Music promotion software company Haulix was started back in 2009 with the goal of simplifying the process of promoting music for publicists and record labels. Recently, the company’s founder Matt Brown took the time to answer some of my questions about what drove him to create Haulix, some new features, what separates the company from its competitors, and more.
While I’m familiar with Haulix, unless you’re someone working within or adjacent to the press or publicity portions of the music industry, you may not have heard the name previously. That said, I can assure you that you have likely listened to music that has been promoted via the company from independent artists to widely known names such as blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, Papa Roach, Slipknot, and Metallica. Many publicists and labels use the software to help simplify music promo while also getting the added bonus of watermarking security on tracks and insights when sending out pitches.
Building on a solid foundation, the company continues to expand and release new advancements such as their new press-person login and new promo duplication feature, plus more to come (hinted at in the answers below). So, be on the look out for what is to come next from Haulix and how they will continue to make new waves in music promotion.
More information: https://haulix.com/
Q: Let’s start this off with a bit of an introduction. Would you mind tell me a bit about how you got your start in the music industry, why it’s important to you, and your journey leading up to Haulix?
A: My biological father, who left when I was very young, was a drummer. Of the few photos I have of him, one has me sitting on his lap behind the drum kit at around the age of 4. There is no doubt in my mind that I inherited some natural ability when it came to playing the drums and just being able to follow music in general. In the early 80’s I would sit on the floor with my record player and listen to Hall & Oates and Michael Jackson; point being, there was always music playing in the house and from a young age, music was special to me.
As I got older, playing in the school band was something I was drawn to. Mid-90’s my grandpa bought me my first drum set. By the late nineties, I was in a local cover band playing Stone Temple Pilots and all of the other popular alternative stuff at that time.
Early 2000’s I decided to get my Computer Science degree. I eventually wanted to figure out a way to fuse computer programming and music together and hopefully make a career out of it. I built a popular metal music blog and ran that with some like-minded friends for several years and that was my first glimpse into how music promotion worked. I noticed publicists were literally mailing CDs to bloggers, magazine and radio stations and our mailbox was overflowing with CDs every month. As a result, the music usually always leaked and the postage and manufacturing of the CDs was really expensive.
I thought there had to be a more efficient way of doing it, taking advantage of the internet and software. 2008-ish when the economy tanked, I lost my consulting job and decided to dive headfirst into being an entrepreneur. Jotting some ideas down on a little yellow post-it note, I came up with the name “Haulix” in about 30 minutes. We built the first version of the platform in 2009 and one by one I contacted record labels, asking them to sign up. Some real money started to come in and I had the big “a-ha moment” of realizing this can legit become a career.
Q: You founded Haulix back in 2009 with the goal of simplifying music promotion and that goal has seemingly stayed constant, but we all know the music industry has changed in that time. What was your focus at the time to achieve that goal of simplification, and how has it progressed to accommodate the changing industry?
A: Our core services haven’t changed very much. Throughout the years, the challenge has been being able to scale everything up as our customer base has grown. Yeah, in the beginning we considered the magic component of the service to be the watermarking technology. Watermarks are just little bits of inaudible data scattered throughout a music file that sort of act as fingerprints that reference a person in our database. We eventually discovered that the real bread and butter was being able to give publicists and labels an easy way to email our digital promos with all of our various layers of security large scale to a massive global audience and have enough computing power to support streaming and downloading. Right now, our customers are sending out 3 million promo invites per month.
Q: As the music industry increasingly relies on the internet to generate revenue, the competition in your field is likely to rise. What separates Haulix from its peers? Why should someone choose your service over another?
A: We know many of the people who use our services by first name and we’re always proactively keeping the two-way communication channel open with them. That in itself shows the level of passion and commitment we have with taking care of our customers. There are competitors who make prospective customers jump through hoops with a sales call before even knowing what their prices are. There are competitors who take two days to respond to a support request. Doing a quick Twitter search, you can clearly see many of our competitors have shitty software because people are publicly complaining about it all the time.
We’re constantly improving. Every single customer of ours – big or small – always gets the red carpet treatment. Our pricing is public and transparent, and we have over a decade of industry momentum. Someone who signs up with us will get taken well care of from day one. Not to mention, there’s a very good chance the press people in their contact list already receive promos from someone else using Haulix.
Q: Working within music press, I see publicists using your platform in my inbox regularly and have witnessed firsthand how the platform has evolved. What recent developments are you most proud of releasing, and what additional advancements may be on the horizon? Any plan in the foreseeable future for a Haulix mobile app?
A: We recently pushed out a press-person login screen with an improved overall experience. Anyone who gets promos from one or more of our customers has easy access to their promo library. They can upload an avatar and define which genres of music they are interested in. We consolidate all of their music and offer it in one secure place. We also built a subscription management screen that lets them unsubscribe or resubscribe to the various publicists who send promos their way.
This weekend, we deployed a new promo duplication feature. Our customers are able to make multiple copies of a promo that all share one set of music files. Each promo can get customized with its own specific settings and they will save a ton of storage space.
Our promos currently do look and sound great in mobile devices. You just need a wifi connection and a mobile browser. As far as a native mobile app, it will most likely be something for the end of this year — we have a few other large projects we need to knock out first.
