The Label Machine Podcast #16 – Nimrod Azoulai (MySphera)

Podcast

The Label Machine Podcast 16 - Nimrod Azoulai - MySphera

On this episode Nick sits down with Nimrod Azoulai, co-founder of music promotion platform MySphera. Nick and Nimrod discuss the modern challenges of promoting music, connecting with playlist curators and how MySphera functions as a bridge between artists and tastemakers all around the world.

Join us for an hour-long crash course on promotion, music marketing, EPK, releasing new music and much more.

NICK SADLER: Welcome to The Label Machine series, where we discuss with our guests how artists and record labels sell music. Today's guest is Nimrod Azoulai. He is the CEO and co-founder of MySphera, a platform that helps music reach new audiences through the new age of content creators. Currently, MySphera has worked with over 25,000 musicians from around the globe and has a roster of over 1800 content creators. He previously worked as a content lead for Tinder and he loves exploring the connections between content and technology in the creative space. Nimrod. How are you today?

NIMROD AZOULAI: I'm doing great. I'm so glad to be here. It's been a while since we last chat and I think it's been like a wave or two of pandemic in between. So it's been interesting few months, I think, with the industry as a whole and that technology ecosystem in general. And so yeah, really excited to be here, really excited to talk music and all about the things between my power and music.

NS: Yeah, awesome. Now, where are you currently calling in from? It looks very sunny and nice, which is then opposition to what I see out my window.

NA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm sorry. It's like the Tel Aviv plex. I'm located in Tel Aviv, where we have like three days of rain a year, and I think I got like, a really nice day outside. It's 18 degrees Celsius, which is cold here. And so sorry about that.

NS: Lovely, lovely. I want, I want to come and visit one day because I have heard the climate there is amazing. So yeah, maybe, maybe post-COVID I would do a trip out there. Now let's get started at the start and talk about how you got started into the industry to where you are now. Just give us a quick breakdown.

NA: Yeah, sure. So I always love music. I started off as a DJ and a record collector working at record stores, communicating with musicians in Tel Aviv and across the globe. And from there I started working in the ways of thinking, curation, working at the other end, which is like a digital radio station in Tel Aviv. And from there I started exploring technology.

I worked in startups that had some kind of connection to the creative worlds. And from there I met my co-founder and we used to do like sessions, really talking about the ecosystem of music and acquisition of technology and thinking of ways on how we can go to different problems in that. So we were discussing about music and discoveries and the shift from a more old world to conventional PR billboards and stuff to the new world, and like their new places where musicians can be discovered and the rise of music streaming and the rise of Instagram as a platform for discovering music in the days of music before it picked up.

So it wasn't picked up back then, and we wanted to find ways that are affordable for musicians to reach those tastemakers because we knew they hold like a really powerful audience behind them. And we've looked around and we see that many of the platforms that were available that we love and are more of a marketplace, and they give all the selection right to the musician, which sometimes creates a lot of friction because if you're a musician and you don't really tag your music properly or don't understand what your music is, you can submit it to the wrong people.

And if a lot of people submit wrong song to the wrong content creators. We just create a lot of load on them, and the content creators will see that in the music that doesn't fit their needs and they will dislike. So we say how we can change it around. And then we started working on MySphera and our main premise was we want to understand what music, we want to understand what content creators are looking for, and we want to make the process automatic.

And then there I think we started really reaching out to content creators that are loving to discover music and they love to communicate with their audiences. And we started building the roster and once you have like a roster of people that are eager to share new music with their audience, their musicians started coming. So naturally we have been growing ever since.

NS: So you, were you, were you referring to companies when you were talking about that kind of give out or the content curators details platforms like HubSpot. Oh, no, HubSpot, sorry. I've just…

NA: SubmitHub. I think.

NS: SubmitHub! That's right. That's what I'm thinking about.

NA: So I think the method is such a powerful piece that you need to be so well educated in how to maximize it, because many musicians come there and they just aim for all the creators there, all the playlist curators, and then they just send them and like this level of friction can really hurt their chances to be featured, and they can miss out on the creators that will love their music.

And on the other hand, it's hard to be a content creator and having like 20,000 tracks in your, in your magazine that you need to check out, is it something that you frustrating? And again, you know, I think Jason and the team are remarkable bunch of people that have done amazing things. But we wanted to take a different approach because there are a lot of SubmitHub competitors that take a very similar approach.

NS: So let's just let's just go back a step as well and talk about you know, what the mechanics of my software like you know for someone new to all this. What exactly are you doing? Like, you know, in layman's terms, from let's say I'm an artist and I've landed and I want to I want to promote my music to music curators. So these are people that have got playlists I imagine Spotify playlist and things like that, SoundCloud playlists, maybe YouTube playlists. I want to get my music into their hands. So talk me through the mechanics.

