This is the Unstarving Musician podcast. I am your host Robonzo. This podcast features conversations with me, indie music artists and industry professionals. It’s all intended to help other indie music artists be better at marketing, business, the creative process and all the other things that empower us to do more of what we love. Make music.
I’m getting pretty good at this. You’re What are you like, What are you talking about? It’s the timing. It’s the timing of that make music thing I get excited when I get it right. I’ve been doing it sort of like live lately. Welcome back. I hope that you’re doing well. In this weird, weird time. If you want to check in, I’m interested in knowing how you’re doing, just go to UnstarvingMusician.com/feedback to email, direct message text, leave me a voicemail, whatever man. I would love to hear from you. It’s afternoon for me. Temperatures are lovely this afternoon. It’s 29 Celsius, which is about 84 Fahrenheit. Yesterday it was 26 Celsius 79 Fahrenheit, felt like winter in the tropics. I mixed some drums today I was at fun, laid down some acoustic drum tracks for a good friend who gave me this funk tune he’s written. I love it. Hopefully I’m going fast enough for him. I… I’m little slow lately with the recording. I love it though. I gotta get faster. I want to be a quick turnaround guy with quality work. It’s my goal.
This is another alt in between episode by the way. It’s one of a three part series related to the world of online music collaboration. And, man, it’s really turned out to be more than what I expected. It’s pretty exciting stuff. I’m very intrigued. Tract is arguably one of the more interesting approaches. I would love to check it out someday. I’ll tell you more about that in a second.
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So yeah, the topic of this episode online collaboration is related to an article I’m working on. And like I said, it has turned out to be super interesting. My guest in this particular episode is Grant Tilbury have Trackd the mobile app. It’s it’s an eight track studio for capturing ideas which are shareable via the app or on social. It’s also a platform for collaborating on a track online. Pretty cool stuff. I actually found out about them because of an article on the Abbey Road Studios website. That’s pretty cool for them.
By the way, before we get to my conversation with the guest. The question of the day is do you have an artist or band website? Are you happy with it? Do you not even have one? If not, I want you to check out Bandzoogle it’s the easiest all in one pro website platform for musicians and bands and I care because having a solid website is one of the things that you can do to ensure that you are in control, not control control of the business of music and your fan based community. And community is where it is all at for indie artists. If you don’t yet have your own website or you are unhappy with it, go to bandzoogle.com to start a 30-day free trial. You can use the promo code robonzo to get 15% off your first year. How cool is that? And plans start at just $8.29 a month. It’s really easy to use. You don’t have to worry about plugins or security updates because Bandzoogle takes care of that for you. I use it and I love it. You can check out my website at Robonzo.com. Check it out for yourself. Go to Bandzoogle.com, use the promo code robonzo, R O B O N Z O to start your free trial today.
So yeah Trackd the app in this conversation that Grant Tilbury is part of, they caught the attention of Dave Stewart, that guy from the Eurythmics, he actually ran a contest on the app, submitted a track and ran a contest for collaboration. That is a cool story. And they have other stories like that too. Grant and his team believe that a new set of tools are emerging that can help artists make money with their craft while helping them collaborate. We talked about this, as well as trends that the track team is watching questions they want artists to help them answer. That’s you. And their philosophy and approach to this growing space and a whole lot more. It’s a great conversation. I hope you enjoy it here is me and Grant Tilbury have Trackd.
I don’t know if you know, but you guys were mentioned in a blog post or article by Abbey Road Studios, which is how I found out about you.
Grant Tilbury 5:59
Oh, fantastic. Yes, funnily enough, I did this, because an artist said the other week that they discovered, discovered the app through that article. So it’s brilliant, very grateful to them for sharing that.
Yeah, it was it was a good article too. I’ve, as you might imagine, I’ve gone through, you know, several such articles and theirs was actually pretty good news informative. And, you know, it’s a, it’s a nice source to, to see someone mentioned in and to be mentioned in.
