Being an up and coming musician is full of pitfalls. We’ve talked about it before, probably because there are a number of startups looking to capitalize on what seems to be an industry plagued by substantial gaps in networking potential, and effective communications streams. Especially when it comes to working with colleagues, or even consumers outside their immediate area, recording artists all to often run into a roadblock.
Quality sound engineering for tracks can be both pricey, and limited depending on where the artist lives, and the kind of peer review potential we’ve become accustomed to through the internet is severely restricted in the outside world.
On a cold winter morning in Berlin, we met Valery Döhler, co-founder of Brokenmusic, a one year old startup looking to offer an online platform where recording artists and sound engineers can connect and do business. Aside from the company itself, Valery was happy to let us in on a range of subjects, from the trials and tribulations of being a new firm pitching an idea to investors, to life in one of the world’s most renowned tech hubs.
He started off, “imagine someone sitting on their couch, and suddenly getting an email asking them if they want to make $1000, it’s a nice deal”. That it is. It’s also the core of Brokenmusic’s selling point. When accessing the site, a visitor is directed to a search bar styled page allowing them to select recording, or post-production offers for their tracks, or even find a sound engineer they might already know.
Once one of those options is selected, users can filter search results based on anything from price, geographic location, and amenities offered to name a few.
From that point, the artist, and engineer are able to connect through the site, and start exchanging information to get their project running. The company also offers an informative video, providing insight into the range of services available. You can see that below.
Taking The Leap
As one might imagine, a service like this is able to adapt relatively easily on a global scale, something that Valery, and the rest of the senior management haven’t overlooked. “Of course, everyone wants to try the U.S. market. It’s so viral, and if you make it there than the reward potential is huge”. It’s a common thing to hear, especially from European startups. It seems like Europe is a strong testing ground for a lot of promising ideas headed to the other side of the Atlantic one day. Although Brokenmusic’s user base is primarily comprised of individuals in the German speaking regions of Europe, their growth plans might sound surprising.
“Latin America is an interesting market for us. There’s a great deal of demand, and it’s also cost-effective. For every $1 you spend on marketing there, you receive exposure equal to what $20 would get you in German speaking areas”.
That’s a promising comparison, and something to build on as well. When visiting the site you can see there’s already a user base in the region, and when promotional activities can garner such extensive interest across one of the world’s primary music markets, continuing to focus on the region seems like a wise strategy.
No matter how good an idea is though, and regardless of how promising the potential might be, at some point if a startup wants to make the leap, and hit the ground running in terms of expansion to new markets, some funding will be needed.
How do you do that though in the music industry, a field known for failure? Even SoundCloud is having to deal with major losses. Valery, having gotten accustomed to the issue noted that when it comes to pitching to pitching the company, “we tell investors we’re a digital marketplace for audio production services, while we promote to customers that we connect engineers with musicians online”. It’s a smart pivot, and one that’s not untrue either. In fact, regarding the idea of being a digital marketplace, Brokenmusic sees working with advertising companies, and game/app developers as its most promising field of growth.
As one would expect, funding might be hard to come by for startups in this line of business, something that makes diversifying the service base, and potential revenue streams all the more important.
Co-workers and Currywurst
The next question though is staffing the firm with the right people. This is where the city comes into the picture.
Valery noted that Berlin, which is home to an endless number of startups attracting individuals from around the world, is not short in talent. “People tend to come here to be part of what’s going on. I met an American guy a few days ago. He told me that he just came to find a job here now”. The city has a growing reputation as a hot-spot for all things tech, and Brokenmusic is contributing to that tradition.
While the company will have to get over the funding hurdle in order to realize whatever potential might exist for overseas expansion, should that happen, the fact that the service is ultimately applicable to several diverse fields is what really makes it stand apart. By cementing a strong base of musicians, and cooperating studios, the firm is essentially setting the framework for projects it will ultimately begin undertaking with advertising agencies, and developers. All in all, it seems like a concept poised to continue growing.