NA: So I think just one second before and I would just give a proper explanation about who are the tastemakers. They are content creators with the size of micro to nano in terms of influencer. So and we decided to focus on them because they have higher engagement rate rather than the bigger influencers. And they are individuals that are passionate about music discovery and communicating music constantly to their audiences.

So they could be curating playlists on music streaming platforms, but they can also be gamers on Twitch that sometimes put music in the background and share a playlist before every stream and it could be a yoga instructor on Instagram is going to be influencers on Instagram with just a wide range of personas that their core value that they're after is leveraging music when they communicate their content.

So if you are a musician coming through MySphera what you do is once you submit your track and add a few tags describing it, we actually run an analysis of the music itself, understanding the moods and extending the genres and understanding different waveform properties, and then we do a match with our roster of tastemakers. This match is based on not only in the music the tastemakers love, but also the music they love sharing. You can imagine a yoga instructor that love death metal, but you don't imagine her using death metal in her classes. So this is another very important layer. Once the match is done. We direct your song to the most relevant tastemakers, the tastemakers that are most likely to like the track, and when a tastemaker receives the track you receive in our tastemakers, whether it's actually an app that we develop for the tastemakers to easily listen to music, it feels like indirect, like like this, like pretty straightforward.

And if they vibe with the track, they can easily share it across their platform. They can show them they shows they can add it to the playlist. And of course they have like another way that is a little bit more novelty that we call Spotlight that we connect them directly to the musician and their they can offer something unique if they're really love with the track. It could be like an interview. It could be like an idealized version. So this is what we are able to create during MySphera campaigns.

NS: Gotcha. What kind of what kind of genres are you covering at the moment? And I understand you cover all, all genres at the moment, but, you know, is there anything that you're finding is coming from a curator's point of view, I guess seems to be more popular?

NA: You know, it's very funny because I would start by saying that mainstream genres tend to outperform like EDM trap, electronic. That is like tech house. But it caught me by such a surprise that neo-classical is starting to gain traction. Like solo piano, we've seen a lot of music that is being submitted to us that fit that genre and it's amazing to see like chill tastemakers that are more focused and may find just a vibe with this kind of music and just understand the beauty of it.
So I think it's, it's not the most popular or the most trendy, but I think it's one of the most interesting things that we came across when it comes to like genres being committed to it.

NS: Gotcha. And of the 1800 content curators or… did you say do you say curators or creators?

NA: Creators.

NS: So yeah, because I was saying content curators. When you say content creator… So like the is that because you're referring to someone who might have a yoga YouTube channel? So they are creators. Is that what you mean?

NA: Yeah.

NS: Gotcha, gotcha. Gotcha. So what are the different types of content creators you have? I mean, I guess give us a rundown of you know, what is that make up of the 1800 people.

NA: So I think first and foremost, as you said, it's curated by people who are creating content on music streaming platforms, their curated playlists, and in various genres. Hmm. On the other end, we have people that you can call influencers that are doing different kind of video content across Instagram or YouTube. And besides that, we have some gamers on Twitch, which is really exciting for us.

And besides that, you know, we are trying to find the right people on different platforms like TikTok. And we always keep an eye on emerging platforms such as Facebook and others. So I think in general, we have the latest curators. We have the influencers that would be like the yoga instructor, and we have the YouTubers and the Twitter and that I think in a nutshell.

"... we do a match with our roster of tastemakers. This match is based on not only in the music the tastemakers love, but also the music they love sharing. You can imagine a yoga instructor that loves death metal, but you don't imagine her using death metal in her classes. So this is another very important layer."

NS: Gotcha. So sort of in a way, it's like, excuse me. In a way, it's like you are almost like a because a PR company is right. You got a PR company, you give them the music, they will then go and pitch it to different playlists. So in some ways you're sort of doing that slightly automated, but then it's almost like HubSpot, not HubSpot. Sorry, SubmitHub... but they can't see it. It's I feel like it's somewhere in between. It's like you're getting you're getting that effect, but it's very it's very, I guess, curated from your point of view. How like personally from a business point of view. And I want to say also congratulations for setting up company because I know it's not easy.

So, yeah, congratulations on getting this far and moving along and building up that audience. But how are you going to how are you going to scale that if you're going to be looking at each and individual artist that comes through? Can you talk kind of talk? How are you going to tackle that problem?

