This week on our startup series, we profiled Vampr, a Linkedin type service for the music industry. See our conversation with co-founder Josh Simons below.
TNB – How do you explain Vampr to someone who is unaware? How does it work?
Simons – Put simply, Vampr is a social-professional network, or LinkedIn type service, built specifically for the music ecosystem. That means drummers, singers, songwriters and producers, through to graphic designers, front of house engineers – you name it! For any creative or technical role related to the world of music, our job is to connect them with personnel looking for their skill set and looking to collaborate. Vampr is a mobile app service, currently available on both iOS and Android. It also shares a similar swipe interface to Tinder, so we get called “Tinder for Musicians” a lot. However, it’s definitely not a dating platform, despite the fact that folks have indeed got married after meeting on Vampr!
TNB – What have been some amazing success stories with the app?
Simons – On a macro level we’ve helped our musical community broker over 5 MILLION connections in the past couple of years. Vampr has indirectly led to the creation of hundreds of thousands of new musical works, which is something we’re incredibly proud of. It has had a real, tangible impact on the landscape of music. On an artist level we’ve had so many incredible success stories, which we do our best to feature on our website at www.vampr.me. One of my favorite stories is the connection of rapper Rae Khalil and producer Jared Rubens, who first met on the app in 2018. They’ve become a prolific songwriting team and Rae has gone on to appear on Netflix show Rhythm + Flow, collaborating with the likes of Anderson .Paak, Chance the Rapper, and Free Nationals. Rae and Jared have just finished her debut album which will be out soon – we’ve heard it and it’s great!
TNB – Vampr recently launched a new sync feature. Tell us how it works, and how it came together.
Simons – Vampr Publishing is one of the most exciting and important things we’ve ever launched. We spent half a year designing the world’s simplest submission system for sync representation. It really is simple, in every sense: simple to enter into (and withdraw from) legally, simple terms to understand, simple to submit your tracks and control your ‘Schedule A’ as it’s sometimes referred to in old school publishing scenarios. Not to mention, it is free to use. We took the concept of sync representation, removed the burden of upfront fees and put the onus on us as a company to deliver results for the artists.
If we procure a sync for an artist who enters into the representation deal with a particular track, then it triggers a limited publishing term for that track where we can continue to drive placements for the artist. As far as we can tell we’re the only music startup that has made publishing opportunities this simple to understand and freely available. We’re certainly the only social network who’s ever dipped their toes into the world of music publishing. As a result, there is every chance that in the next 12 months we will grow to represent one of the largest catalogues of original music in the market. In the first couple of weeks alone we’ve had over 1000 artists opt-in to the program.
The idea came about during a moment of reflection for the company where we took a big step back and identified our biggest asset – our half a million strong user base. We asked ourselves, “What business models are available to us now, which can also bring further value to the independent musician who represents our primary user type?” Publishing as a revenue stream has been incredibly important to my co-founder, Baz Palmer, and me in our own careers as songwriters. To be able to offer representation to fledgling musicians who otherwise might not be able to afford it, is very fulfilling on a personal level.
TNB – You guys recently opened up a Nashville office. What about Nashvilledrew you into it?
Simons – Nashville is one of the most important music and songwriting cities in the world – so it was always only a matter of time before we dipped our toes into the scene. As we now move into publishing and representing songwriters more formally, it started to feel like the time was right to establish a presence in the city. Our plans have slowed quite a bit due to COVID-19, but we’re hoping sometime in the future folks will be able to drop by and meet a Vampr rep on Music Row!
TNB – Any Funding history?
Simons – We’ve raised 1.9 million dollars over three funding rounds, including a crowdfunding round last year which saw 1,150 of our users invest half a million dollars in just four months to help fund the expansion of Vampr into a bigger and better social network. It’s a really exciting time for Vampr right now, where we’re in a position to innovate again, creating further value and opportunities for our members and stakeholders.
Recently named in The Music Network’s 30 Under 30 Power List, Josh Simons enjoyed a successful career as a songwriter and performer prior to co-founding Vampr, with over 10 million streams writing for artists such as Travis Scott and with his own band Buchanan, who have had global touring experience with Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban.
Baz Palmer is a serial tech entrepreneur and multi-award-winning songwriter, best known for his role as lead guitarist in 12x Platinum Australian Hall-of-Fame band Hunters & Collectors. Baz signed Josh to his first record deal back in 2011, and the rest, they say, is history!