Music DIY can be frustrating and tiring. Whether you are an indie label, manager, DIY artist or, like most of us, wear many hats, you often need help - qualified help - to do tasks ranging from creating a tour poster to mastering a track or launching an entire record release campaign. Enter indie.ninja, to help you build a project based indie music team.
In the coming days and weeks, the indie.ninja team will be sharing insights into the many positions that can make up an effective indie team, plus what to expect and not expect from each. Here's and intro to the series and the indie.ninja service.
By Bill Wilson, co-founder of indie.ninja
Hello, I’m Bill Wilson, one of the founders of indie.ninja. On behalf of my co-founders Gus Mavromoustakos and Laurens Kusters, we’d like to introduce you to indie.ninja and this special series for Hypebot.
Laurens and I cut our teeth (and lost some) starting and running two independent rock labels, I Scream Records and Blackout! Records respectively. We’ve also done most of the crappy jobs in the music business — working for various record companies, publishers, industry organizations, and managing touring bands over the last 20+ years. Back in that analog era, we relied on community resources like MaximumRockNRoll’s “Book Your Own F@#$%&g Life” and on word of mouth to find people to help us and our bands. Sometimes they worked out, and frequently, they didn’t.
Ironically enough, the advent of the internet didn’t simplify the job of being an artist. The number of thankless invisible jobs that need to be done to build a career in music has increased exponentially. In addition to the mainstays of publicity and promotion, there’s now playlisting, managing social media platforms, delivering content to digital services, managing a crowdfunding campaign, creating web videos, and even managing… metadata!?
One day, Laurens stopped by my workspace at NY’sGeneral Assembly, and our impromptu hang turned into a lengthy dialog about how artists and labels get things done in the business, and how, after so many years, it was still incredibly hard to find quality contractors — especially when starting out or in new territories. There were platforms for funding but none to find and hire no-bullshit consultants, designers, promotions, marketing, and road crew.
We decided that day we should build it. No funding. No safety net. After kissing a few frogs, we found Gus, our technical co-founder and head of product, who quit his day job to build indie.ninja version 1.0 with us over the course of a few months. We also enlisted our old friend, Ray Canapini, our UI designer who put together a fresh look for us.
We also decided that, unlike all the startups we’ve witnessed fly too close to the sun, we weren’t even going talk about it until it was built. So, in true ninja fashion, we built the product in stealth and launched into private beta in June of 2017 at A2IM’s Indie Week, and even got a bit of love from our friends over at Billboard.
The months that followed have been a flurry of activity. We’ve had over $100K in real jobs through indie.ninja. The platform works, and new features, fixes, and updates are (still) being delivered weekly. We’ve partnered with several indie distributors and trade associations, who have just started actively helping us reach thousands of artists and labels. We’ve also started working with over 100 college “student ninjas” through our indie.ninja On Campus program, which connects college kids to real freelance jobs in the business. We’ve even had talks with a few large companies. As it turns out, the cumbersome infrastructure of the legacy business is nowhere near agile enough for the temporary staffing solutions of the present, let alone future.
And that’s just what we can tell you about.
So now here we are, in beta. Over the next few months we’re going to be rolling up our sleeves with more gigs from companies such as Songtrust and A2IM, more partnerships, more students, and even expanding into new territories.
We’re going to be following this article up with a series of posts here on Hypebot titled “Why Every Indie Needs A ____ Ninja ”, where we’ll hear from some of our friends and ninjas about the whens and whys on working with everything from road managers and guitar techs to designers and software developers. We’ll also be adding more info on our own company blog.
We hope you’ll join us, and show your support, as we finish our demo and play our first few gigs as a company. We’re just gettin’ started.