:15

Right, and that point to about them copying you, that’s, you know, not surprising at all because I think to your point, you’re doing unique things, you’re able to move a bit more nimbly, and I’m sure you likely also get acquisition offers, especially in this climate that we’re in now. And if you’re just like thinking about, you know, where things are, I think even things in terms of the future, whether it’s, you know, web three or the metaverse, there’s opportunities that you all like we have to be able to make moves in those areas if that’s something that’s on your roadmap, a bit easier than some of the others because they are larger companies, and it’s just tougher for them to pivot in that type of way.

 

David Ponte  34:55

Yeah, Web 3.0 is interesting. Everyone likes to talk about web three. It’s changing the Internet as we know it, slowly, but surely, a lot of it is hype. You know, there’s some music streaming services that are Web 3.0 and some up cool ideas, and I like them. And then other ones are probably scams that people are gonna lose a lot of money on, I think one of them, 80% of the tokens are owned by one person. So it’s, whatever you see something like that, you have to question, you know, the actual motives of that one person there. No, and they’ve already done a lot of shady things that I will get into. But other Web 3.0 music companies are doing cool things, and we look at that we go, we might be able to do something like that. Again, if it adds value to artists, it could put money in artists’ pockets, and it’s like legitimately and the value exchange between the fan and the artist is equal, then you’re damn right, we’re gonna look into doing that. There’s some awesome, exciting things we’re looking at, in terms of, again, this concept of supporters, how can we create a real-life experience from something that was born out of the app, if you buy a badge, a supporters badge, maybe that’s an NFT, maybe that NFT gets you access into a shop, or it gets you access into, you know, sell merch, or something like that? You know, can you accomplish those things without having to, you know, waste a lot of electricity, maybe, but maybe there’s a way to do it cheap. It could be on the blockchain, you know, you could validate the token that someone has or the NFT that they have, and then provide, you know, that gets some access into something or, you know, helps create a community around. I think a lot of the appeal of web three is that it’s a community in a discord. Right? All the big ones are in a Discord. You know, people want to be part of a group of like-minded individuals. So it’s maybe not because of the blockchain, but because you’re in a community, right? So we’re trying to think about, how can we accomplish things with does web three, make it more efficient, cheaper, easier, more lucrative than we would employ that, but we’re not going to do it just for the press, which some companies are are doing and watch.

 

Dan Runcie  37:05

Something that I thought about, I remember thinking about this back when I had the conversation with Charlie, and he was first explaining the idea behind supporters is this is a concept that other platforms outside of music have done on the blockchain, but you aren’t really shown that, okay, you could still have these dynamics off of it. And I’m not going to get into the whole discussion of if you could do something on versus off-chain, that and you still do it on-chain. But I do think that it highlights that a, if you’re going to do something in this space, it should really be either an additive in a way that you’re leveraging something that you didn’t have like I think there’s a very easy connection of thinking of what could a token look like for a supporter of a particular artist like Iran? Like I think there’s plenty of things there. But does that enable you to do something that you couldn’t currently already do through the current audio Max supporters? Or does allow you to do it better or more efficiently or something to build to the future? I think, I mean, I could imagine that that’s the thought process, as opposed to just kind of, oh, let’s do a web three thing. And then let’s do that. But I’ve seen it, you know, different pitch decks and all these things. And it’s like, I don’t know if that’s quite the way to do it, but I feel like, for you all, there’s a clear through-line there.

 

David Ponte  38:22

Yeah, there is. And that was well said, I concur with what you just said, you know, there’s, do it to add value. Don’t do it for the like dog and pony show part of it, where it’s like, we’re on-trend. We’re doing all this Web 3.0. Now we’re worth more, you know, one of the things you know, our supporter’s badge, you know what I like it if like if you bought a supporters badge, it was actually an NFT. And we minted it for you. And then you could keep that, or you could sell that or trade that. That would be great. I mean, there’s obviously a ton of work involved with that. One of the things that I think a lot of companies are wrestling with is that you know, Web 3.0 is inherently decentralized, right? Businesses are not decentralized, they are centralized. And you want to keep it centralized because that’s how you control things. And that’s ultimately how you’re going to make money. But if you put it on the blockchain, and it’s decentralized, you don’t control it anymore. And that can be a bad thing, can be a good thing, but could be a bad thing, too. And there’s risk involved with that. And obviously, companies are about mitigating risk. So I do think there’s a couple of things we’re looking at that could be really interested in adding a lot of value to artists, you know, being able to scan and an NFT to get into a community. Right? If you buy a supporter’s badge, you are now eligible to be messaged by that artist. So like Wiz Khalifa did, he did, did a supporters campaign, people supported him, and he gave them you know, I forgot the amount I think 25% or 20% off of March. So he sent them a message. Thanks for being a supporter. You know, I’m really grateful and you know, by I just came out with a new capsule and you get 20% off so stuff like that, you know, can you then take your NFT or somehow prove that you have that as opposed to putting in a code? You show them that or scan that or do something? There’s a lot of potential for sure.

 

Dan Runcie  40:11

Yeah, I think so if we’re just thinking about separating the noise from the opportunity, I think there’s still a lot of room to grow with that for sure. But I think we’ll get there. I mean, like I’ve used as an analogy before, I think we’re very much still in this, like pets.com era of things. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But that means that there is some grift, there’s some good, and I still think we’re kind of in this period, where the real champions of this era are still, you know, may still yet to emerge. Some of them may have already started. But we’ll see. It’s an exciting time for sure. But we get to the tail end. And before we let you go, I know you shared a few things that you already have in store and a few things that you have coming up. But is there anything else coming up soon for Audiomack that you want to plug in or let the tribal audience know about?

 

David Ponte  40:59

I mentioned how we’re going to, one of our goals is in focuses, is to bring Afro beats to America. And we’ve done this to some degree, we want to keep doing it. You know, all of us here are just such big fans of that type of music and that wave, you know, whether it be Burna Boy, David, Joeboy, Fireboy, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, there’s just so many great artists and also from South Africa, we’re really big fans of Amapiano and sort of the South African dance music scene. So we want to bring that type of dance music to the US and be at the forefront of that. So there could be a tour coming up with a few artists that are going to be coming maybe to a city near you. Or maybe if you buy a supporter’s badge for these artists, you’ll get certain types of access, maybe you get to meet the artist. So we’re trying to take what was cool about supporters and about Audionmack and the app, and then turn that into real-life things in the real experiences that are turned into just unforgettable memories for that fan. And great revenue opportunities for that artist. So stay tuned.

 

Dan Runcie  42:04

That’s awesome. Good stuff. I’m excited for you guys. This will be good. We’ll definitely keep in touch with you and stay in lock with what Audiomack is doing. But Dave, thanks for coming on. It’s been a pleasure.

 

David Ponte  42:14

Thanks for having me, Dan, and it’s, I love what you’re doing. I’m the one who puts the podcast on our trending section on audiomack and helps you get more fans like that. So please keep uploading, keep helping people, learn about the music business and the music industry, and I’m thrilled to be on and can’t wait to see how my voice sounds when I listen to it later.

 

Dan Runcie  42:37

No, I appreciate that. No. Thank you. If you enjoyed this podcast, go ahead and share with a friend. Copy the link, text it to a friend, post it in your group chat, post it in your Slack groups. Wherever you and your people talk, spread the word. That’s how Trapital continues to grow and continues to reach the right people. And while you’re at it, if you use Apple Podcast, go ahead, rate the podcast. Give it a high rating and leave a review, tell people why you like the podcast that helps more people discover the show. Thank you in advance. Talk to you next week.

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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