This episode was previously published on the Profitable Musician Show.
Josh Simons is the founder of Vampr. He was a musician and he toured for ten years. Together with his band, he opened up for artists like Keith Urban and Carrier Underwood. He’s been in the trenches as a musician and is now creating something to help other musicians.
Vampr is a tool that helps musicians find other musicians in the music industry people to connect with.
Josh played music most of his life. Around the age of twenty, he was managing a couple of bands who were friends of friends. He thought he could maybe help them get out there but they didn’t have the drive to be commercially successful. He then started his own band called Buchanan. Within six months since it started, it blew off in Australia and had a song on the radio. It’s not normal and it was not an easy process from there. After that point, they enjoyed 5 or 10 years of playing clubs, bigger venues, 1,000 people rooms, and then ultimately, we supported Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban on a national tour. That was the last big tour he did because around that time, he also started Vampr and he had to get serious with it because they’ve got a lot of shareholders and they’ve raised lots of money.
A year before that tour, he had a hard time finding success outside of Australia and he figured that the challenge was not talent, ambition or anything like that but the lack of network, knowing who to turn to, and how to build a team in a market that’s foreign to you that you don’t understand.
It took him five years to know you the best radio plug publicists, managers, and agents in Australia. When he went to England, he did not know those key people and he did not want to spend another five years before knowing them. He looked for a way to solve the problem quickly and easily and that’s when the idea about Vampr came along. That was in 2015. He was able to juggle managing Vampr and being a successful band in Australia, until he had to make a decision to focus on Vampr. Now he is a full-time CEO of Vampr and a former artist of Buchanan.
Networking can be quite laborious, tedious, and nerve-wracking. What they decided to come up with is what you would call gamification or in simple terms, swipe technology. You can scan people and make it audiovisual, dynamic and instant. There was nothing like that in the market during that time. Hopefully it’s a place where you can find relationships that stay with you for the duration of your musical career, more broadly, your life.
LinkedIn is not saturated with musicians to the degree it should be. It’s only about 4% that’s musicians. You can’t go on LinkedIn and say, “Show me a guitarist in Connecticut who likes Pink Floyd and Tyler, the Creator.” Whereas you can do that on Vampr. That’s the fundamental difference.
They started Vampr with finding bands and they eventually added categories based on demand. They went from having 57 categories to 27,000.
They’ve also worked out a way to do things algorithmically. You won’t see people for a number of reasons they don’ disclose publicly. They may not necessarily be fraudulent but maybe not taking things too seriously or abusing the system. Vampr hides those people and demotes them in the algorithm.
They encourage people to value personalization and tailoring a message to connect with someone in a meaningful way and not just copy-paste messages. They’re also looking into releasing a recommendation system, similar to what LinkedIn calls endorsements, so it’s easy to see that a person is legit.
They also have a Pro badge and having that says that the person is taking things seriously and is investing in themselves. They’ll also be doing skill levels. The free accounts has 80% functionality and the Vampr Pro Bundle gives you 9 or 10 additional value.
About 3% of their audience are Pro members, which is exactly the sweet spot that we want it to be. It also helps us from an A&R standpoint, knowing who the people are that are going to back themselves. Pro is for people who want to be able to connect with more folks, upload more tracks, want more profile pictures, and keep more of their royalties if they’re using Vampr distribution because we offer a distribution service. The free members keep 80% of their royalties, whereas Pro members keep 100%. It’s $4 a month, so it’s not a lot of money. That’s Vampr Pro in a nutshell.
Musician’s requirements are constantly evolving and changing over the course of a career. When you’re right at the start, and you’ve picked up your first baby guitar, all you want is someone else who can sing, play guitar or write some lyrics to sit in a bedroom with you and write songs. That’s step one.
Let’s say you do that for six months and become okay, and you decide you want to play in a 50-person bar in your local city. You’re going to need to speak to a promoter or a merchandise person and get your first CD pre-press. The number of people you need to deal with has broadened again.
Cut to a few years down the line, and you’re playing 100 or 200-person room. The number of people that are involved in that production grows again. Your requirements are constantly evolving. Even at those bigger stages, sometimes you go, “I want to work with some new producers,” or, “I want to shake it up and work with some new session players.” These requirements never stopped arriving and changing. They’re very dynamic.
The whole purpose of Vampr is that as a new personal requirement emerges in your career or musical life, you can go back to your trusty companion Vampr and say, “Find me this person.” That’s the whole ethos behind it.
Aside from all these, Vampr also has Vampr Publishing which is focused on getting as many syncs as possible and helping our users start making money. The thing I love about it is that this isn’t part of Vampr Pro and premium features. This feature is available to anyone who’s on the app who wants to have their songs represented.
When you sign up for the publishing program, you digitally sign a short form agreement that stipulates what will happen in the event that we land you a deal. It is non-exclusive. It says that in the event that we land you a deal, we bring you the opportunity, you approve the opportunity, and that kick-starts the two-year collection period. That’s it. There’s no physical contract or anything like that.
You can head to Vampr.me. There will be links to download the app from either the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store right at the top. Sign up. It’s free and fun. If nothing else, you might make some friends, but hopefully, you’ll make some money, help you with your career and achieve whatever your next step might be, get past that and excel.
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