NA: Yeah, definitely. So one of the main verticals in MySphera is that. So we have a time seeing that and there's a lot of analysis of the content creators and the musicians and they're constantly making it more and more data driven. So there is no individual that needs to sit down and tell the music. So in terms of doing the matchmaking itself, like I'll use fancy words, it's like an AI-driven algorithm that does the matchmaking.

I think for us it's one of our main selling points because we are like, we try to understand your music in the context of our content creators roster, and then we do the matchmaking. So in terms of handling more submissions and handling more content creators, I think it's pretty scalable. It doesn't take a lot of manual labor to do that, but I do think that as we handle with 2 types of users,

I think it's always a challenge to find the right balance because you don't want to have too much music and you don't want to have too much content creators receiving too little music.

So this has been a challenge for us and I think for everyone who has two types of views or who has like some kind of a two sided marketplace. And we work hard, we try to find places to be introduced in music. We see a lot of organic growth from the content creators side and a lot of tastemakers that applied to become tastemakers. And I think the hardest part is actually doing the proper audit and analysis on the content creator. You know, there are a lot of bad actors out there.

There are a lot of them numbers that are being like, you know, pumped up, you know. So for us, I think if we go to challenges in terms of scale, it's definitely we are constantly adding more and more layers to auditing the tastemakers because it's all about creating the value so this has been the biggest challenge, I think, also is the quality in terms of technology and of building those proper pipelines to analyze and have like that best perspective on someone and his audience and making sure he's in it for the right reason.

NS: Yeah, gotcha. Well, it's good to hear that you are auditing all the content creators as well, because I think that's really key. And I guess, you know, for the people that are listening at the moment, you know, I talked about how they how you can scale. But if you're listening right now, now is a good time to get in because you know, you guys are, you know, I guess in an early stage where it's not really crowded and you are going to get that personal touch as well.

And, you know, I know we've had three members go through, which you very kindly offered to us, and they had a really great experience. They said it was awesome. So and you know what? I think what right now, what is the… I was going to save this to the end, I’ll just cover it off now because I think it blew my mind when you told me so how much this actually costs if you want to, and today, what are we, January 2022, because I'm sure this might change in the future but what is it cost at the moment to run a campaign?

NA: So a basic campaign that takes around three weeks and has like a potential reach of around 2500 which is the minimum size of total tastemakers. Your music will be matched with and costs around $20. We blow out the reach metric through the roof with every campaign. It's just like the minimum, minimum, minimum that you can see. We don't have it, we refund the user completely. And the premium, which has a more substantial potential reach and deeper. Well we campaign but around $30. So for us, it was all about being as affordable as possible.

NS: Now, yeah, if you're listening, I don't normally use this as a platform for doing such direct promotion and mentioning prices, but I specifically wanted to, because that is insane prices, $20 and $30. I mean it's a no brainer, you know, it's completely worth using this service for that reason. I mean, you know, what's $20 nowadays is going to buy your lunch if that's, if you're living in, if you're living in an any metropolitan city these days.

So let's talk about some campaigns. So are there, I guess to start off with what are some of the artists and labels you currently work with? And can you tell us about a particular artist or campaign that you're most proud of?

NA: I think that actually the first campaign we've ever done, like our proof of concept, is definitely the campaign we're most proud of because it was the reason we created the company. We worked with an Israeli artist. This is someone who constantly reinvents himself. So he could make like an absolute funk album and then do like an ambient album. And he's just actually released from going through like full blown of funk and really mellow ambient album. And his manager reached us, reached out to us and said that he felt that there is a lot of potential for the music, but just really hard to find the right channels for it. And then we actually did just go MySphera campaign and we found these huge segment of mainstream influencers, yoga instructor team playlists that are more focused towards yoga and meditation. And we created like a brand new channel of exposure for him. So for us, it's been one of the most exciting campaigns because it was like how we imagined it. And I think it's really exciting for us just to see the independent musician that go through the platform and come back and see their numbers grow and then trying to grab a new audience and releasing new music.

So it's really cool and I think another artist, Israeli that we worked with and we've seen like really cool campaigns is Peter Spacey. Does like a lofi beat and his campaign is always really cool because he somehow manages to touch like a really large range of content creators because his style is so versatile. And we do work with a lot of our promotional companies and labels that are, I think, smaller and you know, this is what is so fascinating to us because different labels have different needs.

So working with labels is really like a layer of refinement for us because you understand how different people viewed their the promotion of the content they produce so I think feedback from labels have been so crucial for us because we understand how to be more accurate when we work with the label to create like a more tailored result as like an independent musician knows that there are 60,000 songs uploaded to Spotify every day. You're like a grain of sand among the content and all you want is just to be directed to a potential system.

