Interview With Evan Buist
Describe your product or service:
“We acquire and license high-quality, copyright safe music for creative businesses and enterprise platforms via two core products: the Melodie Platform www.melod.ie and the Melodie API: melod.ie/blog/unlimited-music-for-creative-platforms.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Melodie was founded by a family of composers, musicians, and sound designers — all with a deep understanding of the essential role music plays in storytelling.
Our plan was to create a simple, intuitive music licensing platform that both delighted the world’s content creators whilst supporting those creating the music.
We took a complex, restrictive music licensing model and made it simple. Providing content creators with easy access to great music and increased opportunities and revenue for artists.
Our purpose is to connect and inspire Melodie artists, content creators, and employees — growing a benevolent, diverse, and sustainable business.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“Yes — seed $600,000.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“I'm the Managing Director, we have a Head of Artist & Repertoire (Andy Wilson), Catalog Manager (Craig Hodges), Partnerships Managers (Selin Gunsur and Roman Lafond), Head of Business Development (Andrew Stess via StessCo), a series of film and TV licensing reps, a Community Manager (Louie) starting in late April, and a network of amazing advisors and consultants.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“After around 15 years working as a composer and in post-production audio, in 2014, I founded a crowdsourced music platform, NeedaJingle. The purpose of this platform was to connect emerging composers with creative agencies via active advertising briefs. This grew to a community of around 700 composer users. Due to inconsistent quality in submissions paired with a lack of time to curate the music, I decided to fold this idea into a new business. The idea was to create a non-exclusive music licensing model where we ONLY worked with the very best composers and independent artists. We paired this with intuitive proprietary search technology and simple licensing and called it ‘Melodie.’”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“Sitting on a boat, after struggling with names for weeks, it just popped into my head. The domain name was miraculously available. We went with it!”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I've always had that spark. Approaching 40 years of age, I've never had a full-time job (where I wasn't employing myself). I've spent a lifetime freelancing, part timing, and learning on the job. Every door you open brings with it a lesson — the more you move, the more you learn.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“Anyone you speak to in the startup world will attest to the fact that this is a present-tense problem. Startups constantly face challenges, from funding and runway to staffing, tech, product-market fit, market testing, growing pains. It's a neverending puzzle. However, thankfully it does get a little easier to manage once you have a solid team in place to help solve some of those issues that, when starting out, inevitably all fall on the founder!”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Melodie Platform: B2B (broadcast TV, film); Melodie API: B2B2C (creative technology platforms). We have a B2C offering, although that's largely self-managed via SEO and our ambassador program.
What's your marketing strategy?
“We've developed detailed buyer personas for each of our most important customers. We utilize email marketing, SEO, social strategy, editorial coverage of major releases/events, a blog, video marketing, affiliate marketing, and also dabble in limited PPC advertising.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Leveraging networks, phone calls, people we knew.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“We're not only looking at LTV/CAC, subscriber numbers — we need to pay careful attention to 'broadcast placements' and the number of minutes our music appears in broadcast television (we earn royalties when our broadcast programs play on television, radio, cinema). Here's a stat: last year we had 175,000 minutes of music broadcast on Australian TV.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“I found ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal really interesting and scary. Also worth reading the usual recommendations like ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries. Oh, and ‘Venture Deals’ by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson is a must if you're raising.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“There are numerous, but I could never give up Slack or Asana.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“My wife's patience, my own grit, and resilience! Startup life is hard, often lonely, and extremely rewarding. In life, nothing that's worthwhile is ever easy.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I swim a kilometer every morning without fail.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“Caffeine. Regular breaks.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“I think a lifetime of freelancing and managing my own time has forced me to be my own taskmaster: both ensuring the work gets done when it needs to but also looking after myself in the process. Nobody wants to commit karōshi (Japanese: 'overwork death'). I don't struggle to find focus or motivation and can (and often do) work at any hour of the day.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“Sailing instructor. Taught me discipline and gave me a greater love for the outdoors.”
More on Melodie
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