Grant Tilbury 6:29
Yeah, absolutely. It’s an amazing place and obviously, sort of incredible history. Funny enough, I’m just around the corner from there. Now. That’s right. I’m in London. how brilliant.
I’m really fascinated with the online music collaboration space. And I, as soon as I started digging into it, I discovered these things that I didn’t know a few weeks ago like Tract and SoundStorming and Kompoz and all these different approaches. And yeah, anyway, yeah. So it’s really cool to talk with you. So Tell me a little bit about the type of musicians or music makers that use Tract.
Grant Tilbury 7:07
Right, so we have the whole kind of spectrum radio of music makers. So we have somebody from complete beginners, through to hobbyists through to professional musicians on the platform, you know, we have people from all around the world has 161 countries now that we have registered users in… they play everything from you know, the traditional instrument, bass, there’s drummers. You know, there’s people that they play brass instruments, strings, etc. And yeah, so it’s basically right across the musical spectrum really. So I think we have we have people registered themselves of playing didgeridoo, for example. So we have quite well, niche and specific instruments through to you know, lots and lots of people who are a guitar player and piano players and and, you know, across the across the whole board Really?
That’s great. I would have to say that I think you’re the first that haven’t spoken to a lot of people in the space yet but you’re the first to say that. I think it seems that there’s uh everyone’s kind of in a bit more of a niche in that regards, I think, although Kompoz but they’re they’re a different model they probably have a somewhat wide wide range of players but I know they have a pretty you know, definitely a predominant number of them so that’s interesting.
Grant Tilbury 8:36
Yeah, I think the diff yeah it’s it’s quite interesting how different different services I guess attract different types of musician. I think by and large at the moment we’re seeing a lot of we do have a lot of producers on Trackd. Kind of putting their, their music up the top line and things like that. There’s an awful lot of that. But there is a I guess, because the multitrack nature of what we built, we do get a lot of what I would consider, I guess traditional rock and pop musicians playing guitar, bass, drums and piano to capture their ideas. So we do… I probably argue that the majority of our audience here to sort of play a kind of like more traditional type songwriters in that sense.
Yeah, as opposed to like, maybe electronics or beats or things like that.
Grant Tilbury 9:36
Yeah, yeah. We cater for that for everybody, of course. But given that that’s the kind of that’s the kind of my observation we’re working with the artists that we have now on Trackd.
That’s appealing to me. Although I’m I’m very intrigued by the what I consider another world you know, with electronic music and DJs and beats and everything, and learning little by little more and more about it because of the podcast, but and I have recognized that there are services that cater quite well to, you know, that other part of the the musician ecosystem. Are there any trends that you guys are watching in the online collaboration space that you find particularly interesting?
Grant Tilbury 10:20
And yeah, I think I think we live in a fascinating time. You know, I think collaboration is, is is becoming definitely more accessible to more people, more people realize that they can do it using, you know, using tools such as their phone and there’s, and I think, I think music collaboration as an idea has definitely gone from strength to strength. Trend wise, you know, I think there’s a willingness to kind of mix audiences, you know, I think that the whole next lot of, you know, people who are going to be adopted streaming platforms and things like that, you know are going to be from the non Western markets and things like that. So what I what I’m finding is people are active… I’ve had songwriters actually asked me are you have you..? If you’ve got any musicians from Latin America, for example, we’d love to do a collaboration. I guess there’s this kind of adventuring into sort of different musical worlds in their kind of attempt to kind of establish themselves in different you know, different music worlds essentially. So that’s one. I was really I was listening to the new Pitchfork podcast this week, Puja Patel’s doing, and it was a fascinating article, top piece on on her show about you know, this kind of like music memes essentially, so there was a the example they bought up there was a producer called yung cxreal and, who’d collaborated with a rap artist called Baby Frankie. And they had this song, which went kind of viral on Tik Tok. And I thought it was quite interesting, you know, it was, was that purposely built music track to kind of ignites, you know, creativity inspiration for people using Tik Tok and collaborate I see collaborate on the visual side of things. So I think this is kind of like, kind of merge of music and visual media and stuff a moment, I think. platforms like Tik Tok are kind of exploding that wide open. And, you know, I think there’s probably hopefully it’s going to be some sort of a new musical, you know sort of like also new musical genres appearing or, you know, and I think that this whole kind of this whole kind of world we live in at the moment, obviously, during the pandemic is kind of excelerated a lot of this kind of stuff. You know, I think I think there’s going to be a whole kind of new era of music collaboration with different outlets and different purposes.
