In today’s industry interview, we chat with Haulix founder Matt Brown. Now, if you’re not familiar with the streaming service that is Haulix, it’s one of the most popular platforms for labels and publicists to send advances to your favorite blogs (including Infectious!) Check out our interview with Matt below to learn more about Haulix, how to get your foot in the door (including their free job board!), and advice for submitting your music to online outlets.
Infectious Magazine: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. How are you?
Matt Brown: I’m doing great. Here in Minnesota we’re just getting over one of the worst winters in the last decade. It’s great to finally see the sun coming back!
You’re the founder of Haulix (which we love at Infectious, by the way!). Can you tell me a little about the company and what makes it unique for record labels and PR firms?
Traditional pre-release promotional efforts where a publicist mailed out physical discs to people in the press was an expensive and inefficient process that usually resulted in early leaks. We set out to change that process with a software solution. We’re known for offering a service that is really easy to use — most labels and PR firms just dive in and have their first digital promo campaign ready and sent out within 20-30 minutes after registering with us.
Our goal has always been to keep things simple. Our various layers of security and watermarking technology process and run behind the scenes. The end result is that the customer can get from point A to point B with the least amount of resistance. Same thing goes for journalists — they don’t have to remember separate passwords for each Haulix customer; they just click the invitation link and we sign them in behind the scenes. They can manage all of their promos from all Haulix customers on one convenient screen.
You come from a software development background. Can you tell us what led you into the music industry?
I was listening to Hall & Oates and Michael Jackson records when I was 10 years old. By the time I was in 6th grade, I owned every Depeche Mode cassette tape. I played drums throughout grade school and high school and in the late nineties I started to get into nu-metal. By the time I was in my mid twenties, my musical tastes progressed into melodic death metal and I was in a cover band. Music has always played an important role in my life and I eventually wanted to do something that would mix web development with the music industry.
For interested labels or publicists reading this, how does one get set up with streaming their artists through Haulix?
We are a month to month subscription service and we believe in keeping our pricing as simple as our software itself. That means no setup fees, no contracts and you can cancel any time. We also believe the proof in the value we offer should be experienced rather than going off of an online tour or brochure. All plans start with a 30-day trial. Come try us out with a real promotional campaign for a month. If all goes well, you’ll get that global reach, your album won’t leak and you’ll save money you would of normally spent on physical mailings.
You recently hired someone to handle your social media and blog. Do you think having a strong team is essential to a company’s growth? What do you suggest start ups new to the hiring process look for in a candidate?
Great question… yes, I truly believe in surrounding yourself with good people. When hiring someone, I could care less if they have a degree hanging on their wall. First thing I look at, is how well they write. You can tell a lot about a person just by how they write. Second thing I value in someone is their character. Third thing, depending on the job, I look at real work they’ve done in the past. If it’s a web developer, look at other websites they’ve built. If it’s a social media guy, read his/her tweets or blog. Talk to the candidate on the phone and go with your gut instincts.
On the other side of the coin, if someone ends up not being a good fit for the company, then you take action and let them go. Business is business — keep emotions and friendships out of the equation.
You also run Last Rites, an online metal music site, correct? What inspired the creation of Last Rites?
I started a site called MetalReview.com back in 2001. We ran that for quite a few years and then we started having all of these copy cat sites popping up (eg. TheMetalReview.com). I didn’t have the name trademarked and so we decided to make a drastic branding change — that’s when Lastrit.es was born. MetalReview.com was a great showcase for my skills in quite a few interviews over the years. It’s gotten me jobs. I learned what it’s like to be a journalist and how to run a high-traffic site. And the discs coming in the mail were the catalyst for starting Haulix. It’s been a great experience and I’ve met a lot of cool people along the way.
What advice do you have for bands submitting to online outlets?
Online outlets are used to getting lots of emails every day. Make yours personable. Do a little research on who you are contacting and personalize it to them. Don’t share your files with a free file-sharing site with pop-up ads. If the journalist is going to invest time into writing about your music, you can invest in sending your music in an easily-consumable way. Use a digital promo service **wink wink**.
James S., our social media coordinator writes great articles on this subject. Check them out on our blog.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve overcome in the industry?
In the beginning years, journalists refused to accept digital promos. They wanted to continue getting those shiny albums in the mail. There’s been a huge transitional acceptance of digital albums in the last couple of years. With everyone having a smart phone or iPod or SD card in their car, digital is obviously the way things are moving to. Our watermarks are completely inaudible and most of our customers rip the music at a high bitrate so that the quality is perfect. People in the press are seeing digital albums as a good thing now-a-days, and that’s really good for us as a business.
Having been on so many sides of the industry, what advice would you like to pass along to those looking to get into the music industry?
I’ve worked quite a few jobs in the past; everything from a busboy to a welder in a dirty factory. My advice is to not settle for any job and life you aren’t satisfied with. You only live once and so if your passion is the music industry, then get your foot in the door somewhere and work hard. Good people have a natural tendency to “move up” in companies. Learn from your mistakes and never stop trying.
With our blog and job board, we are very proactive in helping people who want to get into the music industry. If you are looking to get your foot in the door, check out our free job board.
What is one question that you don’t think is asked nearly enough that you’d like to offer insight on?
There isn’t a particular question. I just think there are so many PR people out there that don’t even realize how easy it can be. If you’ve got a good set of music industry contacts of people who want to receive promos from you, the rest is cake. In literally minutes, with our software you can have an album distributed to your entire contact list and you will see instant feedback and have the peace of mind knowing the music is protected with watermarks. The time and money you save can be spent doing other great things for the artists you represent.
In your perfect world, where would you like to see the music industry in 5 years?
You’re talking to a guy who still remembers the days of cassette tapes. You’d spend as much time fast forwarding and rewinding as you did listening to the music. We are so spoiled now! To be able to go on Amazon.com and buy an album for $7.99 and have it in my computer within 5 minutes is just amazing to me. Maybe my listening habits are different from other people, but I usually listen to an album hundreds of times, whether I’m at the gym or in the car or office. $7.99 for 20-40 hours of entertainment is a small price to pay. I really wish in a perfect world that artists were paid more money for their hard work — including no early leaking. Listeners could have instant access to purchased music. Labels and artists would be making the money they deserve and all of the surrounding companies that work in promotion and distribution would get their fair share…. it would be a healthy ecosystem where everyone comes out happy.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We’ve got a big feature update coming out. We will be offering automatic illegal link and file takedowns using the power of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Not only will music going out the door be protected with watermarks, but we will proactively crawl the internet and issue auto-takedown requests to get links and files removed. The combination of the two technologies will greatly reduce early leaking and we’re excited about it!
Keep up the great writing on Infectious and thanks for the interview.