And the label already often already has this base, but we want to maximize it and gather knowledge. And I think maybe I'm walking into an open door, but for me this is something that much more independent musicians, too, don't thinking of how to transform, like promotion and campaign into insights that you can translate into and strategy and to workflows and how you can double down on what's working. So it's really interesting.

NS: Yeah, I mean, I guess, yeah. When you're speaking about working with labels you know, a record label as a professional company, you know, they speak, they understand the language of promotion and marketing and understanding, like you said, like looking at the data and making the most use of it. And of course at The Label Machine, you know, where we teach, you know, to run your music career through the lens of a, of an independent record label that's a big part of it for us, is, is understanding the mechanics of how why it's important to approach your marketing and PR and a professional way and why it's important to look at the data, why it's important to have systems in place and keep working on and keep working on consistent music and campaigns. So just going back to the- So just very quickly, the two artists you mentioned, the first, what was the first guy's name could.

NA: Kutiman.

NS: Kutiman. How do you spell that? So just people can Google.

NA: K-U-T-I-M-A-N.

NS: And the second guy was called...?

NA: Peter Spacey, which is Peter and Spacey is S-P-A-C-E-Y.

NS: All right. So if you are listening without your phone and have a quick Google and check them out check them out on Spotify as well and and, and you'll be able to I guess listen to the music and check out those monthly listeners. So do you find you know with Peter Spacey as well you're saying he's come back to you a few times, you've done campaigns with him. Do you find when you work with artists more than once there is a because the music's going up maybe to the curator, the creators, and they're familiar. You get a better pick up? I guess what I'm trying to ask is that, you know, is it beneficial for someone to keep doing multiple campaigns or is it sort of a very linear type thing?

NA: So it, I have two layers of this answer. So I would start by saying doing a campaign for the same track is beneficial. As we are constantly adding new content creators to the roster. And as I said beforehand, if we see there is no potential matches, we refund the artist completely. So it's like a win-win. If you have new people that you can reach, good for you.
It's not all good – no worries. And on the other hand, our campaigns are directed not to an artist, but to a song. So if you release three singles and they have different vibe or somewhat of a similar vibe, you can create digital assets for each of them. So for you, it's just better. So as I said, like resubmitting the same thing is something we see less often, but our retention is mostly on an artist level that whenever you have a new release or you want to revamp music from the catalog, you return to another campaign.

NS: Gotcha. Gotcha. So when you with working with artists and labels, what, what do you find is the best way they can prepare there? Well, I sorry. I guess when they send it up to you, do they need to have a story and a press or is it purely just name and the music and it's taken on there. It's taken purely on the on the music basis issued by you. It doesn't matter how the press release the whole back story, like sort of talk me through that.

NA: I will first. You are completely right in the second side of things. We want the music to speak for itself. And, you know, for me, as I said, I would pitch it and I used to and I still collect records. And for me, there are two things that were important: how the cover art looked and how it felt when I put the needle on the record and we I think we wanted to keep that feeling. You know, you don't want to read like a long EPK. It meant the story of this individual. I know this individual has a story, but if the music speaks for itself, you will do the additional volume. You know, if I love the record, I will read the liner notes but I need to first love the record. And I think for us, it's like removing the level of friction and sometimes musicians – and I bet you know that – do a bad job doing EPK’s. And their EPK’s could be why they will not be picked up. And if the EPK was gone and I pressed play, I would be like, “damn, this is great. I love it.” So we try to look at it from there, reducing friction.

NS: Then from now, I totally get you. I completely agree. When I stood by records, I go to the record store and you're flicking through the new releases… And you know what? And that's why I always believe artwork is so important, because I would see dope artwork and I'd be and more than likely, when there's awesome artwork, it means the people have got good taste. And so that usually means the music is good as well. Like it's it's, you know, like they go hand in hand. I think that it's so important to get a good a good artwork. So, yeah, if you are I mean, I always go on about this, bang on about it, but do amazing artwork like you said. And then, yeah, you follow the music. So, yeah, that's good to know. I guess what was the other thing I was going to say about? 

Like you said, if you do like the music, then you are going to dig a little deeper. And, and I think it's worth mentioning here, if you are listening, you know, have a good EPK and have it reviewed by people. Make sure. But I think it's super important these days. Make sure that when someone types your name into Google your artist name, you are at the top. You know, even if you run a small like Google AdWords campaign, which is sponsored, at least you want to have people that when they click on that, it just goes to your, you know, your EPK, goes about you people can find out about you more or even just, you know, typing your artist name followed by music. You want to make sure you're at the top because yeah, artwork looks cool. I like the music. Google you. Winning. What challenges do you find artists face in today's DIY climate, where there seems to be so many platforms and tools that promise to promote an artist's music to the masses?

