Until this interview, I didn’t know who Matt Brown is. I do know his software and have used it a lot over the past three years. I must have told people about this software and it certainly crossed my mind when discussing promotions with bands. What is it? It’s Haulix.
Founder of Haulix, Matt Brown and I recently chatted about his music sharing software, bootstrapping business advice and what you might not know about Depeche Mode.
Music and your need for convenience in obtaining it was the catalyst for starting Haulix. Is music still the thing that motivates you and why?
At Haulix, we built software to make the process of sending music to the press easier and more efficient. Even today, we’re still motivated by refining that core process. I’m proud that we offer a service that people use in their day to day jobs – something they get actual value from using.
The web based software used to push watermarked music out to the press is approaching its sixth year on the market. Do you think you have achieved everything you set out to do with Haulix and more?
I’m never completely satisfied and I never stop pushing forward with what we do. We’re at a level now where our core feature set won’t change much and it’s time for refinement. Scaling is also a huge challenge. Anyone can create a file sharing platform that services a few people. Wait until you have thousands of people from all around the globe hitting all parts of your system at one time – it’s a whole different ballgame and you need the technology resources to back up the huge demand.
I recently read Seth Godin’s The Bootstrapper Bible and soaked in the advice. Haulix began as a bootstrapped start-up. What advice do you have for people wanting to create software on a tight budget?
I’m a big Seth Godin fan – I’ve got Linchpin on my bookshelf in the office. But yeah, as for bootstrapping, it doesn’t take much to start a software company. If I remember correctly, Haulix was started for about $1000. When starting a web based business, you can begin with one or two servers, which would be a couple hundred bucks a month at a hosting company. If you are a programmer or have a programmer buddy, you can do the actual development yourself and save money you’d normally pay to a consultant. You don’t need an office building or a huge inventory of product. Everything is virtual and you can control your servers from a home office or computer anywhere with an internet connection.
Starting out is like building a huge snowball on the top of a hill. You have to hustle and be proactive at selling. I contacted prospective labels one by one and as we gained new customers, that snowball started to slowly roll towards the edge and then eventually down the hill.
In the beginning, the rate of your success will grow based on how quickly you listen to customer feedback and refine what you are doing. You will have really tough days and if you can weather the storm in a timely manner, you will continue to survive.
We are in the most technologically advanced stage right now so Haulix and Toppletrack are using this to their advantage to combat album leaks. How does this work and why?
We’ve always concentrated on the pre-release stage of the distribution process. We were approached by Toppletrack, a DMCA takedown service and it was pretty much a no-brainer decision to partner up with them. Sending out DMCA takedown notices after an album is released or leaks goes hand in hand with what we offer. So now we not only protect the music as it goes out the door, but we proactively seek out illegal links and files and get them taken down. It’s a very powerful combination that takes advantage of what you can do with technology. And with the anti-piracy takedown functionality built right into Haulix, we’ve become a full-circle one-stop shop for digital promotions.
Apart from Haulix, what other projects are you working on?
Haulix is my livelihood and gets my full time attention. In fact, our development todo list has at least a year’s worth of work. I don’t have any time for other projects right now.
In an interview you mentioned,“…not [to] settle for any job and life you aren’t satisfied with.” As the economy takes a dive, do you notice an increasing interest in the music industry as more individuals try to pursue their musical aspirations?
It’s hard to say. I would like to think most individuals pursuing a job in the music industry are doing it because they love music and have a passion for working with it. With that said, it’s a tough industry to break into and if you are looking for a quick payout based on the current status of the economy, then it’s probably the last place you should look into.
As the founder of Last Rites, you have seen hundreds of album illustrations. The covers of your albums say as much about your life as any photo album. What are your favourite covers?
LOL I think my tastes have to do with me being a long-time fan of horror movies. Any death metal cover art that Dan Seagrave has done is what I like. In fact, I wouldn’t mind getting a few of those prints framed so that I could hang them on the walls in my house.
The internet has skewed the perception of “journalism”. What are your pet peeves about the press?
Most of the people in the press are cool and we enjoy interviewing them for our blog. Once in awhile when someone gets caught leaking an album, they point the finger back at us and claim there was a security flaw in our system. When we layout the data trail, IP address location info and the watermark scan results, they then surrender or reveal that they shared a promo with a friend who then leaked it.
I read that you are into fast cars, supporting Animal Welfare and you own every Depeche Mode release. What can you tell us about Depeche Mode that we don’t already know?
Hmmm…..even after selling over 100 million albums and singles, they have never had a UK number one single or even a top three.
Are there any last words that you would like to add?
If anyone is still curious as to how our services work, head on over to our homepage at http://haulix.com and check out our new explainer video. Thanks for the interview Lav!