Published March 08, 2022
Do you think your music should sound better?
In this episode:
Marc's career path and highlights
At what stage in a music career is it advisable to hire a professional promotion company?
How to get in contact with the right persons at TV / radio stations
Getting music onto the radio
Getting music into playlists
Creation, Promotion, Discovery
Why Marc founded Byta.com and what's unique about it
File safety, and things that can go wrong with your files
Marc's take on internet/streaming audio resolution
Marc's predictions for the next 2 years of the music industry
What traits and work ethics do successful musicians have in common?
It would mean the world to me if you'd consider giving this podcast a 5-star review. Thank you!
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Contact the podcast host Yarn at mixartist.com.au
Podcast artwork by Tom 'Chubbs' Boundy
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Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.
Transcript (auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error):
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: This is the production talk podcast episode 33.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Thank you for tuning in again, to the next episode of the Production Talk Podcast. And before we begin this episode, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land that the following conversation was recorded on. That's the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation, and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Also before we head into, uh, the interview today, I would like to just give a quick shout out. Uh, if you had a chance to listen to last week's episode, you may be aware that we are dealing with flood crisis in the air. And, uh, if you can please go to episode 32 that's last week's episode. And in the show notes, there are a couple of links.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If you feel like helping them, please click one of the links and, uh, any donations, any support is welcome in the local community. Good. Okay. But today, um, we would like to talk about something else. Um, I was very grateful to having been introduced to Marc Brown founder and CEO of BYTA.com, uh, which I incorrectly pronounced in the interview because it's spelt with a Y. My apologies.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Not only is BYTA.com an interesting product for musicians, but Marc also has an extensive background in music, marketing, and promotion. So that's why I am very grateful to find some time with Marc today. Um, let me cut the short, let's go straight to the good stuff. Here is my interview with Mr. Marc Brown of beta. With me today is Marc Brown, founder and CEO of BYTA.com. And, uh, Marc, you are joining us from Stockholm. Is that correct?
Marc Brown: Yes, indeed. Yeah. So I'm, I'm about how I say going about nine or 10 hours behind you over there. And I.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's about that? Yes. And for you, it must be winter.
Marc Brown: Yeah. Uh, yeah. Yeah, there's been a bit of snow, but I, um, I was away. I was traveling and I came back and there wasn't, there's no snow left, but we've had a fair amount.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You had a fair amount? Well, for us in Australia, it's summer, But it's been rainy summer so far. So I'm shivering here. It's only 26 degrees, quite
Marc Brown: But for the audience he's sitting, we've got video on and I can see he's wearing a Hawaiian shirt, so it's really not that bad. So he doesn't need any sympathy.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's right. That's right. This is probably the longest distance interview I've done so far. I had an interview with a Liverpool and I think Stockholm is just a little bit further from, from us here. So that's a little record for this podcast as well.
Marc Brown: Maybe it could be the same distance because we're a little
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh yeah.
Marc Brown: up the than, than the UK is further east, but we're higher up. So it's about the same, but I used to live in the UK. So maybe it's, we're tied. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Look at Marc, please tell us a bit about yourself, your history, and why, why did you choose to pursue a career in music?
Marc Brown: So as you introduced me, my name's Marc, um, I'm the founder of a platform for sending and receiving digital audio called BYTA.com. And, uh, now it's an interesting question about like, why I chose music, because I don't really know. I think a lot of people will agree. A lot of listeners will breathe it, you don't really choose these kinds of things.
Marc Brown: So I, I grew up in this accent. It's Canadian, it's not American. So I grew up in Canada and I was really into music from a very young age. And, you know, I just got into loads of band I'm 47. So eighties bands when I was really young. And then I started going to gigs, as you do. And then I moved from one city to another in Canada.
Marc Brown: And when I was there, I was in high school and I'm like, why doesn't this city get as many good bands as touring as where I lived before. And I started having all these questions about why is it this way? Why like, why, why? And so I didn't know what a tour was like touring or routing or. Primary markets or secondary markets or tertiary markets, you know, the way people prioritize, which cities bands play it.
Marc Brown: And so then I went to university on the east coast of Canada. So I had sort of moved, lived in the middle of Canada, moved out west Moody's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay.
Marc Brown: there that I was in university. I like, I was going to more gigs. Like we, I lived in this really small town or we'd go into the bigger, bigger city, which was actually quite small, relatively.
Marc Brown: I don't want lots of band in the middle of the nineties. This city called Halifax was called the Seattle of the north. Lots of bands got signed to sub pop, the same label as Nirvana. And it was around then that I started to think like, it'd be cool to work in music. So I just liked music and I thought, Hey, I'm not a musician.
Marc Brown: Like I'm not going to be a producer. I'm not going to do those kinds of things, but I could totally. Help in some way. And so do you see what I mean? Like I never thought, oh, like, w you know, why did I choose music? Like, I like art and all that kind of stuff. That is just what I connected with very early on.
