Confronting challenges and paving the way with advanced ideas only scratches the surface of what Haulix brings to the music industry software game.
For five years now, James Shotwell,Haulix’s Director of Customer Engagement, has developed marketing strategies that maximize Haulix founder Matt Brown’s revolutionary secure streaming software methods. James Shotwell has spent the better part of the last 10 years creating a name for himself in the constantly morphing realm of music. While he is recently known for leading multiple media publications, Shotwell’s role with streaming platform Haulix has shown the company’s true modern understanding of what it takes to keep online streaming secure. For a fair monthly price with different options, Haulix offers a streaming service that publicists and journalists alike can rely on to keep their artists’ music on lockdown. With promo customization and a simple, yet intuitive interface, Haulix is a dream.
Haulix History and Future
Let’s start off by talking about your role in Haulix, James. What’s your day-to-day like?
The biggest perk of my job is that I rarely have two days that are exactly the same. As the Director of Customer Engagement, my role revolves around communication. Sometimes that means waking up at 7AM to chat with a client in Sweden, but other days I’m recording podcasts with popular or emerging talent. The goal, however, is always the same: To raise awareness for Haulix by creating educational resources, making sales calls, and providing top-tier customer support.
How did you get started with Haulix, and how has it differed from the other roles you’ve had?
I landed my job with Haulix through Twitter. I was working at a music startup in Boston that was struggling to maintain funding when I initially contact Matt, the company founder. I expressed interest in the company’s approach to marketing, which at the time was practically nonexistent, and he asked me what I would do if given the opportunity to represent the brand. I think I sent 5-10 ideas, including the launch of our blog (HaulixDaily). Matt liked the ideas and gave me a small, part-time role to prove myself. Five and a half years later, I’m still here.
To the second part of your question, it’s hard to compare what I do now to any other paid role I had in music. I wake every day to confront the challenge of finding new ways to engage an overstimulated audience while also keeping an eye on changing trends in the industry itself. We don’t clock out at 5PM. We don’t start at 9AM. I’ve never had more freedom or more responsibility in my entire adult life.
Haulix has been creating waves in the music industry software scene for nine years now. Can you tell us a little about Haulix’s history and where CEO/Founder Matt Brown started?
Matt Brown was a developer by day and music blogger by night prior to starting Haulix. Back then, artists hoping to get their upcoming release covered would have to mail actual CDs to people all over the world in advance of an album’s street date. That was not only a costly promotional tactic, but it never guaranteed coverage. People would spend thousands hoping someone cared enough to cover their music, but also that a stranger they’d never met wouldn’t leak their creation.
With all this in mind, and to cut down on the growing stack of CDs piling up around his house, Matt launched Haulix. Our system makes it easy to distribute pre-release music to hundreds or even thousands of people for a fraction of the cost formerly associated with new album promotion. We also make it easy to track consumption through our analytics tools, as well as identify pirates in the event of album leaks.
Besides recognizing the large need for anti-piracy in the music industry with the rise of the internet, how else is Haulix paving the way for industry software?
Our goal is to become a one-stop shop for all things music promotion. One of the ways artists unknowingly raise the risk of leaks is through uploading albums to multiple places prior to release. They might be sharing music through Haulix, but they also use SoundCloud or Bandcamp to host streams prior to release. We work to change that trend through educational resources made available on our site and blog, as well as through our podcast (Inside Music). Our users can upload their album, create custom landing pages, and distribute private invitations to experience their music through our system in a matter of clicks. That, paired with our strong security measures, greatly lowers the risk involved with sharing music prior to its street date.
Can you speak on specific changes the software has seen in the last year?
Many of our biggest 2018 changes have taken place outside the public eye. We’ve overhauled every page of the client experience, introduced two-factor authentication (a first in our market), and laid the groundwork for our first mobile app release in 2019. We’ve also been working on a new public site, which we hope to release before Christmas, as well as a tool that enables clients to schedule their emails for distribution two weeks in advance.
What separates Haulix from other secure music servicing and streaming software?
In addition to our security efforts, which I’ve discussed at length already, we provide round the clock customer service that no competitor can match. With clients around the world, it’s not unusual for us to receive support requests at all hours of the day. Nine times out of ten, those requests are answered within twenty minutes of receipt.