Q: Speaking of a mobile app, I follow your social channels where your content seems to focus on music business education and careers. I have learned quite a bit about the music industry by reading, watching, and paying attention to what is posted. What value do you place in helping others understand how the industry operates and how to navigate it?
A: Business is way more fulfilling when, in addition to serving happy paying customers, you give back and educate. We’re in this because of a passion for the industry and it really feels good to hear of someone landing a job from our popular job board or a college student watching a video and appreciating learning something new.
Q: There are still a lot of artists and bands that believe there are shortcuts to success in this business and unfortunately spend a lot of money to find out that is not the case. Some of your competitors offer contact lists with new accounts, but to my knowledge Haulix does not. What is your stance on giving people access to press contacts? Personally, I enjoy building a connection with the bands, publicists, managers, etc. that are asking for press. Do you feel those in the industry should make organic connections with press outlets? Which has more value to everyone involved?
A: We are actually going to be expanding our services by offering managed promotions – hopefully by the middle of the year. We have built relationships with thousands of people in radio and magazines/blogs since starting back in 2009. With managed promotions, our staff would take care of creating the promo and sending out the email blasts to our own lists of radio stations and other industry professionals.
Anyone can buy a junk list of contacts and spam them with their promos. Like you mentioned, organic connections are a must if you want quality engagement. Press outlets get bombarded with lots of promo emails and so if you have actually talked to them and have somewhat of a relationship, you’ll have a much better chance of them opening your emails and listening to your music.
Q: You founded Haulix over a decade ago, and there are still regular developments being released. As a business owner, what would you say are your secrets to success? What is something you wish you would have known before launching the company that you can share with others to help them get a head start to their dreams?
A: The customer isn’t always right, but the customer is always king. First and foremost, roll out the red carpet and take care of the customers you have. Every email and phone call you do is a direct reflection of your company and instead of treating it as a burden, look at it as an opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face. The next time they are talking to someone about your company, they will spread the good word based off of the positive experience they had.
Running a business is a marathon. If you are looking for a quick payout and are only thinking about money, your product/service will suffer.
Throughout the last 20 years, I started a few businesses and websites that didn’t amount to anything but I never gave up and eventually one of them did become my livelihood. If you want something bad enough, sooner or later it’s gonna happen. Execute and keep pushing. Realize that you’re gonna make lots of good decisions and lots of regretful decisions and some of it is pure luck.
Q: With the longevity of the company under your belt, it’s clear you have developed a great product and continue to make it better. So outside of developing such a useful and beneficial product, what do you take the most pride in from your work?
A: I just saw a Tweet yesterday that read, “@Haulix best customer service in the music business! Thank you for support[ing] independent artists! Check them out!” Hearing real people taking time out of their day to publicly say things like that always makes me feel good about what we do.
I also take pride in treating our employees well. As a team, we share in putting our little dent in the universe, touching many of the biggest artists in the world — and for music lovers, we feel like we’re living the dream.
We’re 100% remote, and so we get together for steak dinners and a few VIP concerts throughout the year. Everyone gets a $1000 Christmas bonus. We all like video games and music so it’s fun to get together.
Q: While there is much to look forward to, we know COVID impacted the music industry heavily. How has Haulix adapted to this so-called “new normal” that we are all facing? What changes have you implemented for the time being, and will any remain in effect following the pandemic?
A: We lucked out. While concerts pretty much stopped all together, many of our customers, especially publicists, have been busier than ever with lots of clients and material to promote. My wife and I actually got COVID back in March 2020 when this all started and it knocked me on my ass for two weeks – pure hell. Aside from that, we haven’t slowed down and we continue to push forward working on new features that improve our services.
Q: Many people may not realize how integral Haulix is to the promotional process of music. Thousands of albums are promoted through your platform before reaching the public. You promote many of those records through your channels, live events, and podcasts. That’s a lot of music, but what music do you personally enjoy? Could you spotlight any records you’re looking forward to in 2021 or who you currently have been listening to most? Maybe give a shoutout to some artists that you feel deserve more attention than they have been getting?
A: It’s crazy how much music gets released and just how easy it is to buy an album now-a-days. It’s wonderful how I can have an album from the past pop into my head and 60 seconds later, I buy it through Amazon and it’s in Apple Music to enjoy forever. On the other hand, with leaking and streaming services — or how little artists make from streaming and how cheap a digital album is, music seems devalued. To me, $9 for an album, even if I listen to it one time is worth it. The fact that for $9 I can own it and play it hundreds of times, resulting in hours of entertainment — I don’t know, it just seems like a small price to pay.
As for specific music… one gem from 2020 stands out to me. Stabbing Westward are making a come-back and on Halloween they surprised us with “Hallowed Hymns.” It’s only got 4 tracks (covers), but it’s so well done. I actually got the cover art skull morphed into a creepy castle tattooed on my bicep!
I’m either listening to 90’s alternative/hard-rock or 80’s new wave like Depeche Mode/New Order. I also love Swedish melodic death metal and most other brutal death metal. I buy everything Unique Leader Records puts out without even listening to it first.