Marc Brown: And then when it came to working in and around music, it was, I just thought that was sort of the next step I university, I didn't at that time, I didn't like learning that way. I'm like, I'm desperate to get out and start doing. So I basically dropped to a university to start volunteering and an independent record label.
Marc Brown: So I don't think I chose anything. I sort of gravitated towards it or ended up doing it, but it came quite early. I think I was 19 or 20 when I started volunteering at that record label.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And, um, then you moved around, you moved to the UK and now you're in Scandinavia. So what, what made you leave Canada?
Marc Brown: Well, so I worked at this label for a handful of years and I did, this is sort of pre-internet or the internet was in its infancy. And so, um, I, you know, when we ran a festival and I toured with bands all over north America, and then, you know, that label wasn't able to put out as many records anymore. So I was thinking, oh, like, where should I, what should I do?
Marc Brown: And I thought, oh, well, maybe I can move to the states or maybe I can move to Toronto. But back then in the mid nineties, You couldn't get arrested if you were a Canadian band internationally, no one cared about Canadian bands. Like, uh, on like the way it is now. No, no, it's crazy. It's changed so much. Yeah.
Marc Brown: Yeah. It's changed so much. So I thought, okay, well I had just been over to Europe and I had just been to London. I thought, well, why don't I move to London? And again, it's sort of like, well, I just thought that sounds like a smart move. Um, so I moved to London in 1990. And we could talk about that in a bit, but then I moved to Sweden to Stockholm in 2016 and that was out right after sort of Brexit.
Marc Brown: And I thought, oh, like, you know, part of it is because Bita we're a distributed team. We don't have an office. So like, Jen, my co-founder lives in Australia, actually just outside Melbourne on the coast.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, yeah.
Marc Brown: She's like, I'm moving to, I moved. Yeah, I'm moving to Melbourne. She said, and I'm like, oh, this is a disaster.
Marc Brown: This is, you know, a handful of years ago. But she moved in, there was no problems and we did everything online and it was easy. And so I thought, well, if she moved, if she could move to Australia, I could move to Sweden. So that's, again, the reason I just decided to do that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic.
Marc Brown: been here for five years, plus.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Well, cool. Fantastic. Um, just to show us, or talk to us about it, some of your highlights of your career, what bands have you worked with and in what roles you mentioned a festival earlier, what were your
Marc Brown: Yeah. So a highlight is always the first job you get, you know, because it's, you, you don't think it's even possible. How can I be around something? I like all the time. So I worked at this small label in, uh, in house. And it was an artist run label. So again, mid nineties, how many artists drawn labels were there?
Marc Brown: Um, that was a real highlight and getting to tour all over north America. But then when I moved to London in 98, I worked at a record distributor for bet. And then I worked at creation records, which is, um, I don't know if anybody, anybody who's listening is going to know about it. That way, the guy who started this guy named Alan McGee, he signed away SIS and primal screen.
Marc Brown: And super free animals and teenage fan club. And it was basically one of the most important independent labels in UK history. And so I only worked there for a couple of years, the last couple of years. Um, but that was crazy to meet all those people and to, you know, people who have not only made good music, but have made good music or.
Marc Brown: A long period of time and like culturally relevant music in a way that is abnormal. Like, it doesn't happen that often it's, you know, and I think was crazy working there. And then after, um, creation, Alan McGee left and he started a new company called pop tones. And, uh, that was more of an artist. That was about to say artists focus label, but Alan has always been an artist focused person.
Marc Brown: So, but then I started doing, I that's when I started doing radio plugging radio promotion, um, where, you know, you try to get songs on the radio, just like you do for press. And it's quite important in the UK, even, even today with streaming, it's still important. And, um, the first band that sorta blew up there was this Swedish band called the high.
Marc Brown: And it was one of the first bands I did is as a radio plugger we, it was crazy. Um, and that went really well, like top 10 album, top five album. And that was a highlight because you're like, oh my God, like I played a part in having this go well, like, I can't believe that I'm I'm involved. Like it's crazy.
Marc Brown: So, and then, and then I left there and I started my own, uh, radio promotion, boutique radio and TV promotion. And, uh, like the highlights there. I, you know, I didn't, you know, millet millions, selling bands, number one records, uh, work with like Yoko Ono, Booker T uh, we did some TV. I love getting people on.
Marc Brown: There was this TV show in the UK called Juul later with Jools Holland, which was very like, they had all the best bands across a wide variety of genres, like five different artists a week. Okay. To get someone on that was super interesting. Like Booker T you know, who's famous for keyboard player. Like he had never been on it until I worked with him.
Marc Brown: So stuff like that, you just think, wow, like, how the hell did I end up in this situation? So it was, it was things like that, that I think that you just get to be there when things are happening and, and meeting people who have done exciting. Like I just see myself as a, a bit player in a much larger thing.