My wife reads a lot of financial news which is where I get a lot of my news (from her), and she mentioned in an article about Tii Tok and there was a guy on there who’s a big I guess privacy advocate or he watches it anyway. I don’t know how advic advocates right we’re but he watches it a lot. And he was expressing a lot of concern about Tik Tok and we all know or maybe some of us don’t you it’s a Chinese owned company and that they’re kind of have kind of gone to new extremes with tracking and you know, he admittedly is not a fan of Google or Facebook even on these regards, but but actually said that they do much better. And I mean, his his cautionary word was if you have children on on Tik Tok, you know, you really need to know that this stuff’s going on and rethink whether you want them on there if you can, if you have any control on on such things. Have you guys heard any concern in the music community about this?
Grant Tilbury 14:12
And I haven’t personally but I’m sure I’m sure there’s a lot of people thinking about it.I guess, you know, we kind of just sort of monitor various news feeds, you know, I think it’s obviously a geopolitical thing. Between right between the US and China. [Yeah.] It’s fascinating. I noticed in the last week banned tik tok for example, so I guess I guess it’ll be interesting to see what happens there you know, when you when you kind of start shutting down platforms and internet in different ways. It’s obviously gonna, it’s kind of like a… It’s strange we live in this completely connected global world? And we’ve kind of got the meet these these, I guess, nation states kind of figuring out how do we control this? Can you control it even? I think privacy is an issue that needs to be needs to be tackled and, and looked at with with closest scrutiny and how we deal with that. I don’t know. Much more smarter people I can come up with solutions and answers for that. But yeah, I think it’s I think it’s fascinating from a music perspective, I guess. I guess just just just try and be as careful revision is on what data you’re given different different companies or know to try and I guess, do your research on on on different companies and what they stand for and what they do with your data. If they allow you to do that sort of thing. I think that’s best practice I, I should imagine.
Yeah. And I know that the music industry is paying starting to pay a lot more attention to platforms like yours, so maybe, maybe they’ll help they will help us wrap our wrap our arms around these issues as particularly for the the betterment of privacy for the artists, of course, and their fans too, because obviously, we’re sort of walking into a new world of artists fan collaboration with all these tools and, and some of those many of those fans and supporters being becoming part of the creative process. So
Grant Tilbury 16:31
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, I think, now as well as I mean, you have to be vigilant and careful, absolutely. But on the flip side, is that you know, you mentioned it, then you’re like, there’s a whole, there’s a whole. There’ll be a whole new set of tools, hopefully before much longer for, you know, for artists to exploit and to know, create revenues and new opportunities will be there. You know, and hopefully, it will make more level playing field I guess, but for musicians around the world to, you know, to earn money from their craft and to establish themselves.
Yeah, I know that Tract has been around since before COVID-19. But has the the COVID crisis had some noticeable impacts on change of usage, you get an uptick or, you know, some other things you observed?
