There’s no ‘perfect’ time to be a music tech startup, but recent events have presented more challenges than ever. Supply chain constraints, contracting economies, shrinking profits, and layoffs are hitting the tech sector hard. Businesses are being advised to hoard cash and adjust to a climate where raising money isn’t as easy as it was in the past.
Part of staying nimble as a music tech startup in 2022 means having the vision to navigate these challenges as they arise. A revenue model that is scalable and resilient means the company has more resources to stretch further. It also means having a founder that is equipped to drive the company and prepared to get their hands dirty.
Discipline is one of the most essential aspects of maintaining a startup in this economic climate. Companies who can’t adapt to this new way of operating must feel a degree of whiplash. Look no further than Mark Zuckerberg’s address to employees at the Meta town hall meeting last month.
Social networking startup Vampr is well-positioned to weather the storm as it runs a small and frugal team, with senior members wearing multiple hats. The company has been able to survive and grow for over six years now, stretching $3.5 million of capital investment across the same period. Vampr has a team of 30 people who are working together to achieve new revenue goals each month, despite the current state of the economy.
Vampr’s fundraising journey has been a colorful one. The company raised capital from two early-stage venture capital firms, angel investors, family and friends, and community-funding rounds. So far, Vampr has raised around $2.1 million of its total funding from its user-investors.
The company’s first Reg CF round was launched with the vision of relaunching the company based on all its learnings to-date. Call it a slight pivot. Vampr says it was a risk that paid off, once its community of user-investors were on board. “We learned from that first experience that the real value in crowdfunding was converting users into lifelong brand ambassadors who had skin in the game and a vested interest in the company’s success,” says Josh Simons, Founder & CEO of Vampr.
Because Vampr focused on its community of user-investors, they’ve enjoyed consistent customer input when shaping their product roadmap. One example of this is the launch of the company’s Vampr Academy, which is a Masterclass-style series of courses that address the knowledge gap observable in early-stage creatives. Vampr Academy is accessible for only $19/month and provides guidance to creatives without the overhead expense of a university education.
Vampr plans to build out the Academy over time around its user’s feedback. The company plans to experiment with celebrity presenters and music professors until it finds a unique balance that its users appreciate and value.
Success stories for users of Vampr come in all shapes and sizes. One shared with Digital Music News is the UK production duo Saltwives. The duo frequents the Vampr app to scout for writers and topliners for collaboration. David Phelan spoke with us about how they use the platform.
“I appreciate collaborators who have complementary skill sets, creative honesty, and people I enjoy hanging out with. People who take personal responsibility for what we are making,” Phelan told Digital Music News. “Also sometimes when I’m working with new writers and artists, they can lean back a little and expect the more experienced people to take care of making sure the song is great. You should always aim to take responsibility for the song you are working on, even if you are a first time songwriter with the world’s biggest hitmaker – people really appreciate that effort.”
Vampr says collaborating with other businesses in music tech is much the same, with many of the same challenges. Part of staying nimble in this business means building a network of supportive, two-way relationships with other businesses.
“We placed importance upon this when it came to finding a sub-publisher for Vampr Publishing,” says Baz Palmer, Co-Founder & Head of Product at Vampr. “We went slow in our approach because we wanted to find a partner with a compatible culture and who supported our artist-first publishing model where Vampr only gets paid if we deliver results for our artists.”
Vampr is working with Songtrust and Think Music on the sync side of the business. The company is about mid-way through its biggest funding round yet, working with Keiretsu Forum to raise an additional $3.5 million to accelerate revenues and user adoption of the platform. This puts Vampr in an excellent position moving forward, even in these economically uncertain times.