Marc Brown: So I like, so just to be a bit of a part, a part of that kind of stuff is pretty exciting.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Say, um, when it comes to promotion and, and, you know, getting songs to radio stations, uh, what advice would you have for musicians today? Should they hire a company or can musicians also. To a bit of that themselves, uh, at what stage in band's career, would it be advisable to actually hire a professional for promotion? Well, when do you know you're ready
Marc Brown: So. W well, okay, so, so this, this kind of question is very common. In fact, um, as I was saying, just before we started, like I was in London this week, I was doing talks at, uh, when I started, when I was young, there weren't any music schools there weren't schools that where you could go learn how things work.
Marc Brown: And I think that's really good now that they're all over the world, that you can learn the basics of how often. Parts go together where instead of sort of learning on the fly like I did, and I was in London and I was doing, I did four talks over a couple of days to students. And the one talk I did twice a couple of days ago is exactly about all this kind of stuff.
Marc Brown: What exactly what you're asking. And I think radio or press or anything like that, you know, learning when you need that kind of stuff is different for every.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, of course.
Marc Brown: it, is that the hard answer to here? So the way, what I discuss when I do talks about this, I specifically say it's like as an artist or an artist manager or anybody, you know, working to support ours, it's like, you need to think about here and there.
Marc Brown: So I'm here as an artist and I want to go. But the idea of here and there are unique for every artist. So when you say, when is the right time, it's like saying all artists are the same. And so that's a very, uh, that's a very hard thing for people to get round that there's not a straight path forward.
Marc Brown: Right. So what I like to say to people, I come from a DIY, do it yourself, background, that there are, I think you can do everything yourself initially and you should do in a sense. You know, it's easy to take. If you, if you have, I don't have a car, let alone a driver's license, but if you take a car to a mechanic, you don't know how the car works, you're relying on them.
Marc Brown: And
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's
Marc Brown: that's a good thing. You're hiring a professor, you're hiring a professional professionals are good, but there's nothing wrong with figuring things out a bit for yourself. And I find the biggest problem is that artists and people who are newer to working in the. Music ecosystem are, they don't have the confidence that they could do things themselves.
Marc Brown: And I, I also tell people when I do these talks that a lot of people actually want to hear from artists themselves, if you approach it properly. So the key is, you know, how do you get in touch with people? Like I, you know, reaching out to people like sending them emails, DM-ing them on? People like that. If it's sincere and you say, what you need is, Hey, I do this.
Marc Brown: I like you because of this. Like, if someone likes your podcast, they get in touch with you to say, Hey, I liked that episode. Can you give me advice on this? You talked about this, it's the same sort of aspects that you would have with friends or meeting new people. It's the same. You work the same way in music.
Marc Brown: And then when it comes to your question about when do you hire someone. It really depends on what you're doing. Like you could hire someone because you have no idea what you're doing in a certain area. Like that's an easy one. Well, I just don't know what I'm doing. I don't know anything about radio, but then that costs money.
Marc Brown: So you need to decide is if I do this, is it gonna, is it gonna get. Some results because it's not necessarily about all, about the money, but you want to make sure that you're just not blowing money here or there and everywhere. So that's the first one. I don't know anything. I don't know anything. I got to find someone who knows something I have to pay them.
Marc Brown: Fair enough. The next one is about maybe do I need someone now or do I need them later? And that really depends on how much you can accomplish. And where you want to focus your time. So maybe, maybe you want to hire that one person who well we're in that area that you think you might do well in. Because another thing to think about is some bands.
Marc Brown: And I talk about this a lot in my talks is some bands or artists they're never going to get played on the radio, like a death metal band. It's not going to get played on the radio. So it doesn't matter. So the answer is never hire anyone,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: depends on the station. There, there are some but. not many of course. Yeah,
Marc Brown: but, but do you know what I mean? To have it impacted radio, you want to get played on in the daytime and all that kind of stuff.
Marc Brown: So, so it's those kinds of questions that I think you need to ask yourself and, and the answers as much as I've given a vague response, the answers will come up. They'll bubble. If you ask those questions to yourself and talk about it with the people you work with, like your producer or your manager, people in the band.
Marc Brown: I think those, you, you don't need to do everything right away would be my answer. So you can, you don't need to just get lots of money and spend it all at once. You can do things on a shoestring budget and learn to understand how things work yourself. And the key is the confidence that you can figure some stuff out yourself.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. That makes perfect sense. So as a music promoter, I would assume that all your contacts, the people, you know, those, those are your assets. That's, that's something That you can build in a business around, but you know, for, for a band trying to promote themselves, they think about TV station or radio station.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Do you just pick up the phone and call them and ask who's in charge? Or how do you get to the right person? Have you got any recommendations how to cut
Marc Brown: is a good, yeah, that is, that is a good, that is a good question. And I find you can do a lot of research online
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay.