NA: You know, I'm a big believer in trying out things. And for me, it's been one of the most important ways of unlocking growth for my company. I try different outlets. I try paid ads on Google. I try paid ads on social platforms and one works better, one works worse. Then I think for musicians it's very similar. There are loads of platforms, as you said, and there is loads of competition in terms of new music. So you need to be really methodical in how you release music and create like proper strategy. And I'm sorry that I'm using like big words like that going that like, right to reach those days and then see what works. You know, maybe it does wonders for you or maybe it's not the right person for your music.

It could be that I don't think there is one solution that fit everyone, and this is something that people in general tend to forget. You know, it's not one size fits all for anything. Every song, every musician could find his niche, and you need to align your expectations accordingly and you need to optimize accordingly.

So I think for musicians, what they would recommend in terms of the challenges is just try out different things. I don't mean like build all your money on that. Try to find something that fit like your budget, try it out, analyze it if it works. Try it again and like constantly upgrade the umbrella of services you're using when you're releasing a new set.

NS: Yeah. So I've got a question for you. Would you as an artist with a single to promote and they've got a list of platforms I've got say, you know, they've got your platform, they've got SubmitHub, they've got Playlist Push. They're going to use Omari’s platform. So they've got these different services. Now you talk about monitoring, you know their results. Would you, would you suggest somebody look like does each one of those platforms one at a time? So like, say three weeks on, three weeks on for each one or do them all at once. What what would you recommend doing in that situation?

NA: This is a great question. And this you can take two approaches here, because if we just look at music streaming platforms, sometimes if you release the music on the first and you unlock every potential playlist on the third, it would be very good for you. You could be picked up by algorithmic playlists, main creators or listeners on these platforms. So in that sense, I think it's really cool using those platforms as one, but I would also suggest that you want to make an impact on the first month of the release or the first two months of their release. So maybe just divided into two blocks of services you're using, kind of a different approach.

NS: There are kind of somewhere in between because, you know, when we're just discussing here, I was thinking, you know, because at The Label Machine, you know, we talk about the different types of platforms you can use. There's, you know, obviously set up a Facebook and Instagram marketing campaign and the kind of, you know, what is your artist to do.
And I was just thinking, you know, what would make sense, especially if you are, you know, you're at the start of your career or even, you know, you've got a new song and you want to maximize, I think what you said your umbrella, which is a great which is a great analogy of you know, covering lots of areas is you know, in an ideal world, you almost do want to just have a list of every single platform and you want to allocate a budget to each one of those and just work through every single one. And then you kind of I guess you're covering all your bases, so. So I guess what you're, what you're saying is, let's say you've got 12 platforms, you're saying break them up into two segments. You know, maybe it, maybe a chunk, maybe eight at the beginning and four at the end. So there's a bit of front loading. Yeah, I think that's a great idea. I think I'm going to now create a little mini promo course around that, I think that's a great idea. Yeah. All right. Stoked. Cheers, bro.

NA: No, definitely. I think like you really hit the nail on the head on this one. You know, if we lived in a perfect world that no one was afraid of spreadsheets, I would write it down all the proper channels, break down my budget and start putting it like, in the timetable. So definitely. Definitely.

NS: And then you can measure the results. And then, you know, you do that for three, for three singles, and you're going to start seeing, you know, what, out of those 12, these six really outperform the others. And so you just focus your budget there.

NA: There definitely is, you know, as you said, like independent musicians don't have a big budget so they need to get the most out of every buck. And you maybe will see that one platform provides you more monthly listener, but the other provide more followers that are engaged on your social platform. It's also important to understand how to it's, it's funny perhaps what I'm going to say, but how to own your audience because a listener is something that could be really far away from you, right? It could only reside on Spotify and it could never be converted into something that is more meaningful, like buying merch or going to your live show or going to your digital Q&A. So you don't need only to measure it by monthly listeners. You need to find ways to measure like listener-to-fan ratio.

NS: I think that when you say fan, when you say listener, I think someone who's maybe added me to a couple of their personal playlists on Spotify. Right, or Apple Music. Right? That's the listener. I say fan is someone I have the email address and they and they open up my email addresses. And I think the challenge these days, which, which is different from ten years ago, is converting is getting that email address right because you got an email address and you might even know where they're based. You can send them an email to go buy your merch, to go buy your album, to listen to something on YouTube or to or to buy a ticket to it, to a gig. It's more, I think it's more challenging now to get that email address ten years ago, you know, you know, you could just give away the download right into your email address to download the track. But you know, for club music that still works. But for the more you know a mainstream listener that's using Spotify, no one downloads anything anymore, right?

