Presskit.to: A Cross-Platform Portfolio Web App For Music
Creating and distributing press kits just got easier. Boston-based music tech startup, Indie Ambassador, has launched its first product, Presskit.to, as a cross-platform portfolio web app. I conducted an interview with CEO, Ben Maitland-Lewis, to learn more about it:
What led you to start Presskit.to and what experience do you have in the music industry?
I’ve been working in the music industry for over 12 years as a touring musician, manager, label rep, advisor, and now as an aspiring entrepreneur. I have a music business degree from Berklee College of Music, and did college & retail marketing for SonyBMG for 6 years on both US coasts. While in college I started Sidehatch Entertainment Group, an artist development & management company that’s released 23 records, a documentary DVD, and worked with many high profile artists and festivals.
Currently, I am the CEO & Founding Alchemist of Indie Ambassador, a music media & technology startup building tools for the new music entrepreneur. Along with my co-founder and business partner Chris Cave (also a musician and a music industry grad from Northeastern University), we set out to develop simple solutions for creative individuals seeking to build sustainable careers in the new music economy.
We realized there was no tool designed to allow that demographic to neatly and securely showcase their projects in a manner that was ideal for industry professionals to access and interpret. Our flagship tool, Presskit.to, is the music industry’s first cross-platform portfolio web app designed to aid individuals in organizing, protecting, & sharing their creative identities. Consider it a digital business card for the 21st century that houses all of your relevant career info and media without the clutter of social networks and official websites.
How do you differentiate yourselves with other artist sites like Artist Ecard (http://artistecard.com/)?
Addressing Artist Ecard directly, I would say that our Presskits are much cheaper, and that they house not just your best audio, video, and photos, but also files (riders, stage plots, press releases, etc.) and a resume-like list of achievements we call "Wins." Each Presskit comes with a clean “Presskit.to/YOURPROJECT” URL at no additional fee, and we work on every internet-connected device. Presskit.to is a responsive web application built with HTML5 and CSS3, that automatically formats content for the best possible user experience, regardless of device or browser. No need to download an app, it just works! Finally, users can create more than one Presskit per account and manage them in a centralized dashboard. This is advantageous because in today’s music landscape, every artist is a music entrepreneur with multiple creative identities.
Outside of Artist Ecard, there are a few good sites out there that are trying to tackle a similar issue, but they often act as a splash page or hub for your various social identities. Presskit.to is much more of a standalone vessel for all of your curated content pertaining to a particular project or initiative, all of which can be set to public or private with the owner in control of setting the duration of access.
Is Presskit.to only for independent musicians or is it open for musicians signed to labels as well?
It’s not about drawing lines between artists with varying levels of success. Presskit.to goes beyond this distinction, and can make life easier for any music entrepreneur who finds themselves in need of a mobile portfolio, signed or unsigned. (See the final answer of this interview for specific examples.)
Ever since we launched into private beta at this year’s SXSW, it’s been extremely exciting seeing who is using Presskit.to and for what. The Presskits we have seen created across the country and abroad have run the gamut from those for traditional music entrepreneurs like bands, solo artists, managers, and engineers to those for other creative individuals and endeavors like high profile public speakers, publicists, bloggers, non-profit organizations, films, and music festivals.
I see that you use SoundCloud for the site. Are you looking to add other third-party services to the site and if so, which ones?
We’re extremely excited to integrate with SoundCloud as the first of what will be many third-party services that can sync with your Presskit. We are going to continue to seek out the most important services to sync with our users’ Presskits and work to incorporate them as quickly as possible. Services like Bandsintown for syncing tour dates, and Google docs and Dropbox for file sharing, are all on our radar.
Will the site charge musicians to use the platform?
We will be rolling out a multi-tiered subscription-billing model for Presskit.to in the coming weeks, but we plan to always offer a free Presskit that’s powerful but not as feature-rich or with as much storage space than the paid versions. We are also working on partnerships that will offer our users discounts on industry support systems like PR Newswire, Music Pro Insurance, and others.
Is Presskit.to going to concentrate on the music industry or expand to all creative industries?
We’re beginning our focus in music, the area we know best, but we fully intend to cater to all creative industries down the road. Authors, filmmakers, producers, and brands are already using Presskit.to, so the potential to grow is there, but again, right now we are best positioned to grow in music.
What trends and developments do you see in promoting music today?
Another activity we are involved in is a monthly music industry panel in Boston called RockShop, and one of the big things that stood out to all of us from hearing musicians speak was that bands have everything–media, press quotes, achievements, bio, you name it–spread out all over the place and have trouble setting aside those little gems to showcase at a moment’s notice.
Thanks in part to this dissemination of musicians’ info and content across the web, in-person promotion is a trend we see growing rapidly. Connecting with other musicians and industry professionals is much easier on a face to face level than it is online, and we wanted to build a product that helped people go beyond the one-and-done handshake and non-existent follow up that is all too common when networking. Because Presskit.to is a web-app and operates identically on every web-connected device, music entrepreneurs can now pull their phones out of their pockets or iPads out of their bags on the go and physically show someone what they’re up to, whether that’s an artist playing clips of their tracks for a could-be collaborator or a producer showing a potential client pictures of his or her studio. Presskit.to being optimized for mobile use; users don’t have to worry about the annoying pinch and zoom that comes attached with viewing non-mobile sites on a mobile device.
Presskit.to is much more of a B2B tool for musicians and industry pros than it is another, massive fan-facing platform. We are in business to strengthen the creative arts industry and contribute to its future development.
Check out a video intro to Presskit.to:
SORRY, THE BETA INVITES WENT FAST. CHECK BACK, WE MAY GET MORE!
For our loyal Hypebot readers, Presskit.to is giving away 15 beta invites to check out the site. If you’re interested in getting one of the beta invites to Presskit.to, fill out the form here. I will e-mail out beta codes to the first 15 people that enter. Only 1 entry per person.