Marc Brown: about what radio shows are, right for your music. Because, so when I think when I discuss that here and there saying where you are, knowing where you're at, you've got to know what kind of music.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes.
Marc Brown: you are, where do you fit in, in the wider context? And then you think, okay, well, what are the bands that I like or artists that I like or musicians that I like, where, where do they get support in, in, in, in this could be in radio and TV and press online, anything. And you can do, you can research a lot of that via like social media.
Marc Brown: So following people. Um, so for example, if you're an independent artist in Australia, you're looking at triple J though, you know, and then you go in and look and find out what shows are. Right. Um, again, I refer to that. If you're a death metal artist, you're not going to get played on the pop show, but if there is a specialist like in the UK, the radio one have a specialist metal show, which is very important, very influential.
Marc Brown: So you can, you can share, you can share. Sift through that a bit more and get down into what the options might be. And then, you know, you can reach like people, presenters, radio presenters are very used to and open to being contacted by people. And if you find a way to get in touch with them and send them a link to your music and they like it, they'll put you in touch with the other.
Marc Brown: So they'll say, Hey, this is my producer. is the person that works on the show. And then in press, if you read articles about bands, you like there, you can find those people's email addresses. So if everybody gets frustrated by this might be these kind of responses, because it means it's hard work, but that's what you sort of got to do early on.
Marc Brown: You got to teach yourself some stuff, and then I guarantee it'll pay off later when you've learned a little more of yourself and you look to hire.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Marc. This is phenomenal advice. I learned a lot for myself just now there And It makes perfect sense to me. So, uh, it's.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: actually a couple of straightforward steps that everybody can take. You just got to start doing it. There's No. secret sauce and there is not a trade secret that is kept from the public.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's just something that everybody can do. And uh, I guess a lot of bands just don't, you know, don't do it. It just need to get started. Yeah.
Marc Brown: like, it's, it's an access to knowledge. It's an access to knowledge thing. And, and you, you sorta mentioned like, like when I did, cause I don't do radio promotion anymore, but when I did it, you said like, you know, my currency is the people I know they're my assets, but what it is is it's the relationship that I had with those people.
Marc Brown: So I mentioned I was in London. I met up with people. A couple of friends who I've worked together. One of them was involved. He worked at a radio station when I plugged the hives 20 years ago. And the other guy, it did radio for years, and now he runs one of the larger record companies. And those what, the two things that when you hire someone they should have, are they the connections, those relationships that you build up over time.
Marc Brown: So it means that the person you're hiring knows the people that are interacting. And then also that that person has experience in what works and what doesn't work. And I think the big thing for artists and independent musicians is this idea of timelines. It sounds super boring, but you need to have a timeline and you need to know when to contact people.
Marc Brown: And when you hire someone you're hiring in theory or hiring an actual.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep.
Marc Brown: Who says, Hey, I've done this so many times before in a good way. You know, why don't we do this? We can do that. We can do that. And that's all stuff that you will know generally, or you'll, you'll be like, oh, I knew a bit of that, but I, you know, because you were teaching yourself.
Marc Brown: So that's, those are the things that you're getting. It's like, oh, advanced knowledge of how things work and the ability to get into context. With the people, like I have a warm introduction where someone says, Hey, I'm working this new record. I know you like this kind of music. Would you listen to it and tell me what you think and that, and that, and the better those relationships, the easier it is.
Marc Brown: But that's not to say that you can't build your own relationships from the start.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay, look, this is really, really valuable information. So I like that a lot. Uh, radio plays of course are very important, but nowadays it's also a lot about playlists, especially on the big streaming platforms. And I found that it's a little bit trickier to find out who the person is, who sets up or ads, songs to playlist on apple or Spotify.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, what's different there.
Marc Brown: Yeah, that's a very good question. Can we talk about this as well at my, excuse me, in my talks. And so the idea of is it, so Bita is a tool for sending and receiving digital audio, right? And then we also, um, have this thing called how we listen, which is an interview series about how FA, how people find and listen and experience new music.
Marc Brown: And our mission statement as a company is to give artists and their teams, the tools and the knowledge. To succeed and the tool is beat done. The knowledge is how we listen, but how we listened started out of this idea, it was this blog interview series, and it's turned in and we do monthly events and all this stuff.
Marc Brown: But the reason we started that initial interview series was because I got super frustrated. By all the stuff we're talking about. So someone says you go to a conference as a newer artists and someone says, oh, well, you could just hire me for a thousand pounds, you know, two and a half Australian thousand Australian dollars.
