On Launching A Simple Music Catalog Management App For Artists And Producers
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey! My name is Karan Beghi, and I’m the founder of Musicspace.io - A simple music catalog management platform for music artists and producers that I launched about two months ago!
Our flagship service is music catalog management. Essentially, a simple way for music artists and producers to easily store, track and manage every aspect of their music catalog. Artists are able to store in-depth metadata information all within their own dashboard, including:
- Track files (WAV & MP3’s)
- Song Titles
- Album Cover Art’s
- Collaborator Information
- Music Publishing Numbers and Song ownership information
- Genres & Moods
- Liner Notes
- Milestones (to track meaningful moments throughout their careers)
- ISRC codes
- And Quick links to various digital platforms.
The beauty of Musicspace is that we cater to independent and non-independent artists of all sizes. Whether you’re a new artist with a few songs in your catalog, or an artist with 20,000+ songs in your catalog, we have plans to handle it all. Right now, our core audience is independent artists looking to centralize/organize their most valuable asset: Their music catalog.
Since launching entirely bootstrapped by myself and my developer, we’ve reached 100 users in just under 2-months, growing at around 1-2 new artists per day. Helped mostly by a music marketing Instagram page I own that reaches around 60,000 musicians per week.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always loved talking about my personal journey, especially about how my first startup failed because It scaled too fast when I was 18, after leaving school to pursue growing it. Even after my first failure, I knew I just couldn’t be told what to do without it sparking my creativity. I love working in teams and working on tasks, but just not the aspect of someone telling me what to do and when. Thankfully, I’ve since grown in terms of my business acumen, and enjoy learning from so many talented and hardworking entrepreneurs online who give me so much hope and inspiration for my personal and business life.
It took about 2-3 failed project ideas before launching Avora Now & Musicspace. Avora Now is an invite-only music distribution platform I launched back in 2018 for artists and producers. If you’re familiar with music distribution income, you’d know that it takes a musician about 3-4 months before they receive their first payment for a song they’ve released, which led me to a new dilemma --- How on earth would I be able to survive long term if it took 3-4 months before an artist makes money from our platform? Bear in mind, Avora only makes money when our artists do, using a revenue share model. Fast-forward a year, I had grown Avora’s Instagram page to thousands of followers reaching tens of thousands of engaged musicians each week. But the same issue remained once again - We just weren’t making anything yet. In fact, I was hustling to make money selling album cover art designs on Fiverr.com, doing one-to-one Instagram consultations, selling promotional slots on my Spotify playlist, Instagram shoutouts, money from my partner and money from my parents. I owe it all to my loved ones who stood by me throughout it all.
So then it hit me hard…. Why don’t I create a new platform that could benefit users instantly, instead of having to wait 3-4 months for them to enjoy the real value? -- In came Musicspace.
I came up with the idea for Musicspace in September 2019 when I asked an artist I worked with, “Can you send me the lyrics for your song?”, to which he replied in a voice note saying, “I never wrote them down… I’ll re-write them later and send them to you”. This spurred me to ask others how they managed their music catalog metadata (information related to their songs). To my surprise, I found out people were using everything from Word documents to store their information (in a horrible format), to having lyrics and broken pieces of information stored in the notes app on their phones. What happened if their information wasn’t backed up and their phone broke? Hmmm…. This was my calling.
I conducted the quickest product-market fit questionnaire ever to my audience of thousands of followers, asking if a simple catalog platform would be valuable to them, of which 90%+ responded saying “yes”. Additionally, I asked how many people actually stored any of their track metadata, to which 50%+ responded with “No”. I knew I had to act fast.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
This part was equally a nightmare and a blessing rolled into one. As a non-technical founder, I knew I needed someone with some expertise to help me create this platform. Since it was pretty much data-entry and storage, I didn’t think it’d be that hard.
Note to self… Development isn’t easy and Developers are so incredibly hard-working and intelligent.
