Interview with David King of ReceiverPublished on June 11th, 2015
At Musicticker we are keen on interviewing both established and upcoming people in the music software industry. For our next interview we reached out to David King of Receiver. Receiver is a fairly new service on the market and we thought it'd be interesting to hear thoughts from an up & comer as well as someone who comes from the web software side of the industry. I hope you enjoy this interview and be sure to give Receiver a try at getreceiver.com!
Tell us a bit about yourself - who are you and where do you come from?
During University I got involved in Toronto’s music community, first as a music blogger/photographer and eventually wanted to start throwing my own events. Over several years I booked early shows for trendsetting artists like Azari and III and ultimately helped grow Bassmentality into a well know brand in dance music alongside Zeds Dead, The Killabits, and Cody Chapman.
After graduating from University, I started a digital marketing consulting company and worked with a dozen different businesses, from what I learnt I recognized I wanted to help artists get more from the way they market themselves online and founded Receiver.
How did the idea for Receiver come about?
When Blake from Earmilk joined me as a technical co-founder, we had a ton of ideas as to how artists could improve the way they engage their truest fans. We also wanted to provide a platform whose interests were purely the success of artists who use our platform. Ultimately, we want Receiver to give artists the tools they need to effectively grow an audience, understand that audience, and monetize their most engaged fans.
Is this your first company or have you started something else before?
This is the first time I’ve worked on building an organization that can have an impact at scale.
SalaciousSound was the first thing I started with a friend, it made some money but was primarily a passion project to provide a platform for us to promote artists we believed in. All of my activities in events/bookings happened through a company called ConsultDK - this included brands like Bassmentality, and annual events that grossed mid 5 figures. Generate Creative was a company that helped small businesses market themselves better and we worked with a dozen clients in the first year of business. The thing about all of these businesses is that they were great at creating things people wanted, but didn’t have the ability to scale. With Receiver we want to build a company that is much bigger than the sum of its parts.
What are your thoughts on SoundCloud's new and harder approach to takedowns?
Soundcloud is in a tricky position. They’ve grown into a behemoth and their pricing model means that they are victims of their own success. In order to balance their books their belief is that they need to turn on advertising revenue. This means they need to side with the labels who own content they want to monetize. I think it is unfortunate that this is the path they’ve gone down because the number of artists I know personally who have build significant audiences for themselves and even had records signed by releasing bootleg remixes is really healthy for the music industry in the long run.
In light of this (previous question), do you see yourself allowing people to host/stream music on your service?
Currently we don’t host any content ourselves. Receiver is a platform for artists to distribute their content and grow their fan base. If an artist wants to share a song that isn’t on Soundcloud or Youtube at the moment they can add a direct link to the mp3 which can be streamed off their page or through our embeddable player. We will at some point be introducing hosting packages that artists will pay for. The difference in the model is that Receiver is a technology solution that enables our users (artists) to distribute the content they want.
What is the technical stack behind Receiver?
Receiver is built on the MEAN stack - Mongo Express Angular Node.
What’s your deployment process like? How often do you deploy new features?
We deploy new features and fixes every 2 weeks.
Are there any other music related web services that you're excited about?
I’m excited to see what Apple comes out with. They’ve changed the game several times before I’m sure they’ll change it again.
What do you intend to do better than the other services? Say, for example Squarespace or WordPress.com?
We simplify people’s lives. Ultimately, no matter how “easy” people say Squarespace and Wordpress are. they take a while to set up and require some design/technical expertise. One of the things we’ve found when looking at a lot of artists websites built on these platforms is that there is room for error, they can focus on their about page instead of what fans are really there for - music. Receiver’s pages are designed with goals in mind, people playing your music and signing up for updates from you.
"With Receiver we want to be as open as possible to connecting to other platforms."
What do you think about services such as Tidal releasing certain content exclusively on their own platform? Do you think music and videos should be available everywhere or do you wish to create features that allow exclusive publishing on Receiver as well?