Grant Tilbury 17:24
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we were. We’ve been around since 20 2016. We’ve certainly launched the product, the version, the current version that you can find at the moment. You know, we we had a steady, steady rate of installations and people checking us out and using it, but then also March hit and it doubled overnight. It was absolutely is absolutely incredible to see the the amount of installations we were doing on a week to week basis, just just come have just go through the roof really, I mean, it’s an awful situation, that aspect of it into our hands, providing a tool for people to you know for artists to, you know, kind of capture their ideas and help with their songwriting and stuff. So I guess, you know, it’s been, it’s been good that we’ve been able to help musicians who kind of found themselves stuck at home, and figuring out what to do next, amidst all the chaos that’s going on around them. So yeah, we saw a complete doubling really, in in the amount of apps being downloaded and installations. And also our sort of user sessions went through the roof as well. There’s a lot more a lot more artists are spending a lot more time capturing their song ideas and multitrack in one tracks and it was just, I guess, the other thing, I guess, comes to mind is that, you know, not everybody has expensive home setups for recording you know, not everyone has DAW’s and and the ways in which they can, they can sort of demo things up quickly and make same things and professional so I guess what’s really nice about having an app like Trackd on your phone is that they can just fire it up and very simply get down ideas and play around with ideas. And like, and I guess that’s probably another reason why, you know, it was kind of like a go to thing for a lot of a lot of songwriters and artists. Yeah, and I guess as well, I people switching from, you know, artists switching their modes, if not on tour and, you know, go into the studio, that kind of thing because they’ve had to social distance etc. You know, a lot of that a lot of their thinking goes through Okay, what can I do with this time and I think songwriting has become, you know, is a is an activity that they knew that, that people can just do during this, you know, during this sort of enforced period of downtime.
Yeah. Are there, have you guys had, and not necessarily came from this moment in time, but have you had any cause for celebration over things that have happened, be it, you know, a surge in numbers by misfortune of what’s going on or just some other things that you’ve seen? What are and I guess the question really is, is what what have you guys been able to celebrate over the course of launching?
Grant Tilbury 20:55
So as long as in the app or during this, [yeah] Sorry. [Yeah]
No since launching. Since launching,
Grant Tilbury 21:05
Okay, yeah, we’ve, I mean, it’s we’ve we’ve had some really interesting stories. And we’ve had some great milestones. You know, we’re, we’re over 250,000 artists using the app now, which is which has been brilliant. We’ve had you know, we we’ve done some really fun things that music festivals around the world and we have the South by Southwest stage. And we had our own medium stage in France as well, which was which has been great. Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics has come on board and has been a real ambassador for for us and our artists. And during lockdown, he’s run a competition, which was absolutely amazing. So having you know, having someone like that who sold 100 million albums and with multiple Grammys, you know, kind of coming on board and being really hands on with our artists has been absolutely amazing. So just to give you an overview, he ran around a lockdown competition where he put like, like seven tracks down on Trackd, and then invited people to kind of come in and and create this, finish off the song with him, to which he then kind of went through all all of the entries. And chose a few… chose a winner who had a cash prize and then carried on this songwriting process and he kind of got it mixed and mastered and all that sort of stuff. And now, now he’s putting out on his record label, which is a new label called Bay Street Records. And not just that, though, he took the winner and sort of got on with got on with him so well. Our winner was an artist called Otto, a young artist who’s based here in the UK actually. And you know, he was writing music out of a post office, an old converted post office that he lived in. And he kind of struck up a great conversation with with this year after all of this, and then Dave’s gone and offered him a record contract now. So he’s doing two EP’s and an album which is a absolutely amazing story to celebrate. And so that’s that’s been that’s been fantastic. Looking forward to hearing that. Some of the runners up in that competition. There was a saxophonist from Easton, who, in a sort of a candy alpha style thing obviously Dave Stewart was involved with, with with her previously but that was quite interesting. There was a there was another artist in Sweden as well. We did more of a hip hop type entry. And she was and you know, that was that was great. So it was quite interesting to kind of see how that all came together. And we’ve managed to celebrate some of those kind of great stories. You know that that was sparked interact, interact.