I managed to reconnect with a friend of mine who had done work for me on my first start-up. Thankfully, he had some time to work on Musicspace with me. We got a Development contract signed and he began work. Little did I know that the technicalities of running a website from scratch came with much hassle and many intricacies. From bugs to the overall implementation of certain features, it was just a lot of work. Keep in mind, I had nothing to pay my friend, and had agreed on paying him a monthly sales commission…. Once we started selling. With issues in the development of Musicspace and no more free time for my friend to spend on himself, it quickly took a toll on his mental health, and by late October we had mutually agreed to part ways. We are still the best of friends and he has gone on to achieve so much! I truly do wish him the best. He was so kind as to even package the code and processes so that I could find a new Developer in the coming days.
On the day of my friend leaving the project, I remember feeling as everything was all about to crumble. I remembered the failed projects I had worked on in the past and thought this was about to be yet another. But in that old entrepreneurial spirit, I pushed on and headed to Twitter, Upwork.com, and IndieHackers to find potential developers. I had a ton of responses, but 100% of them bailed on me due to either personal reasons, or the fact that they thought it just wouldn’t be valuable to them in terms of payment (a monthly % of our sales - Which was $0 at the time). But……. There was one. One person reached out to me on Twitter and said he could start work in the next few days. Call me insane, but I sent him over a contract and we got to work. Never in a million years did I think myself and my new Lead Developer, Udit, who I had known through a Twitter DM for minutes, would become such a great friend and business partner.
We launched our MVP In December of 2019, and have since gone on to implement details and changes that have further allowed us to provide as much value to our users.
Our progress has been incredibly fast, going from a drawing back in October 2019 here:
To our current landing page here:
Describe the process of launching the business.
With the help of building a fairly large Instagram account, I knew we’d get our first few users in the door through that channel alone. However, I also knew I needed a little time to create a simple strategy before our launch. There are two lessons I learned in this process:
Take the time you have for your current strategy and double it (as long as it’s not 6+ months depending on the project).
Try to sell what the product DOES for the person, not only what the product is direct. For example, Uber sells “time”, “Convenience” and “Safety”, not just a Taxi service.
As I knew my Instagram audience read my captions diligently, I added plugs of Musicspace in every caption about 30-days before our launch. The thing about me is that I’m incredibly fast-paced. A little too fast at times. I did the complete opposite of the points I suggested above by not doubling the pre-launch promotional period and trying to sell only what our product was, that’s it. Here are the Instagram plugs as an example:
In addition to the caption plugs, I created a blog post explaining how artists could manage their music catalog (plugging us there, too), and having a small music marketing blog post about us, too. It didn’t drive much traffic or attention, but it was enough to get into a few people’s minds, which was fine with me. I didn’t want to stress myself about having an “IPO-like” launch day. I’m a small-time entrepreneur with a product that’s about to launch. Why on earth would I expect such success overnight? I love the long game. The above managed to get us our first 10-20 users within the first week or so after launching! Success!
As previously mentioned, Musicspace was made from scratch. I emphasize this so much because my last projects were pre-made using licensed software, so my development involvement was zero. My Lead Developer spent day and night coding, coding and a little more coding until we were finally able to launch back in December.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since launching what’s worked well has been our organic social reach. I’m a big-time fan of Gary Vaynerchuk and so through building Avora’s Instagram page, I knew to head into Musicspace that I could leverage the same principles: Patience and deep relationship building.
I want to stress that educational content as a marketing channel is so so vital. It’s content that’s evergreen, so users can gain value from it now or in a hundred years. Our Instagram content strategy for Musicspace was simple. Post on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and have a mix of inspirational quotes with detailed captions, followed by a fact or informative post about the music industry. So one day is inspiring someone, the next day we’re educating them. We also threw in the odd testimonial (matching out the theme) as social proof to show potential users we’re awesome! Haha, :D Here’s how our feed looks on Instagram:
Cold Email Outreach:
In addition to creating social media content, I knew I had to find another way of bringing in users, so I combined Instagram and cold email outreach, with a twist.