Marc Brown: And I'll just do all your press. And it's like, well, that is that right for every new artist. No, it's not. But then also Spotify and apple music, they love to tell you Deezer. They love to tell you, look, if you upload your music to our planet, You know, the algorithm is going to get you noticed, or you're going to get on a playlist and everything's going to be great.
Marc Brown: Oh, well, you're laughing. Exactly. And so, so that, so the thing about playlists is the idea of a playlist is nothing new because that's how it works in radio, right? So in radio, you, you start getting played on specialist radio in the evening, and then as your music becomes more and more familiar, it gets played more and more in the daytime.
Marc Brown: It goes up the rotation. That's the way it works. And that's the way most playlists would work probably on Spotify like that. They're all the tracks are ordered in a certain way. And so you want to get on these? There is no doubt. It's a good thing, but, the mistake people make is they think I'm going to get on a playlist and then everything else is just going to go well, I'm going to have to, I can lean back, you know,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah.
Marc Brown: uh, and everything great.
Marc Brown: Yeah. Do you see what I mean? And that's, and that's understandable. That's understandable that people feel that way. But I talk
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's just a milestone, but it's not the end of it. Yeah. Yeah.
Marc Brown: exactly. And I talk about how, you know, I say this quite often, like the people who are supporting your record, they might take a lead on something like you might get a piece of press before anybody else, you might get a break, but they're also expecting to see other people.
Marc Brown: Be interested in it. Right. And this is no different than when I was working in normal radio playlists. There, they, if they put a record on the radio and they take it, they give it a lot of support early on, and then they see no one else is playing it
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Hmm.
Marc Brown: or writing about it. Or the band is a touring and they say, well, why are we supporting this artist?
Marc Brown: There's not a lot else going on. You know, maybe it's not connecting with the audience and the. What you want to be thinking about as an artist or, you know, anybody who works supports artists is these playlists are part of a overall strategy. Right? And you know, the, the contacting them is difficult because it is a bit weirder in that way.
Marc Brown: And then the other problem with playlist is some of them do take, you know, money to get paid. Like they get paid. To listen to stuff and all that kinda stuff. So like, so I think that that's the thing. Do you know what I mean? Like, I think, I think it's difficult to, to figure all that out, but also I think it's very important that people don't, um, don't focus too much on playlists being the most important thing or paying to get on playlist.
Marc Brown: Because again, there's a lot of these platforms that say, oh, we can get you guaranteed place. Do you see what I mean? So.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes. Yes.
Marc Brown: very tough. How you get on playlists. Like E you know, distributors can help you. There's lots of different ways to do it, but I would never want to speculate, um, depending on, you know, what kind of music it is and all that kind of stuff.
Marc Brown: Again, vague answer, but there's important stuff in there about that. You need to have a broader understanding of what you're doing first, instead of just thinking playlist is the only way for.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes, Okay. Of course. So what you're saying is that playlists are one element of the bigger picture and it needs to
Marc Brown: Yes,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: all fit in together. Yes. And you know, if for whatever reason, they don't take a song on a playlist, it's not the end of the world. Just keep going and do other things.
Marc Brown: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. Good. Okay, fantastic.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, um, let's talk about your business. So where are you at? Uh, it's, It's a newer business. If I understand correctly, uh, you went into better stage and it's now public and, you know, the, the website looks phenomenal. It looks super professional. It's super clear. It's very attractive. I find how is business going for you so far?
Marc Brown: It's good. So we, we, but we built our company up as a. Like w w you know, we bootstrapped it. So like, we're like an independent artists. And so we started it and it was a side project for a handful of years. And then about two years ago, we got some investments, a couple million dollars, and everybody quit their jobs and started building on it working.
Marc Brown: Um, I, you know, it was a full-time project. So if things have changed radically in the last 18 months, and so we've, you know, We've had time to dedicate to all the things we need to dedicate to marketing, to, you know, letting people know we exist to developing the platform. So it's amazing. It's really, it's been an amazing two years, but it's, um, it's very difficult work.
Marc Brown: It's just like being an
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: of
Marc Brown: know, it takes time to build things up. So
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And then it takes time to get noticed and you know, the word needs to spread because yeah,
Marc Brown: And it costs you don't want to spend too much money, but you can not spend any money. You know, it's a balance for sure.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Say, would you mind to just phrase in your own words, you know, what are the problems you're solving with your website that, that is attractive to musicians?
Marc Brown: Th th the way, the way I explain it is that, you know, music is the currency, right? So w artists, they make them create music. Up to 60,000 tracks a day are uploaded to Spotify every day. So when I started, it was hard to get your record into a record store, and that was the challenge. But now it's easy to release your music, but no one knows your music exists.
Marc Brown: And so there we look at, we say there are three stages, you know, creation, promotion discovery. And so you're sending files and streams back and forth. As soon as you start collaborating via. You know, artists, musicians, sending stuff to studios, you know, you know all about it. Then there's the promotion phase where if you and I are making an album together, we have a manager, we do all this kind of stuff.