Beyond that, we also take pride in our role as an educator in the industry. Through our blog, podcast, and conference appearances we aim to inform amateurs and professionals alike about the ever-evolving music business landscape. We believe the best music, not to mention the best music promotion, stems from people who have a strong grasp on what is happening in music today. What works last year probably won’t have the same effect today. What worked five years ago is basically ancient history. We recognize the fact that not everyone has time to read every development happening across the business, so we do our best to simplify the most important information in a manner that is easy (and quick) for people to digest.
Branding and Marketing
At what point did CEO/Founder Matt Brown and yourself realize the need to complement Haulix with branding techniques, such as the user’s ability to fully customize promos?
Differentiation is the key to success in any market. That goes for us, yes, but also for our clients. With most notable music influencers receiving dozens of albums per month for consideration it is important to make sure your release stands out from the rest. Services like Soundcloud and Bandcamp are great for ease of access, but their UI works in such a way that every album looks the same. We feel a promo page should reflect the brand/aesthetic of the artist whose music is being promoted on that page.
Beyond basic customization, what other steps has Haulix taken to provide a service that will help gain a journalist’s attention?
That is two-fold. On the one hand, we have become a recognized brand in the industry used by some of music’s biggest names (Chance The Rapper, Metallica, blink-182, Prince). That association has helped us become a ‘standard’ in digital promotional distribution. When someone sees a Haulix link they know it’s coming from someone who has invested time and energy into their upcoming album release.
We’ve also put a lot of effort in simplifying the consideration process, especially for those who receive numerous promotional invitation per month. Through the My Promos page journalists are able to see every album they have available to them on our system. They can view albums by release date, submit review links, and even remove promos they’ve chosen not to cover.
In the new year, we plan to take these efforts further with our first-ever mobile app. Though, I can’t really give you any details about that just yet.
From a publicist’s standpoint, what are a few Haulix features you suggest becoming a pro in?
It’s been said a million times in a million ways, but relationships really do mean more than just about everything else in music. Learn to network with your peers (there are several articles on this in our blog) and do your best to establish meaningful relationships. It is better to have ten contacts you know on a personal basis than ten-thousand you blast with press release after press release just hoping to get a response. We’ve seen both types use our system, and no matter the quality or genre of the talent it’s the relationships the promoting party has with their contacts that makes all the difference.
When did you decide to fully commit to the Haulix weekly music industry job board?
The job board arose from our desire to further our educational efforts. We realized we were preparing people for work in music, but not providing any paths to employment. The Music Industry Job Board is one small step toward correcting that flaw, and we hope to develop it further in 2019 with the release of a completely reimagined blog.
Where can companies submit jobs to the board, and are there any requirements?
Companies can submit job openings to me directly via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is no cost associated with listings at this time, but we do ask for an in-depth description of the role, as well as any requirements for applicants. The more information an employer can provide, the better.
What are a few goals the Haulix team has for 2019?
Our goals for 2019 are to further empower our clients and simplify access for their contacts. To do this, we will be rolling out numerous developments, including the aforementioned app, and working to strengthen our system as a whole.
From a promotional standpoint, we also hope to make appearances at conferences and schools we’ve yet to visit. We have several pitches out now, but as of right now our calendar is pretty open. You can learn more about hosting one our events by contacting me: email@example.com.
Music industry software is something that many of us are kind of in the dark about. Can you offer a few pieces of insight or advice when it comes to remaining secure across the board?
The biggest (and simplest) thing anyone can do is to update your passwords on a regular basis. Adding numbers and symbols to a password can help, but the best method for ensuring security is to use a string of unrelated words. We advise people use three to four words in their passwords, and that they use unique passwords for every site.
If that seems confusing, don’t fret. For $3 a month anyone can join 1password, which is a service that creates a ‘vault’ for passwords that is incredibly secure. We are not associated with them on any level, but we do use their product.
Any other points you’d like to add?
We do a lot of blog interviews, but this is one of the first I’ve participated in that feels like you understand the product. Thank you for taking the time to develop original questions.
Be sure to follow Haulix on social media and check out James’ Inside Music podcast!