My strategy here was fairly simple:
- Search Instagram for the hashtag “#IndependentArtist”
- Find their contact emails and reach out to them.
I used a cold-email sales company called Lemlist.com - It’s a great tool and I highly advise it. It allows you to personalize cold emails by adding custom variables. So not only would I reach out to an artist, but I’d listen to their music and personalize each email to give them feedback/praise. As a lover of music, writing personalized responses was super fun!
I used a sequence of three emails over 3-6 days. The first would be my usual outreach, followed by a “Follow-up” email, and then a “Final email” email. People get busy, so make sure you’re following up! Here’s my first outreach email, I’ve broken it down too:
- Shows that I appreciate their time, and briefly introduces myself.
- I explain in two sentences about my start-up, what we offer with a clickable link.
- I’m honest about my intentions - I need their help + I add a “Call To Action” question.
- I provide a link to the social proof of our testimonials!
- I add a “P.S” - With some personal engagement after checking out their Instagram page!
By using this specific format, I’ve had open rates of 80%+ (which you can track within Lemlist).
I got the inspiration for this format from Marketingexamples.com - If you’re an entrepreneur, this platform is incredibly valuable!
As entrepreneurs, long hours of working are the norm for us. Our idea of chilling is responding to emails or cracking on with a project. But it’s important to disconnect from time-to-time. Spend moments with friends or family.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
January was our first profitable month, then we made a small loss in February! We began making generating enough revenue to cover our immediate expenses such as servers, email marketing, and cloud storage costs. Of course, as a small start-up, our expenses are irrespective of salaries. I am not paying myself a thing from this project just yet, but I am perfectly fine with that!
We’re currently seeing around 1,500 unique visitors on our site each month, and are currently at 101 users worldwide.
After reaching 100 users, we also launched our newest product, which is in addition to catalog management, called “ Milestones ” - Milestones allows artists and producers to track their achievements, goals, and milestones that are meaningful to them, all from within their dashboard, see below:
At the moment, it’s just me and my Lead Developer working on Musicspace. We’ve done our best to automate our customer support as best as possible to ensure we can spend as much time on adding features and refining the customer experience further, however, I still reply to users as fast as possible to understand how we can benefit them as much as possible. In addition, I also spend a bulk of my time on content creation. I’ve scheduled almost 4 months of content for our Instagram page, and looking to grow our revenues so I can begin investing a little money into some paid advertising on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
In terms of expansion, we’ve received a few offers for partnerships with one of the largest record labels in the world, and from one of the largest music distribution platforms in the world, too. Both of which we’re exploring, and thinking of executing over time as to not scale too fast and become uncontrollable. We’re also looking to expand into Europe by Q3/Q4 (2020) with supported languages, and then move into Asia shortly after, too.
We hope to break 1,000 users this year, and with our potential partnership, this could be something we achieve over the next few months. As for our long term goal, we have less of a metric focused mission, but more so a usage-based one. We want our platform to be an artist’s “space” for all things Music-related, hence our name, “Music” + “Space”.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Most definitely. There are a few main things I’ve learned that I really hope can inspire people.
You Either Win Or You Learn:
When starting my first company, I had never come into earning or being able to pay myself 5-figures per month before. I was 18-years-old, and earning more than my teachers, parents, and peers. After my business failing, I went into terrible debt, had no idea of the taxes I had to pay and fell into severe depression. After years of working on myself mentally, I came to realize you never lose in life, but you either win or learn. This perspective will change everything for you. Embrace it.
Understand Your Subconscious Mind:
Of the most important lessons I’ve learned, the greatest was when I began studying the subconscious mind. As human beings, we have no idea how much childhood and subconscious programming affect our lives. It affects the way we spend money, the relationships we have, and why we procrastinate or handle stress. I recommend meditation and practicing self-awareness as a way to separate yourself from the person you think you are, to then understand who you truly are. You’ll notice your triggers slowly begin to fade, and the ability to think clearly and proactively instead of reactively. Some great teachers are Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Bruce Lipton and “The holistic psychologist” on Instagram.
