Dan Dabner from Songstall (the startup I introduced you to last week) was kind enough to be interviewed on MusicKO. This is the first part of the interview I conducted with him– proceed here for part 2.
Full Name: Dan Dabner
Tell us a little about your startup. How was it conceived? What are the features that (in your opinion) give it an edge over the competition?
The idea for Songstall came from a discussion between my brother and me while we were jamming one evening. As musicians ourselves we know what it’s like to be an unsigned artist and all the options out there are based around the ideal of getting signed by a big record label. All the services that offer to help in that long-term goal (promotion, recording, etc) always seem to charge high up-front fees that we know most artists simply can’t afford and prices them out of the market. That’s where Songstall comes in – you don’t need a record label to sell your music online, and we don’t charge anything to sign up. We just take a cut on any sale artists make to cover costs so we only make money if they do, which means our interests are aligned with theirs. In addition, artists get their own customizable shop page so they can set their own prices, choose their own colours and get their own URL they can promote at their gigs. We’ve not seen another service that offers all of this.
What was the original launch date?
We launched the website on Halloween 2009. How rock ‘n’ roll is that?
What has been the response so far? In which countries has it been more successful?
We’ve had some very positive feedback about the website and the sign-ups are really picking up. We’ve been most popular in the UK, USA and Canada, though we do offer our service world-wide.
What features can we expect to see implemented in future revisions?
We have many plans for the Songstall service, most notably an integration with Facebook which will allow artists to publicise directly to their friends and fans so they can get the word out there about their music as cheaply and effortlessly as possible.
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?
The music industry has always relied on technology, from vinyl to tapes to CDs and now the internet. It’s up to the music industry to adapt to the technology that its consumers are using, and now that’s the internet. It is true that internet piracy has had a huge impact on music sales but the industry could and should have reacted sooner to get music available more easily and cheaply to fans. Instead of embracing the internet, record labels tried to maintain the traditional CD album model because it was more profitable, but that model is on its way out. Now it’s only right that fans can pay for a single track because they’ve heard and liked it, not be forced to buy a dozen tracks only to find that most of them are filler. We think this is a good thing for music fans, it just means record labels have to adjust down their profits and realize their market is more competitive now.
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?
The most important thing is to know your customer. For us that’s unsigned artists and because we’re unsigned musicians ourselves we already knew what our customers would want. If you don’t offer the service that your customers want and at the right price then you won’t be successful.
Continue to Part 2.