Interview With Matt Brown, Founder Of Promotional Platform Haulix

TTechnology exponentially increases, and that’s a topic we are always looking forward to covering at Dotted Music. One of the hottest new platforms on the market is a company called HAULIX, which is a platform for receiving promotional material at ease (mostly made for journalists and radio djs).

Many labels and PR agencies have been switching over to HAULIX because it’s at the top of the class right now. I did a quick Q&A with HAULIX Founder/CEO Matt Brown, and with his creativity, experience, and marketing, read on to see why HAULIX is one of those unique companies that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Alex Gilbert (Dotted Music): How did the idea of Haulix come about, and what were your initial goals?

Matt Brown (HAULIX): I had been running the webzine MetalReview.com since 2001. After our popularity increased, our mailbox started to overflow with promotional discs; literally getting hundreds of packages per month. As a computer science graduate, we’re taught how to solve problems with technology – so my gears were always turning, trying to think of new ideas. After a couple years of experiencing the overflowing mailbox and learning the music promotion process as a whole, I knew there could be a better way of doing it. I think it was some time in 2007, I thought of building a digital promo service. Piracy was a big deal already and so I knew security would be an important component of the business, not to mention a huge selling point. I threw the idea around with a software developer buddy at the consulting firm I worked at and I purchased the domain name “LeakSecure.com.” As with countless other ventures that I started in the past, this one lost its steam and died after a week or so, and that was that.

Two years later in February 2009, when the economy tanked, I lost my job as a software developer. Suddenly being dropped in the jungle of the unemployed was kind of scary and a little liberating at the same time. The digital promo service idea resurfaced and I figured there would be no better time than now to dive in head first. I ditched “Leak Secure,” took about thirty minutes of brainstorming and came up with “Haulix.” I put a Craigslist ad out for a software developer/business partner. Next day, I found out my ad was taken down due to some restriction. But in the previous day, one guy’s email made it through. We met up for happy hour, discussed my vision of how this digital promo service should run and we decided to partner up and run with it.

Our initial goal was to keep it simple and easy to use. We wanted it to do a few things really well, rather than a lot of things half-assed. Haulix was to become a tool used for managing media contacts, creating digital promos, security to deter leaking and reporting to track progress. Those core features are still at the center of what it performs today.

As a freelancer, I’ve seen many labels and PR agencies switch over to the Haulix platform, because it’s extremely user friendly, ALL of your promos are under one roof (instead of logging in and out from one ipool to another), and I also think the method of downloading both the music and hi res pics is better than anything else out there right now. You must be pretty proud of how far Haulix has gone so far?

A lot of the web-startup experts preach that if you aren’t embarrassed by your first version of your software, then you waited too long to launch. I’m glad we took that advice and launched quickly. Our first version was absolutely horrible. But being a two-man team, we were lean and we could make changes really fast. One by one, we started to get new customers. They would use our system and give us feedback. We would then quickly add enhancements. Repeat, repeat and repeat. After a year or so, we had a fairly solid platform and a handful of happy customers.

In regards to the competition, we periodically glance over to see what they are up to, but we definitely don’t analyze what they do with a microscope. Doing so would corrupt our own vision of how things should work. With that said, having all promos magically show up in one spot was definitely a strategic move to relieve having to have ten different logins/passwords. While we concentrate on an easy toolset for our customers, the journalist’s experience is equally important to us.

Any new developments in the works for Haulix that you’d like to share?

In the next 6-8 months, we will be releasing new versions of our promo platform along with a fresh new public website. Even more exciting though, is a partnership with The Orchard. I just did a web-demo for their marketing team in New York last week. For those that don’t know, The Orchard is sort of a one-stop-shop for tools for music industry professionals. That includes marketing, distribution, promotion, etc. They are going to be opening an app marketplace and Haulix was invited to be one of the first 20 apps in that marketplace. The Orchard will be introducing us to their huge list of clients. We’re honored and flattered at the same time.

It seems like there are too many bands right now. A freelancer + his/her team can only cover so much, given there are only 24 hours in one day. A few years back it was much easier. It seems like there were way less bands, physical (promotional) product was still fairly standard, and while I know many journalists prefer physical copies, digital can still fly. I spend a good chunk of my day driving around, so at least being able to burn a CD to listen to in the car is the best way for me so soak in the music I need to review. The times surely change fast. What are your thoughts?

It’s very ironic, MetalReview.com is in its 10th year and I see firsthand a dramatic decrease in the number of packages that come in the mail. We used to have a locker for packages and now we get by with a little 12″ x 5″ mailbox. A few years back, journalists totally turned their back on digital promos and I could understand why – it was a change and they were used to getting physical “prizes” in the mail each week. Fast forward to now and digital is quickly becoming the standard and journalists are beginning to accept them. Like you mentioned, I think a new issue, is the sheer number of releases hitting the market each month. There’s no way for journalists to keep up and as a result, they cherry pick what they want to review. Regardless of how a journalist prefers to consume their music, I think it’s important for a writer to write consistently for a couple months and then take a week or so off. Otherwise, they are bound to get burnt out by music-overload. On the other side of the coin, if you are a band, fishing your new album out to websites and magazines, and you want to get noticed, don’t slop your album into a YouSendIt file and then send mass emails out to the press. All bias aside, there’s a huge difference between downloading a promo from a page with no advertisements, that’s branded to the album, versus hitting YouSendIt and enduring Viagra popup ads and a hidden download link.

Leading into my next quick question. You are also very tech saavy. Out of all Haulix users, do you think more people stream the music directly from Haulix or download from Haulix then do what they do (ex. burn cd, stream via Windows Media Player, itunes, etc.)? From an analytic standpoint, what do you think?

We keep detailed statistics on resource consumption. Most journalists download the entire album and then listen to it on their own terms. Many stream a few tracks (as they cherry pick), to see if they like it. If they like it, they download. And lastly, many stream the album as they download it.

Thanks for your time, and thanks so much for making a journalist’s job much easier. Cheers! Any last words for our readers over at Dotted Music?

I would like to just say, that we are all in this industry together. Artists and labels need journalists to write about their releases. Journalists need promos so that they have something to write about, which adds content to their websites or magazines. We depend on each other. Change can be hard to handle sometimes, but if we are open-minded and continue to do things for the good of the music, we can survive through these hard economic times and have a loud future.

Thanks for the interview and support!

Comments