We think exclusive content is something that needs to happen in the long run, ultimately exclusivity is what creates price discrimination in the market. The fans that are willing to pay more and engage more should get more from an artist. That being said, exclusive content on Tidal would seem to benefit Tidal more than the artist. Other than royalties they aren’t able to capture much more from those fans that are being drawn to that exclusive content. One of the things we’ve found is that artists who offer something special to the people who care tend to have more engaged fans who are easier to monetize.
Which companies do you see as your closest collaborators? Will Receiver be open for access from other services?
With Receiver we want to be as open as possible to connecting to other platforms. We are looking to give artists as much access to visitor and fan data as possible. Our goal is to remove barriers between artists and their fans. Right now artists are given an email address for any fan that signs up. As opposed to a follower or a Facebook fan, emails allow a direct line of communication between the artist and their audience, something we can never limit your reach - its up to the artist to be compelling and engaging. Another great feature that is still really young is the ability to add code snippet from third party analytics platforms to our back end. This means that you can use Receiver to collect data using the third party service of your choice.
Tell us about your team, and how it was formed.
Blake joined early on as a technical lead. We’ve known each other for years and jammed on a number of ideas. His background starting Earmilk AND having over 10 years of development experience makes him a bit of a unicorn. We brought on Sameena months later, having a background in big data product management and IP law makes her an invaluable resource.
What do you think about musicians advertising on Facebook? There seems to be loads of fake accounts that can eat your marketing budget and actually block real fans from seeing your content.
Facebook advertising is one of the best ways to reach people based on their psychographic profile. If you make a certain type of music and want to target fans of that music to get in front of them it's one of the cheapest and most effective ways to do it. We’ve use Facebook ads to reach people in our target demographic and the fact is they work. The frustration with Facebook for most musicians is that they are spending money to reach people that have already expressed interest, and they don’t know who of those fans is no longer interested. This is one of the ways that email can be much more effective. You get to know who has read, opened, and clicked on the messages you send out, you can clearly see fake emails (they bounce).
"Cutting through that noise is tremendously difficult. This is why we believe identifying the people who love your music is tremendously important to success."
Professional marketers rank Social Media as one of the hardest ways to market to consumers. Frankly, the issue isn’t that Facebook costs money, or the fake accounts, its the fact that it often seems to be the only part of an artist's online strategy. Facebook Fans are a great vanity metric, but as far as quantifying the success of marketing something they aren’t a tangible asset that you can truly take advantage of.
Receiver has remarketing features through an integration with AdRoll. Why? Do you have a success story to share?
Ad Roll isn’t a feature that a lot of artists have really dug into just yet. The marketing tools around sharing and tweeting for downloads have been tremendously successful. Thugli release their remix of Vic Mensa and Kanye West’s U Mad using Receiver. It was covered by several publications including Hypetrak, Earmilk, and Run The Trap. They created so much buzz on Twitter that Vic Mensa asked his followers to send a link and promptly supported the track, telling his followers “DJs go download that shit”
What are the biggest problems artists are facing these days?
Noise, pun intended. Ultimately there are more people making music than ever before. Historically the barriers to entry to producing and distributing music were tremendously high. Today anyone with or without musical talent can put their music out to the world. Cutting through that noise is tremendously difficult. This is why we believe identifying the people who love your music is tremendously important to success.
The beautiful side of this problem is that more people feel empowered to grow a fanbase than ever before, and niche audiences are more accessible than ever before. You no longer need to have a hit on radio to reach people, and if 10,000 people love you, you can probably start to live off of your art.
Is there anything you would like to say about your product? Here’s your chance to advertise.
Ultimately, we just want to help artists succeed. While we are building and learning about how our product can help artists turn listeners into fans we’ve often helped out in a number random ways, ranging a bit of legal advice or connecting them with someone in our network who could help them grow their career.