Tim Mortensen is placing a serious bet that the record album is alive and well. And the CEO of hot Chicago startup Soundsupply may very well win going away.
Soundsupply is one of the emerging startups reinventing the music industry and shaping the way we discover music. Launched in 2012, Soundsupply bundles 10 digital albums into called “Drops” and sells them for $15 for 10 days on the Soundsupply website (similar to the way TeeFury sells distinctive T shirts for 24 hours at a time, thus stoking demand for a product with a limited shelf life.) The company recently received funding from Lightbank and appears to have tapped into a consumer appetite for digital albums: in 2012, digital album sales increased even as compact discs continued their downward slide, and for the first half of 2013, digital album sales continue to increase, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Soundsupply has created 10 Drops already — and according to Fast Company, artists featured on Soundsupply drops can get rewarded more handsomely than they would on streaming services like Spotify.
And Soundsupply doesn’t cater to the kind of pop stars you’ll find topping the Billboard charts, either; rather, the company hand-picks music from the kind of emerging artists that only your hippest friend has a knack for discovering. For instance, Soundsupply recently collaborated with Cleveland’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest to offer a Drop of albums and one ebook from artists appearing at the 2013 WMC Fest, including folk/alt country artist Tristen, indie/emo rock band Braid, and alt rockers Signals Midwest and Diamond Youth, among others.
Drop 10, which went live on August 25, features (for 10 days only) another set of alternative artists such as indie rockers Their/They’re/There and Eli Mardock. We’re not talking Drops for Katy Perry and One Direction. And this is where Soundsupply is a force for good: a lesser-known artist like Barrow or Gates needs someone like Soundsupply to find an audience. The Katy Perrys, Jay Z’s, and Justin Timberlakes of the world do not.
Eli Mardock, Featured in Drop 10
Mortensen, who is on tour with his band Into It. Over It., took time to share with me how Soundsupply works and why the likes of Hypebot and TechCrunch have been singing the company’s praises. In the following exclusive conversation, he discusses where his love for music came from and how he lives his passion as both a musician and a CEO. And make no mistake: he is devoted to music and wants to share that devotion with you.
Into It. Over It.
“Whether I’m playing a show or curating a Drop, I want the same result of people experiencing something new and memorable,” he says. He and his team live music, whether playing it, reading blogs, or listening to it, in an eternal quest to discover and share up-and-coming talent with the world.
“Ultimately, we feel that our community of people that buy a Drop are the awesome type of music fans that every band wants,” he says. And he intends for Soundsupply to help those awesome fans find awesome bands.
Music is obviously in your blood. You’re a member of a band and CEO of a music/technology start-up. Where did your passion for music come from, and how did it develop?
I grew up in a really DIY music scene, so playing in band was just as much a social experience as it was an artistic outlet, at least in beginning. My first was (fittingly) a ska band that was way more concerned about having fun and dressing ridiculously than writing songs. My whole social ring of band friends gradually progressed to constantly challenge each other to write more engaging and unique songs until everyone came into their own.