And that’s a real win-win too, I’m sure something that the industry would love to see more of. So very good. Glad I asked that one. And I believe I read maybe in the Abbey Road article that Dave Stewart was involved in some way with Tract and you kind of refresh my memory there. So, thanks.
Grant Tilbury 24:33
Yeah, it’s good. I mean, this is quite a few. I mean, there’s another artist that what I’ve, what I found was, I like hearing the stories of, you know, artists working out there in the real world using Trackd to capture their ideas. And there’s a there’s another songwriter who’s I think he’s based in Oregon. His name is Derrick Nelson… He was selected as a US ambassador, and he went to like Moldova and Albania and he was on Instagram and like, that’s how I found out about it. He tagged us. So you know, I’ve just used this app to record my ideas, while I’m in the hotel room over here teaching. You know I think he was teaching songwriting to schools over there. And I just thought that’s, that’s brilliant to… So in, I guess they’re the real kind of things that we like to celebrate, you know, it’s like, okay, we’re actually actually providing a tool for people who are using it, you know, to, you know, to create art and music, which is, which is always a good thing.
Yeah, that’s that’s a nice story. Nice story. Is there, knowing what you know about my you know, why we’re speaking today and, and that I’m doing this article and some podcast episodes around this. Is there anything that you’re… that I might be able to uncover in my research that you’d be interested to know about? Any questions you’ve kind of had you guys have had sitting in your heads?
Grant Tilbury 26:00
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I, I’ve been reading a lot of your articles in this past. Yes, past few weeks. I really liked your article about writing and recording music, again, I thought that was really interesting. [Thank you.] Five Points to understand us to say those. I guess he kind of covered your approach to it. And I think we’re interested. We’re super keen to learn what artists want. No, I guess. I mean, I was listening to your podcast with Dave Cool from Bandzoogle and I think that like bandzoogle we are, you know, we are it’s for musicians, by musicians kind of ethos, you know, so, we like to ask a lot of questions when people already use the app. I guess what we want to know is like, what, what do you know? How do you how do we best provide tools that, you know, are going to actually make a difference for you know actual working songwriters, session players, musicians, bands, artists across the board. And one of the one of the big things that we’ve been discussing a lot amongst the team here is like, well, how can we, how can we make, How can we provide a tool, a tool kit, where artists can, you know, make money in revenues from what their craft and what they’re doing? And what what do artists think is fair as well, you know, we’re trying to build a platform and tools that have fit for purpose. So I guess I guess that’s the kind of thing that we I’d love to learn from some of the work that you’re doing with your research for your articles. I think that’s I think, that’s always got to be at the forefront of our minds and what we’re making is it working and And what how artists in in some shape or form?
You know, just off the top of my head, asking my community is one thing, you know, I could certainly do. What would be the most expedient way for them to communicate with you. If they want to let you know the answers to some of these questions or thoughts they have about the app.
Grant Tilbury 28:22
We’ve got a mechanism within Trackd anyway, there’s a there’s a button, you can go and go into the settings page and fire us an email straightaway. I’m happy though as well to know I answer every every email that comes through my email address, simply grant at tract music.com. So that’s another way of kind of sharing thoughts and and ideas. What we try and do then is we kind of look at it as a team. And if we it’s a case then I guess, of either developing something within the app toward being built, even when it’s working in a different way, or we put it into our kind of development plan, you know, and, you know, so little bit further down the line, it’s something that you know, want to you want to bring in. We try and kind of as well we try and prioritize if you’re getting lots of people asking for the same thing. I mean, I’ll give you an example. One of the features we’ve got within Trackd is it… is a tool where you can make a virtual vinyl so you basically makes a little spinning vinyl disc that sits in your photos app on your iPhone. And then people share that on Instagram, etc. It’s a square, nice, but it fits well with a lot of artists like Well, hopefully, you know, a lot of people just love it. I wish I could change the color of the vinyl or I wish I could put my own label my main sticking in the middle. So it’s quite interesting. It’s quite interesting what people ask fo. Then a lot of people ask for very, very practical things. And one of the things that sort of came up I can share with your guest this week was I want, you know, I want to be able to put a cue marker on the on the timeline of the track. So I know when certain things start, or I just want to be able to label each track by multitrack. Things like that work that went on version two, you might get like, a whole bunch of our artists can agree. Yeah, this is great. But I just, it’s really difficult to find that. So if that’s the sort of thing that we’re facilitating the moment, but there’s other ideas out there that people might come up with, you know, ways in which they can, you know, that can really help the community and other artists, you know, a, get their ideas and some ideas down and recorded to how they can actually benefit and earn some revenues from what they’re doing as well.