Marc Brown: Um, they start sending it to other people. And then there's this discovery phase, which is people, unlike the general public people who work in the music ecosystem, they're always receiving a lot of music, you know, it's Hey, what do you think of this? You work at a radio station or you're a manager or you're like you, you're a producer, you have a studio.
Marc Brown: Hey, can I send you my music? I want to, I need some advice. Right? So you're really, people are reaching out to people privately sending and receiving digital audio. And so what Bita does is it makes it easy to send and receive digital audio in a clean, simple and secure way. So it doesn't matter if you're collaborating, you're promoting or you're just listening this.
Marc Brown: We make all those things easier, which the ultimate hope is is that all those things, um, become easier. People find it easier to listen to music there's less time wasted, uh, because everybody spends time clicking on links, downloading this, doing that different file formats. And we just make all that easier.
Marc Brown: Our focus is on making that process as easy as possible for as many people as possible. And the most, the biggest group of those people are creators. There's millions, you know, tens of millions of creators and they all have this problem.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. So let's say where, you know, artists previously used something like, let's say Dropbox or Google drive. Um, quite acceptable, I guess, to now shuffle wave files, forum back, but it's maybe not a cool, cool platform to then later share a finished project because you know, the streaming quality is not good and it's, you know, it's difficult to protect and you are solving all of this in one step.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You know, people wouldn't have to go to, let's say SoundCloud to, to share their finished projects. So you don't need one project to. Produce and another one to share it's all in BYTA.com. Is that correct?
Marc Brown: Yeah, exactly. So, so something like Dropbox and we transfers, they are good, but they're, they're built for all different file types.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yes.
Marc Brown: Do you see what I mean? Like, you know, so. For example, Dropbox doesn't read well metadata. So you can't type in the artist's name into the, into the metadata. Uh, it's terrible for streaming.
Marc Brown: It's very bad. It's unresponsive. Um, you can't convert. So if you use Dropbox all the time, you're going to have to have a lab version and MP3 version, all that kind of stuff. So those are the problems that people face every day. And then SoundCloud is a good example. They started out sort of doing what we're doing.
Marc Brown: But we do that. They sort of gave up on that. And they're more about it being a streaming platform, now, a platform for releasing music and they're more streaming focused, but their streaming isn't that secure and the sound quality. Isn't that good? So what you end up is in this situation where you're sending up a Dropbox link and a SoundCloud link and the user experience for that is a pain in the ass, whereas you're exactly right.
Marc Brown: Bita does that. It's one app that does that in a clean, simple and secure.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. That that makes it makes a lot of sense. Can you explain in a bit more detail why we need to protect our audio audio file. So for example, I use Google drive, for example, for a lot of my files. And I usually thought that they are fairly well protected there it's just between me and my client.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: What, what extra layers of protection would one need?
Marc Brown: I think what, what, what, what's important to think about what that, like generally it is, they are secure. I would never say that Google is not secure, but what, what, what happens a lot of the time with say something like Google driver we transfer or no more with, with box and, um, and Dropbox is that you end up in a situation.
Marc Brown: Where, how would I explain it? Like they, you share something with someone and they have access to the top level folder, and then, then you put something in that folder and you forget that you gave them access and then suddenly everybody's got access to all your stuff. And I'm not seeing that people are there.
Marc Brown: People are dodgy in any way, shape or form. Absolutely not. What I mean more is. Piracy is not necessarily what you're worried about. You're generally much more worried about, um, access, controlling your narrative, making sure that the, that you get the music to the people you want to get it to on the timeline that is appropriate for you.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay.
Marc Brown: that's what you need to think about. I think artists need to think about when it comes to security, you want to make sure that. If you send something to someone, they can maybe only download it once. If you're concerned about that or that you maybe only want them to have a stream for 24 hours or for three days, or it expires after a week so that people don't forward it around to people.
Marc Brown: So those are all things you can do to limit people's access while making it easy for them to listen, but saying, Hey, this is the way. I, I want to live it because you, where you are with your artists, maybe Google drive is fine, but when they go to the next stage and a manager is sending it out to different places, maybe they don't want everybody to have access to the files, or maybe they only want them to have limited access.
Marc Brown: And so that's when I think about security, that's what I think is most.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: look, um, I think that's a really smart concept and it ties in with other things we've discussed on this podcast already, especially episode 15, when I spoke about, um, you know, the, the digital infrastructure that artists should set themselves up and, you know, to make a virtual file vault. Record companies used to do, and maybe that is exactly the tour that people want here.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, so that's, that's a really interesting concept. That's a really interesting concept. Um, I guess every time we need to talk about sound and the internet sound quality is. It's subject that comes up sooner or later. And you mentioned earlier, you know, that there are a couple of platforms that don't sound as good as others.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Where would you personally set the bar? You know, which, uh, which platforms sound okay. And which ones do not sound okay to your ears.