So how, you know, what what are you what are you going to offer for free to get that email address? And I think that's that's a bit of a challenge. I think small what I'm focusing on this year is smaller merch packs. So you know, something where you can, you know, buy something for less than $5 and get something in the post, you know, whether or not that's, you know, like a little keychain or something. Because by doing that, a), you know, making a little bit of money, but B), you're getting that email address and securing that person as a fan. And, you know, with things like Spotify being able to incorporate your merch page on your Spotify profile, I think that's a direct link to be able to, you know, convert somebody there. Have you got any ideas on- I'd be interested to know on sort of how you can convert the listener to the fan.

NA: This has been like one of the biggest challenge in MySphera and actually and we are working on a new product in the MySphera umbrella, we call it MySphera Spins, it's still in the works. It really, it's really like maybe it's right on the edge now, but the goal of this product is to combine music and gamification in order for you as a musician just to do what you set, in order for you to grab that email, to own the potential fan and just to put them inside your mailing list, like creating this awesome solution for you from the moment someone reached out and found your content to capturing him as a viable fan and having his email.

Definitely one of the biggest challenges we've seen, you know, trying to explain musicians how to do it. So we thought, “Oh, there is a gap here, so maybe we can create something new that will help them,” it's… for me, you said something really cool. It's all about creating this additional layer of value.

If someone is going to search your Instagram page or is going to search you on Google and they will see your Instagram page, and in your LinkedIn bio, you will say, “be the first to get my pack of stickers.” I don't know. It's something small and it's cool. And I used to collect like already stickers when I was younger. I really loved it and I would put my email and address just to get this back sticker.

You know, as you said, something really small. The friction is so low and the value you can get as a musician from doing that. It's so high and so impactful like and I don't want to go again Spotify although, I love it, I use them to listen to music all the time, but even though that I can add my merch selling option it's still on Spotify and I really love like hedging my risk. And if I have like a newsletter or like a website or somewhere that I know that my audience is in, in a way that I communicate to them directly, I would always be happier.

"I think for us, it's like removing the level of friction and sometimes musicians – and I bet you know that – do a bad job doing EPK’s. And their EPK’s could be why they will not be picked up. And if the EPK was gone and I pressed play, I would be like, “damn, this is great. I love it.” So we try to look at it from there, reducing friction."


NS: So long as it sits on it's simple, you know, I think email or, you know, even an email newsletter I think is still really, really the most… yeah, really the most powerful these days. Yeah. Great. So what's, what rookie mistakes and common problems do you see over and over again that new or early career artists make?

NA: I think you said one of them: doing like amateur work on the cover art and they think the other side of it is not doing proper mastering and like not having even the volume adjusted for a release before they release it to music streaming platform. Always makes a master. This is like something we often say the musician, you know, you have solutions that are not breaking the band nowadays. Just try to make things sound this professionally possible and this is the biggest challenge when you see music that is submitted to us and is not professionally done, you know, it makes everything so much harder.

NS: Hmm. Do you sometimes have to sort of say, look, I can hear the music's good and there's some good ideas, but do I need to you like I need you to go back and kind of make this more professional?

NA: I think that is the big problem in that aspect, is we receive music that is already released. So it's already in music streaming platforms, so like, you know, we try to create like blog posts, or interviews or directly communicating with musicians. We hear something that is cool or we see that tastemakers like it but don't feature it. You know, they can just like their vibe, but not necessarily think it's the right thing to share. And if we see like these kinds of metrics, we try to understand why. And sometimes it's that reason, you know, that your ideas are good, but the execution is 80%. They're not 100%.

NS: Hmm. All right. That's awesome. Now, I ask everybody this. How would you run a typical single release with a six-week lead time? Like, and when I say run a campaign, you know, in an ideal world across marketing and PR from that lens, how are we going to promote that with a six-week lead time? What would you do in those six weeks?

NA: And first and foremost, I will go into my data and see who my listeners are. I will try to understand my listeners. Then I will run a few campaigns with snippets on things like social media platforms, with a link for a pre save, I will definitely have a pre save on my LinkedIn bio as well. I think it's all about creating the right hype and something cool that not enough people are doing is actually partnering up for a giveaway and maybe find another musician that's releasing something.

Maybe talk to your local record store or someone who's telling you that commitment for the music production and just reach out and ask them,”Hey, are you willing to partner up in order to have me promote my release? I would put on the funding just happy with perhaps with like a small reward or something like that.” And that's definitely something I would try out.