Yeah, cool. And final question is there is there anything thing that you would like me to try to create awareness about to the extent that I can with regards to the app or the just the whole ecosystem at large?
Grant Tilbury 31:13
There’s a lot of things that we’re really conscious off by creating where and so we’ve just partnered with a great charity here in the UK, which is simply called the songwriting charity. And they, their work is revolve revolves around anti bullying, Alzheimer’s awareness, and music education at large. So they all go into schools, and they will, you know, have classes on songwriting for all sorts of reasons, therapeutic reasons through to, you know, helping helping children and adults alike, you know, to kind of get them started on the songwriting journey. So it’s that I think we’re trying to kind of create awareness for them, I think they’re doing some fantastic work there. And then I guess the other the other thing that we we totally subscribe to is the the broken record campaign, which the musicians union here in the UK and the Ibis Academy started, which is all about, you know, addressing, streaming, you know, and fair streaming royalty rates for artists, you know, because in this in this current climate with COVID-19 taking hold and stopping artists from being able to create a living life, you know, where they’re going to turn to next. You know, I think that for too long, it’s kind of been streaming is kind of in a straight shot window, and then when an artist will make their revenue from live music and performance, and obviously that’s never been taken away. So it did there does need to be a conversation around around that in order to oo make it fair for for music creators to, you know, to be able to, earn better royalty better money from from what they’re doing than what they’d have been at this moment in time. So, I guess yeah, that would be the kind of thing that we definitely subscribe to something we are trying to tackle as a, as a business ourselves. We’re a tiny startup. So, you know, but I guess it takes it takes us all to kind of a real deep thing about how that works.
Are you guys all based in around London or are you all over the place and how big’s the team?
Grant Tilbury 33:38
The team? We’re a small team of seven. We’ve got some fantastic advisors who are dotted all over the place. So we’ve got a we’re mainly in the UK. So I mean, I was I was in Wales for years, but now I’ve located that’s London. We’ve got, We’ve got a, we’ve got a colleague of mine in Nashville who manages bands and he also kind of helps on the artist side of things, my colleague Richard Day. We’ve got Russell and Justin here in London as well. We’ve got Rebecca up in northern England. So yes, it it kind of is mainly UK based, but we do have some some great people in other parts of the world. So we’re Yeah, we’re kind of building this thing and hopefully we can we can do we can we can provide our, you know, our studio app to as many people as possible. Quite interesting though, 70% of our audience is in the United States.
That is interesting.
Grant Tilbury 34:46
Which is, which is, which is… I kind of put that down so I also feel like Americans in general a little bit quicker to adopt and try something new. No, my countrymen here in the UK, I guess. can be a little bit more conservative and we need to warm them up a little bit more. Which is, which is interesting. But yeah, a lot of our users are in the United States
Yeah, it’s a good a good insight though. Well, I wish you guys all the success in the world and I will have to try the app myself. I’m definitely going to tell my friends and the community about it. Hmm. So, again, yeah, for sure, man. I appreciate your time today. It was a great conversation.
Grant Tilbury 35:27
Yeah, well, I appreciate you, you asking us on and yeah, I look forward to reading your articles. And if there’s anything we can do for you just let us know.
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