Marc Brown: Oh, you know what I'm going to do. I, I'm going to talk about what other people tell me because they don't, I don't think it's fair for me to comment on other platforms. I hear a lot of artists talk about how SoundCloud processes, processes. Audio, they do something with it. So I think the one that people use for streaming is SoundCloud.
Marc Brown: For sure. Um, what I also think though, is that a lot of people don't need very high res audio for ref when they reference things. So in what you do in your role, mixing, mastering, all that kind of stuff, it's very important, but for a quick reference of how the track sounds as in, you know, his third year doing edits.
Marc Brown: So you're just giving it a quick list. And a lot of people listen on their computers and won't be able to notice much. Audio quality difference in a way. So if you're streaming at three 20, it's, it's pretty good. The idea that you want to stream a lab file, you absolutely do. Not because the file is so big, you know, it, it would be a nightmare to stream that from a data point of view.
Marc Brown: We're not, we don't live in a world where that will be the case. Yes. Um, and even then listening to have files on your computer, if you don't have good headphones, if you're not using. You know, an adapter for your headphones. Like, I can't remember what they're called, you know, for, to make sure you get even better quality out of your computer.
Marc Brown: So I think that like, that's the hard thing that there's some pretty bad audio in certain places, but it's also that it doesn't need, I don't want anybody to think it needs to be high res all the time. There are certain use cases and you can't, you can't replicate going to a studio for one.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Of course.
Marc Brown: because you can listen to it on your computer doesn't mean it's going to sound good.
Marc Brown: So I think that's the other thing, the context around, um, what, what, what you, what you listened to in way or, and what you really need, because I think a lot of people make a mistake of thinking, well, I need to send a web file to someone and they need to listen to that lossless on their computer, but then it doesn't really sound that good on a computer anyway.
Marc Brown: And so, um, that's sort of my, I have a much more nuanced view.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Thank you very much. That that is really good. That's really good. Uh, but would you agree that the tendency generally. Seems to be that the streaming services seem to improve quality and just, you know, thinking about apples step to high resolution audio, do you reckon there will be some kind of a trend in the industry that others may follow at some stage?
Marc Brown: I found like, so I predominantly listen to a lot of music on Spotify and with headphones and just normal apple AirPods. And I didn't, I didn't use air pots for years. Two years ago. And what, what I think is, is really fascinating is, is that I'm always impressed. How, what good. It sounds. I think the technology is improved marketing.
Marc Brown: From just cause I have, I have it set to highest quality on Spotify. So what's at three 20 and every once in a while I'm like, oh my God, does it sound as good when I used to listen to this record on vinyl or on CD. So I found that things, even the average listening experience has improved quite a bit.
Marc Brown: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Good. Thank you very much. That's a good discussion to have. You've been in the music industry for such a long time. Now, what is your prediction for the next two years? How are, how has the music industry going to change? Now? We had big changes due to COVID and you know, everything's shifted online. We are in this constant state of motion and, and changes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If you had to, you know, guess and or liquor look into your crystal ball, what would you expect for the next two years?
Marc Brown: I think all the, all the buzzwords are still out there. So artists rights, artists getting paid, uh, all this stuff about NFTs, you know? Um, but, but I, but I think the key. To think about is in the same way that I discussed the, um, the traditional radio versus getting on a Spotify playlist. The game is still the same.
Marc Brown: The, the, the game has not changed in 20 years since I've worked in music, you have artists who are trying to get noticed to build a career and a lot. And what that means is that it's, it's like, how do you do that? Who are the people you contact? What are the ways you do that? That's the thing that's always changing.
Marc Brown: How do you create the awareness about who you are and what you do and how do you work together? And that's so when, when you think about Tik TOK, people go on about that and music discovery. It's like, these are newer ways that things happen and that's the way that's the way to do it. Really. You know, that, that you just need to understand all these newer things are happening and, and think not, I need to do this because everybody else is doing it, but be.
Marc Brown: This new things come along is a good for me, you know, or how can I make sure I get paid properly? Do I have the information I need all the metadata, all that kind of stuff. So there's an education part going on that we're making it easy. People are making it easier and easier to get paid. If your music is becomes successful, popular, but also that the tools of how do I get noticed?
Marc Brown: And how do I, that music discovery thing is always changing. And so as an artist
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um,
Marc Brown: or anybody who works again with artists, you're just thinking, what, what are these things that are coming up? Are they right for me? Are they not right for me? And just thinking though that the game is the same, that it is, it always was, is that you want to, you want your music to connect with people and you.
