SoundzAbound is one of the most interesting startups that I have reviewed so far. And I have had the privilege of catching up with its president and co-founder, Barry Starlin. Now you can read the whole story.
This is Part 1; it deals with the genesis of the startup and its repercussion so far. Part 2 is about Barry and his musical past, present and future. Make sure to check it here.
Full Name: Barry Starlin Britt
Position: President and Co-founder
Tell us a little about your startup. How was it conceived? What are its most distinctive features in your opinion?
Back in 1996 a district educator in the Atlanta area was working in the media department and getting many requests for royalty free music that could be used in PowerPoint and news shows primarily. Most of the audio was too expensive and mostly “elevator music” in those days. He contacted me about producing some demos. Once the demos were done and I could see the results of use, I was on board.
The most distinctive features were the technological needs, the need for copyright compliance in the school systems and mostly, our intellectual property was unmatched having been a marriage between district educators and music industry professionals that soon join us.
What was the original launch date?
Our first Volume was released in August 1998 and Soundzabound was officially incorporated just shortly after that same month. We did not decide to take the company full time until 2005.
What has been the response so far? In which countries has it been more successful?
The response has been amazing. I never knew what a necessity our product would be. In the early days I personally thought it would be nothing more than a novelty, but technology and compliance really drove the need.
Being a U.S. based company with strategic focus on the district, regional and state levels of K-12 education, the United States has been our most successful country, but the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, China and India are of course quickly emerging.
What features can we expect to see implemented in future revisions?
You can expect lots of enhancements to our technology and search features, more licensing from the major and indie music markets plus online training resources. We are also getting ready to start production on a Latino collection that will be recorded in Peru. This will employ many local area artists. Our productions will also employ other artists, graphic designers and technicians here in the states. We recently hired a new developer of online training materials who is based in Queens, NY. A part of our mission has always been to create jobs.
There is a certain tendency to demonize the Internet in the music industry. I think it is all a matter of perspective – it all depends on the uses it is put to. What is your opinion? In which areas has the Internet left an unquestionably positive mark?
As a person who helped start the indie music scene back in the late 90’s, my perspective is very positive in the sense that an artist doesn’t need a major record deal to do their thing. I had always felt that the public suffered because there was so much great music out there never being heard. But, the Internet changed all that. The only downfall I see is now is the music industry is oversaturated. We went from one extreme to the other. I think it would be nice to have some balance.
What advice could you give to anybody who is launching a music-related startup in the future? What are the obvious mistakes that should be avoided?
Be creative and innovative; it never does anyone any good when things get overdone with the same old same old. It is the age of new thinking. Avoid being a copycat.
Read Part 2 of this interview.