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Fandalism – THE new socialnetwork for music? – Philip Kaplan Interview

philip kaplanIn our music entrepreneur interview series today: Philip Kaplan from Fandalism, a social network just for musicians that opened its gate in January 2012 and has grown rapidly since. Philip Kaplan is a serial entrepreneur and investor from San Francisco who was responsible for over 10 companies before Fandalism, one of them the famous Fucked Company blog, a mix of a dead pool and parody site on the “new economy” of the millennium. What is remarkable about Fandalism is that it offers a DISTRIBUTION service that is extremely cheap compared to others. At 19.99$ per year with no commission on sales one has to wonder if there are any downsides to it. – Find out more in our interview with Philip:  [divider top=”0″]
Q: Hello Philip, please tell us about your person and your company.
I’m a heavy metal drummer in San Francisco, CA. I’m also a website developer and the founder of Fandalism.

Q: You offer two services. One is a social network for musicians and one a distribution service. Please tell our readers how  it came to this. Which came first, what´s the idea behind each concept?

The Fandalism social network was first. I added the distribution service later because I think existing distribution services are too complicated and expensive.

Q:How long is fandalism in existence, how fast are you growing? How many users are on the fandalism social network right now?

I launched Fandalism in January, 2011. There are currently about 550,000 members.

Q:How did you grow the service to this scale? Any growth hacking tips for the music entrepreneurs in the audience? Is it all “organic” or was there paid customer acquisition  involved?

Musicians want other people to see them play. So a site that allows musicians show off is somewhat predisposed to grow. My biggest tip for other entrepreneurs is to keep it simple. There are a lot of features that I think would be cool, but that I’ve intentionally not built — or built and removed. I see a lot of other sites for musicians, and they’re so freaking complicated.

fandalismQ:Why is your distribution service so much cheaper than others, are there any trade offs compared to the other services?

One reason other distribution services are expensive is because there aren’t many of them — so they can artificially keep prices high. Another reason they’re expensive, is because they don’t run as efficiently as they could, technologically. Fandalism’s service is completely automated and your music will be submitted to stores literally minutes after you upload it. Some distributors try to differentiate themselves by saying that they distribute to more stores, and list 100 tiny stores you’ve never heard of that nobody uses. Fandalism focuses on only the biggest stores: iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and a few more coming soon that I can’t talk about yet.

The price is $19.99 per year for unlimited uploads. That price feels right to me. There’s not really a lot of science or motives behind the price. But the price is a lot cheaper than any other distribution companies that I know of. Also, I think Fandalism’s user interface is a lot easier to use than anyone else’s.

Q:How do you plan to make money as a company? In a techcrunch article about fandalism you say that the distribution model is thought to attract more people to the social network. Is there a fee for using premium social network functions or what are long term plans for monetization?

I’m most concerned with growing the social network and making it more useful for musicians. Money isn’t a focus. The social network is free. The distribution service costs $19.99 but I don’t really market it. It’s actually hard to find any links to the distribution service on Fandalism. I’m not very aggressive with asking members for money. That’s not what Fandalism is about.

Q:How is fandalism as a social network different to other music based social networks like reverbnation or sound services like soundcloud?

Other musician sites are more about promoting bands and acts. Fandalism is for individual musicians. Like the kid in high school who sits on his bed and runs through guitar scales. He may or may not be in a band, and have profiles on those other sites — but I want him to be part of the Fandalism community. 

hqdefaultQ: Philip, you´re also the founder of Adbrite, the Fucked Company Blog (!), Blippy and a couple of other companies. How come you´re now running a music startup?

I’ve been a drummer since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted there to be a big directory of musicians where I could find people to jam with. One day after frustratingly browsing musician classifieds on Craigslist again, I figured I’d just build it.

Q:What in your opinion is the future of digital music services?

I think distribution will keep getting cheaper and cheaper until it’s eventually free. It’s already free on YouTube, though that isn’t the optimal way to listen to music yet.

Q:What tips can you give the up and coming musicians? How should they promote themselves? Where/How can they realistically start making a living as a fulltime musician?

Learn how to program computers and start an internet company.  No but seriously, do that.

Q:What are your future plans as an entrepreneur? Will you stick with fandalism?

I am 100% committed to Fandalism. This is the most focused I’ve ever been in my career. 

Thank you for your time! 

Check out fandalism here->

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