NS: And just very, just very quickly on that point. So to go into details, would that be something like you know, reaching out to, you know, let's say you use a, let's say you use a new Mac mixer or something, you'd reach out to the company and you say, “hey, I use your equipment all the time here. Here I am in my live streams using it. If you help me promote this, can I get a 10% discount of anybody who goes and buy something from your store?” Is that what you sort of talking about or...

NA: I'm I think it's the combination of dream big and be realistic. You know, I wouldn't go to Native Instruments if they used Maschine, they would, they would be like, “Okay, sweetheart, I think come back, come back when you're bigger.” Yeah. But you know, it's always nice to aim for the fences in a sense, you know, go big and try it out.

But also, like, if you have like an online retailer that you bought like plug ins from or, I don't know, rent all your equipment from just saying, “Hey, I'm going to promote my release and I will promote you in it. Will you be able to provide some kind of a reward for the people who will participate in the gear in their giveaway?”

NS: Gotcha. So, yeah, I hear what you're saying. Approach someone that's of a similar level. And you're right. And independent software company with a small team, they're looking to try and grow their audience. They're more likely to go, Hey, that's cool. Let's do something together. Okay, cool, man. I just yeah, I just wanted to pick up on that. So we're in a six-week, going back to we're talking.

NA: And then search for all the platforms that are similar to us. But the music before it's released, think Hypeddit and I think SubmitHub as well. And you can send music before it's released and start getting like blog posts, articles, everything like building that hype. In the meanwhile on your socials, use the schedule or like buffer or retweet and just create different narratives for each story. So let's say six weeks prior to the release, you talk about the studio time, r~un a few video, share stories, create a reel, like try to build that hype through content and have it all sorted out. And of course once it's released and head over to MySphera.

NS: Yeah, definitely. Oh, that's awesome. I think there's some really good ideas in there. Thanks for sharing that with us. So I'm going to just jump now, just watching the time. Okay. So I'm going to jump into some music trend questions. So this doesn't, you know, this is just sort of your general view on the sort of industry at the moment. If you've got some insight with record sales, where are you finding royalties are coming across, coming from mostly these days? 2021-22 from major platforms, you know, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, where you finding it's coming from?

NA: You know, I think I read a really interesting article on the rise of catalog in comparison to new music. And I think it's mind blowing like 82% of the listeners go to like music that is…

NS: Catalog. Yeah.

NA: Yeah. A year and a half before you use it that way so I think musicians should really focus on not only releasing new music but really grooming their back catalog. And if you have something that works, try and continually expose it and continually expand it. So I believe music streaming is definitely a great channel for a steady income. It's not the highest per play, but it's a nice place to meet new fans and don't only focus on new music. I think it's something that we learned, I think is people who are handling growth as well. We know that you need to always be in your back catalog. You always need to go to your blog post, an article every place would provide you a return on investment and you know, in terms of the ecosystem, you see loads of platforms trying to make it accessible, like the world of cryptocurrencies for musicians, I think it's really interesting and it's very similar to what we've seen like in the previous crypto boom with all their IPO if you remember that people were doing this initial coin offerings and it's somewhat of the Wild West at the moment and it's getting more and more structured.

So keep a close eye. Maybe we'll find a new platform that will pick up and if you can utilize it in the music, you know.

NS: I yeah, just to briefly touch on NFT is, you know, going back to when we're talking about how you can turn a listener into a fan and with, you know, downloading music now is becoming less relevant to the mainstream listener. However, I think the opportunity around an NFT and saying, hey, I'm going to do an airdrop of I've created a, you know, like a an NFT of the artwork say it's you know, it's like a gif moving of the, of the album artwork or something and I've just got a thousand of these that an airdrop click here and I will send them to you but you have a gated thing where you say enter your email address and your wallet and then we will send this over to you. And I think that might be the next wave of being able to connect with somebody where they get something in value of return. You know, the NFT that you've created and you get something as well. You know, you get the email address and a stronger connection to them to keep those communication channels open. And I, I think that's where it's going to go in the next few years, which is great because, you know, there is that gap of how you can kind of build up a stronger relationship. So yeah, I do agree with you on that.

I normally ask Spotify, what have you been finding works for getting on Spotify playlists? But I think as that's what your whole company does, I think we have our whole podcast has been talking about that already. And again, I often ask about HubSpot, but I think we've covered that. Blogs. Do you think they're still relevant, music blogs?

NA: Definitely, definitely. Although we don't focus on them and we understand that powerhouses are still powerhouses. You know, there are a lot of people are still using different tools to discover music. And besides that, from a strictly SEO standpoint, as you said, it's very important to be number one when it comes to people searching you as a musician. Get those backlinks. You know, backlinks are one of the most important pillars of SEO strategy. So having those backlinks would definitely be substantial for you, especially if you have like a funny name like Pizza Hut Producer. You need to add those backlinks to Pizza Hut. Yeah.