Less Networking. Build Friendships:
In business, we have such a transaction-based ethos on getting to know people. Don’t get me wrong though, networking explicitly for a transactional relationship happens, and isn’t wrong, but I always recommend treating people as…. People. Provide value where possible, without the expectation of anything in return. People will remember you. The actual you. Think instead of building a friendship with someone.
It’s A Numbers Game, So Work Hard And Be Disciplined:
I discovered the beauty of compound interest from a blog post about Warren Buffet. I saw how his wealth progressively grew thanks to the beauty of reinvestment and compound interest. The same applies to entrepreneurship. I contact 30 people daily to use Musicspace, and post to our Instagram 3 times per week. That works out to 10,000+ people I contact per year, and 144 posts a year that reach 100-300 people each. At some point, someone is bound to find you and use your service. Just keep it going. The beauty is that people tell people. And it won’t be you working at 110% function forever. But be as disciplined as you can.
Learn An Additional Skill:
After dropping out of school, I realized just how hard it is for us entrepreneurs without formal educational accolades to get a job or side-hustle. Thankfully, I knew how to use Photoshop and understood the ins and outs of Social media by growing my own online presence for my brand. Even till now, I don’t have a job, and Musicspace doesn’t make enough yet to pay me, so I reached out to a ton of brands to help manage their I.G pages. I now run the Instagram page for Gumroad, a super cool platform for creators! This helps me fund my start-up.
Love Is Free, So Don’t Be Possessive:
A saying I took from a “Kota The Friend” song I heard. You’re probably wondering, “What does love have to do with business?” - And honestly, I feel that it means everything. Money isn’t why you respond to emails daily or connect with clients daily. You do it for the love of a future reality that isn’t present just yet. You do it for the joy you see in your customers’ lives. Every good thing stems from love. Your love for your business helps your employees feed their families. Those families then raise healthy children that go to school and become great. And it all stemmed from YOUR LOVE of creating, educating and supporting your users. Kindness is love, trusting is love, hard work is love. It may not seem like it now, but when you reflect deeply on the ripple effect you create through your passion, you notice that love is everything.
Enjoy Moments - It’s Not All About Work:
As entrepreneurs, long hours of working are the norm for us. Our idea of chilling is responding to emails or cracking on with a project. But it’s important to disconnect from time-to-time. Spend moments with friends or family. Embrace your partner and talk about your passions and listen to theirs, too. Speak about your visions and mention the good and bad. Business doesn’t just mean working all the time, so take moments to slow down. Enjoy that Netflix movie. :)
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Here’s our entire stack:
- Payment Processing: Stripe
- Cloud Storage: Wasabi
- Email Marketing/Transactional Emails: Sendgrid
- Project Management: Notion
- Team Communication: Slack
- Servers: DigitalOcean
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The 15 Invaluable Laws Of Growth - Book by John C. Maxwell
This book was pivotal in my growth both as a person and businessman. It helped me understand that even in success, we never stop growing. This book also helped instill in me discipline and mental fortitude.
The Gary Vee Show - Podcast By Gary Vaynerchuk
If people listen to Gary Vee, he tries to get through to you on the importance of discipline and hard work. He hates being called a “motivational speaker” as he’s referred to quite often. You’ll pick up a ton of insights into how to just be a human being and connect with people genuinely, and that success is a long long road.
These are my two go-to’s!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Go back to my point about “Understand your subconscious mind”. When you learn about your subconscious and self-limiting factors, you will experience incredible growth beyond your comprehension.
Secondly, be incredibly disciplined. And be the BEST you can be. I recently found out that one season Kobe Bryant rolled his ankle 10 times. He recovered each time but knew he needed to make his ankles stronger. So he took up tap-dancing and ballet. He was SO determined to be the best at his game that he put his pride away to study something most seem “too feminine for a man to do”. Just do the work.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Currently, we’re not looking to hire anyone. But if we do, you can follow us on Twitter @Musicspace_io for updates.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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