Marc Brown: To build that context around who you are as an artist. And that's, that's the game basically, and that's the same. So no matter what's happening with all the buzzwords and the predict, you know, there's always new stuff happening all the time. The thing to think about is, is do these bloods of buzzwords apply to me and can they help me do what I need to do to get to where I want to go with.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's very good. I really liked that because that's gives a certain, it's a certainty and in many ways, You've worked with so many bands in the past and different artists over, over time. Did you realize. There were certain let's call it personal or professional traits that are common for the most successful bands, or maybe also, you know, on the other end, maybe certain character traits that Bence share that, that, you know, don't get us far.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Is there anything that, you know, successful artists have in common? I guess that's my question. Did you notice anything?
Marc Brown: They work hard. They work hard like it to be, to be, um, a musician is you need to be creative. Like you can change that, but you also need to work hard. Like the artists that I work with. Like the ones that were at number one, the, like the schedule's grueling, the amount of, you know, interviews and all that kind of stuff.
Marc Brown: And those are, those are the ones that th th th the people that are most successful are the most driven, you know, th th the most creative and the most driven, and those, those two factors at play together is what causes success. I think there is just, you've got to work so hard and you can't give up. Um, and the road is sort of long and never ended.
Marc Brown: Um, but, but it's the commitment to what they do commitment to their artistry and obsession about that is important. I think.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Yep. That's that makes perfect sense to me. Um, that's that's really good. Um, let's just bring it back to your business. One more time. You've got a different. Tears there's a free entry level. Um, and I would definitely put a link in, into the show notes if that's okay with you, um, where people can sign up and, um, then there are higher tiers that costs a little bit of money that have more features.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, what would you recommend those for, you know, at what stage in an artist's career, is it advisable to.
Marc Brown: Well, what, what, what, what we offer? So having a free tier that's called having a freemium model. That's um, You know, the free, the free version allows you to send, upload and share audio. And then it expires after seven days and it's not stored in the cloud. Right. So it just disappears after seven days. And that's the way we transfer works.
Marc Brown: And I think that's very fair that there are lots of people, like, say, for example, you, if you're just sending something to someone who's been in your studio, or, you know, you've been working with, they need to listen right away and, or download the tracks and then they don't need it. Easy. There is no reason why you should have to pay for a platform.
Marc Brown: I don't, I don't think anybody should have to pay, but then when our paid platforms or paid accounts, get into things like when you want to upload something and keep it in the cloud and then decide when you're going to share it out instead of uploading over and over and over again. So that's for people who maybe have an album.
Marc Brown: And they're going to do some promo over six weeks, two months, and it's easier to do it that way. And then, so, so upload storage is a big one with paid accounts and more flexibility with sharing. So you can decide what kind of sharing you want to do. Do the links expire. Do you create like a, he called them universal links, like a private SoundCloud link, or do you want to have more security?
Marc Brown: And as you go up, there's three different plans. There's another fourth plant coming soon. PayPal. And that's really about control over security, um, and features that if you say you do promotion like radio or press or anything like that, there's more additional features. But the, our most popular one is the creator plan, which is the first one first pay plan because people just generally want upload storage and to control the different types of links.
Marc Brown: This.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And, um, I'm not quite sure if you want to answer this question, but, uh, you, you don't have to, if you don't want to, but, um, I, are we looking at a finished product here or are you still, are you working on expanding it further, giving it more features?
Marc Brown: Well, absolutely. Yeah. So this is, uh, this is software. Software has never finished. So we, what we did was when we got like, when we got our. We did a load of stuff behind, uh, under the, behind the scenes, under the hood. Then we launched a redesign in, uh, August of last year and then every month for the next five, six months or new features.
Marc Brown: So we've got tons of new features coming. Um, we've been waiting, excuse me, a couple of those we've been waiting to build because we knew we needed them. A couple of those come from user feedback. Um, so yeah, there's tons of new features to come. The iOS app, Android app, all that kind of stuff. Definitely.
Marc Brown: So if this was the work has never.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. That sounds really interesting. And you shared so much valuable information today and you mentioned. So occasionally you do talks at universities and so on. Is there an online presence for, for those talks? If anybody wants to hear more of what you have to share, is there a place where people could go?
Marc Brown: Uh, that is a good question. I don't know how many of the school talks are online, but like, you know, what I would suggest is BYTA.com/how we live. Uh, we can put that in the show notes. We do, we do a monthly event. We're doing one, um, like every month, basically towards the end of the month, the last, I think it's the last Tuesday of every month.
Marc Brown: Like they can come to those. We started putting that stuff up on YouTube. Uh, we have, we don't really promote it. We've just started doing that. But like, yeah. I don't know if there's any of the talks I do. I do this one called the artist journey. I do that a lot at conferences. That's what I did in London.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, Well, it sounds fascinating. And I would definitely love to, you know, watch it down here in Australia if I get a chance to, to find it somewhere. Yeah. Cool.
Marc Brown: You got to get me to come to Australia and do some talks alive. That's the whole point.