NS: So yeah, yeah. I mean, I yeah, I agree. And I think it's still you know, if someone does Google you and then you see pages and pages of people talking about you, you're like, oh, well, they're obviously doing something. So yeah, I agree that, that was good insight on that. Paid advertising. You know, personally, if you've got your own project or you working with somebody or any your teams do you use it? Do you know people that use it, any works, any failures?

NA: I used it, I failed with it, I succeeded with it. It’s all about doing your homework. It's all about keeping a close eye on it, understanding where you're aiming and constantly optimizing it. It's not magic, and it could escalate very quickly if you're not well oriented in what you're aiming to do. You know those. Yeah, they it's what this company does, right? It's the job. They you give them a budget and they use the budget for generating clicks or actions. I don't know. And you need to be really, really, really focused on everything. So if you're doing your first ad campaign on any of these platforms, do it after you've done some substantial research, you know who you're targeting, you know how you're measuring success with a few guys, you know…

NS: Join The Label Machine! I've got lots of courses on this.

NA: Definitely! Join The Label Machine. Read the guide.

NS: Are you, do you, do you use it at all to promote MySphera?

NA: Well, I'm sorry I didn't hear you.

NS: Do you have you used any paid advertising to promote your platform?

NA: Yeah, we used Reddit. We used Twitter, Instagram, we used Google ads, we use Facebook ads.

NS: Oh, interest. Just on a personal note, because we're about to on another project I'm doing about to do Twitter. Have you found Twitter marketing? Does it? Yeah. What's your, what's your feelings on it?

NA: I feel it's better than Facebook, but I think it's worse than Instagram for me. Like Instagram, then to outperform, then Twitter and Facebook.

NS: So you order is Instagram, Twitter, Facebook as far as.

NA: Reddit is like yeah, people you know, sometimes with the media, sometimes it's “oh my God, what's going on?”

NS: I have I yeah, I've I've done some campaigns and Reddit and it was very difficult. I am. Yeah, I you're right. I agree. It's at the bottom at the moment. But, you know, if you've got the budget and you want to cover all your bases, it's worth doing yeah. I mean, I guess I was going to say the next one thing is moving on from paid advertising. But, you know, we're still talking about the platforms with social media, which platforms are you finding a getting the best response in 2021 across YouTube, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok as far as engagement.

NA: You know I think I, I don't want to be so repetitive in terms of like there are a lot of metrics that are evident for everyone. You know that TikTok is constantly growing and you know that Facebook is dropping in terms of engagement. So I can just take personally as someone who deals with a lot of content, I really love discovering things on YouTube. I think YouTube is really powerful for creating long sessions between a creator and fan; it's a great place for you to get like longform content. I think Instagram Reels is nice. It's gaining a lot of traction as it's a new feature, so definitely use it and then… be on TikTok, I know that if you're as old as me, it feels kind of weird, but do it. For yourself.

NS: I agree. I mean, even personally, I, I, you know, as The Label Machine, I joined Tik Tok the end of last year and I've got one of my team members, you know, they go through and help curate what I'm going to kind of talk about. And, you know, three, four hundred people are watching the videos, which is great. And then we recycle the content onto Reels. And some of them, you know, we've had like the one just before the last reel had seven and a half thousand plays, you know, which was amazing because we've got just over 1000 followers on Instagram. You know, it's, it's not a very big channel for us. So yeah, I have to say TikTok and Reels for us, just yeah, agreeing with what you're saying are the other big ones. So yeah I think we're coming up for a wrap. Um, I guess the next thing is I wanted to ask where can we find you? What's the… I know there will be a link, but what's the website address?

NA: So it’s www.mysphera.co - we put the “M” in “MySphera” instead and then my_sphera on Instagram and Twitter.

NS: Awesome. And I believe we spoke at the beginning, there is if you are a, if you are listening we have got a special there will be a link underneath that will give you a discount – a discount on already what is ridiculous a good price for MySphera about there will be a link, we can't, we can't remember what the percentages can, we're not sure if it's a 10% discount or 15% but there is a, there is a discount link that will be available so you can click through and try MySphera. Thank you Nimrod so much for being on here. It was awesome speaking to you. I know you're another music fan. You love marketing and connecting musicians much like me. So yeah, I really enjoyed this.

NA: Same here. Man. Hopefully we can do it a lot and I can't wait to see what 2022 will bring.

NS: Yeah awesome. And thank you.

NA: Ciao, man.

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