This episode was previously published on the Profitable Musician Show.
Hookist is a platform which allows you to write a song and collaborate with your favorite artists in real-time. It is a tool that will not only get closer to your fans but will also make you a new income stream. Meredith Collins is the CEO and co-founder of Hookist, and she discusses with us how the idea came to be. Discover the process of writing a Hookist song, from the theme of the song to the lyrics. Find out how they make money and the royalties that go with the song-making process.
Meredith comes from a very diverse background. She worked at FAO Schwarz when she was acting back in the day, and she considers it one of her survival jobs. She was the hula hoop girl at the top of the stairs, and she spent eight hours a day hula hooping. She was a camera person trying to avoid the life of being a starving actor but was always interested in the creative process.
How Hookist was formed
She met Terry, a guy from Winnipeg Canada who produced for the Crash Test Dummies. Over time, they got to know Brad, the lead singer. Meredith was always the person who went to the Q&A after the show where you have the director, actor, etc. She was always interested about why they wrote it, what made you do it, how things came about, etc. She’s lucky to be friends with a rock star so she is able to ask goofy fan questions that everybody wants to ask.
Crash Test Dummies sold 13 million records in the 1990s. Over time, they got to talk about streaming. It was not the same income stream. At the same time, social media was becoming a very clear thing that artists need to participate in. There has to be a more authentic way for artists to use social media.
That’s how Hookist came about. “What’s more authentic than writing a song with your fans?” It’s a global songwriting collaboration. They look at it as a festival where they’ve gotten to this point where they can hold many collaborations at the same time. They are looking for artists who want to lead collaborations with their fans. It’s a great way to engage.
Meredith’s partner was also her co-founder. They had an idea. They knew nothing about building technology and did it in the dumbest way that they possibly could. People gave them money and they raised money. They built it and then used a real rock star to test it in public with his fans. There were super lucky. They didn’t even know enough to be worried.
They put it out there and were lucky enough to find an owner of a development agency whose passion was music. He had a team that was in the place of junior people who were ready to move up to the next level. He gave it to them and gave Meredith and her partner an amazing deal. They did an incredible job and built so much more than they could have afforded. It was great.
He had a team that was in the place of junior people who were ready to move up to the next level. He gave it to them and gave us an amazing deal. They did an incredible job and built so much more than we could have afforded. It was great.
Meredith shares their experience, “What happened is that on the day that we launched, Brad put it out on his socials. I don’t know if you know this, but I did not know this. When you put technology out, you put it out, and in different places, it will show up at different times. The development agency told us, “It’s live.” We’re hitting refresh. We’re like, “Where is it?” It wasn’t showing up in New York yet, but it turned out that when we finally saw it two hours later, people from around the world had been submitting lyrics. They had built profile pages. They were voting and commenting, and on day two, people paid to participate.
They don’t pay a lot of money. They pay between $0.49 and $0.79 to submit a lyric. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to keep the trolls out. It’s enough to get a nice experience. It’s enough to encourage people to craft something rather than the direct thing you see on Twitter. That was the big question. Can you write a good song like this? We didn’t know if it would work or what. We have 40 songs, and they’re good.”
“At the end of the day, our total goal is to serve the song and the artist. We want the artist to be proud of the song. We want them to love the song. We want them to sing the song, record it, and put it out there. That’s the creative process. We’re seeing the journey that an artist goes through, and it’s magical. The fans freak out, and the artist looks like we put them on a pedestal. You see the magic of them creating something special. The fans are deeply invested in it.”
Hookist does not have rules. They respect the creative process, and artists can do whatever they want. The artist can give an instrumental, or a theme for a song, and people write to it. There may be one lyric, instrumental, or nothing, whatever you want.
Artist can bring their fans to the experience, and Hookist also has built up a gorup of people, who’ll write to anyone’s songs. Your fans are going to appreciate this more than anybody else. They have a community that writes with artists. They are there for mostly everyone. They have an international community. They wrote a song with Jill Sobule, and it became a very American song. It was about disinformation.
Hookist build a profile page for each artist. For every artist that leads a collaboration, we build a special profile page for them so that our community can discover their music. They have a lot of photos so the community can get to know you. They link to your website, your Spotify, your YouTube channel, and any specific videos to which you want to be linked. The goal of Hookist is to help artists sell more music and get more fans. If you have a Patreon, they link to that. They include photos, so it looks nice. It’s a whole beautiful profile page custom-built for you as an artist so that we can do all of that. The platform can help you grow your fan base, sell more music, sell tickets, and link to your tickets, that whole deal.
The length of time to create a song can vary. With Chris Barron from the Spin Doctors, it went on for three months. It’s an eight-minute song. You could do it in six weeks. You could do a fast one in four weeks. You can do it every day for a week if you want. You make more money the longer it is and get more exposure. They have had Paul Williams, Crash Test Dummies, Jack Tempchin, Peaceful Ego, and Peaceful Easy Feeling. Those are huge successful guys and gals but also independent artists. In fact, Morgan Myles wrote an incredible song with Hookist, too.
You don’t have to give up your rights at all. In fact, they would never do that. They have two attorneys. One is the general counsel for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Meredith and her partner made sure everything was structured so that songwriters would like it and be respected.
How they get paid
They have not taken a salary for the entire time they’ve built it. It’s a total labor of love. They believe in it. Her partner does run a recording studio here in New York, so he records most of the songs with the artist that comes through.
“We split everything essentially 50/50. Not everything. We take 50% of the proceeds from the collaboration. We split it 50/50 with the artist and take a cut of the publishing as well. We pay the users with our 50%, and we take a piece. We’re building more features and opportunities for artists to make money, and we’ll take a piece of it. We also have a tip jar, but we don’t take a piece of that. We cover the fees for PayPal gateway because that feels gross. It’s like, “I don’t want to take your tip.””
Where to find them
You can find Hookist on @HookistMusic on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re interested, you can check out hookist.com. You can also send an email to Meredith@Hookist.com.