We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Matt Alcobia. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Matt below.
Matt, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I came up with the idea for Noize Cartel Records after spending a lot of time in the live music scene as a performing artist. I was really over playing the same music for such a long time and decided to start producing my own. So I built a super basic studio in a spare room in my house, and started recording. I made some remixes of the songs that I played already, as well as some original songs, and when I played them at shows I got a really good reaction from people, and discovered how much of an impact that has on you as an artist, to see something you came up with making people move and have fun. The feeling you get from that is better than any drug; music is such a powerful thing that does so much for people. I really wanted to get my music out there into the market so I contacted everyone I knew, and everyone I met from that point on, including artists I performed with. I spoke with big record labels and submitted music trying to get signed. Majority of them I never heard back from, and the Labels that were interested wanted me to sign these contracts that were totally unfair, wanting full control of my music and wanted the majority share of revenue, nothing really made much sense. I got onto a couple booking agents rosters, and between them I was doing 3 or 4 shows per week and started headlining events, traveling overseas to perform, and opening for some of the top artists in Australia. I always had CDs with me with my demos on, and would give them out to some of these notable artists and people I met backstage, who were all about my music, and said they would help me or give my CD to their manager, but they never actually did. What really lit the fire that initiated the idea for this business was a night my good friend Dan Dan and I closed out a show following a headliner that was one of the top artists in Australia, who we’ve performed with previously, and before the show we were partying with them and they asked if we had anything they could give to their manager, so I gave them my demo. Anyways we played this show that was tons of fun, and after we finished our set, Dan Dan and I walked back into the green room and we opened the door to an empty room, the artist had left the venue and everything had been cleaned out except for one thing, the demo sitting on the couch! Such a buzz kill after a hype performance… It was obvious no one was actually going to help and I became determined to do it all myself. It was not long after that I was explaining this story to a good friend of mine who was already a successful artist, and he took me over to his friend’s house who was an ARIA Award winning producer. We were hanging out partying in this guy’s studio and he gave me some insight into what the process was to get my music distributed independently. After that everything made sense to me and everything I needed just started falling into place. Because this artist was generous enough to help me with the information I needed to release my music, I vowed to always share my knowledge and help other artists. It was at that point I envisioned my overall objective for this label, which was to provide a fair platform that was artist focused, and designed to help independent artists with the resources they needed to be successful and follow their passion. I ended up joining the Australian Independent Record Label Association and told them what I was doing. They knew just the person I needed to speak to and referred me to Ash Gay from Xelon Entertainment, who became a good friend and integral part of my business. We launched Noize Cartel Records start of January 2014 with I think 5 artists, who became the core of this label and helped to grow it to what it is today, which happened organically.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I was born in San Diego California into a family of musicians. My dad was a professional jazz musician and bandleader in San Diego. He would take me to his gigs, and ran his business out of his home office, so I was constantly exposed to the music business for as long as I can remember. When I was 16 years old and obtained my driver’s license, I put together my own DJ set up using old equipment my dad wasn’t using, which ended up being a mixer, dual tape deck, one CD player, and 2 turntables. I went and equipped myself with some vinyl and asked my dad if I could do some gigs. So I worked for him as a DJ along with his other DJ by the name of DJ Adam, who later became better known as DJ AM. I have also been playing music since I was 5 years old and I would get lessons from the musicians in his band who were some of the top musicians in San Diego. I learned how to play piano, drums, guitar, and played trumpet in the school band from fourth grade onward. I preferred writing songs and recording them on a four track tape recorder, which I actually still have! My dad had a music room that always had instruments set up that I would practice. My grandpa was also a musician who had this cool organ that I used to like to play every time I went to visit. He encouraged my enjoyment of playing on that thing and always inspired me with his playing of various instruments he had. My Uncle is a professional musician and has played in many bands in San Diego. He and my Aunt have their own band called Bad For Good which paved the way for us creating a branch of the label called Noize Cartel Records Music Publishing, which is dedicated to live bands and music licensing. My Uncle is my business partner for this branch of the label and is an integral part of this business. Just this year we launched Noize Cartel Records Portugal, as my grandparents are from Portugal, I have family there, and am fortunate to have my cousin, known as John Dazze, in Portugal who also has a passion for music. He recently finished school to become a fully qualified performer, and sound and lighting tech. John runs operations in Portugal for the label and has established a fully equipped studio where he works from. So as you can see this is a family operated independent label, with studios in Australia, America, and Portugal which gives our artists the ability to be international touring acts and helps us maximize their exposure to new markets so they can grow fans in those areas. Having resources in each of those areas helps us to make touring internationally more affordable for independent artists. This label is not your every day record label; our structure is quite different to any other label out there. I am in this business to genuinely help people and I do what it takes to ensure our artists aren’t held back due to things like finances or equipment. Many talented independent artists don’t have the money to dedicate to their music career, many don’t have the support or encouragement from family members to be comfortable spending money on getting anywhere with their music. I totally understand what that’s like, and who can blame them, with music streaming platforms becoming the main source of music consumption around the world, its had a huge impact on an artist’s income. When new services and ways of selling things online become available, there are often no laws governing what those companies can do, so it takes years of discovering problems and finding solutions to ensure artists music is being used fairly, and they are being compensated by a company who uses their music as a way to make the company money. The music industry is working very hard to help artists get their income back up, but at the end of the day the music industry can only do so much, and one thing I can’t stress enough is that we could use as much help from music consumers and fans who care about the future of this industry, by supporting artists directly and using the music platforms that are actually trying to help artists by increasing their royalty payouts. For the end user, it doesn’t affect what you’re paying currently; all these platforms have very similar price structures. The difference comes in the backend and how much of that money you’re paying for music actually goes to artists. The bigger picture looks something like this: Directly supporting an artist is the best thing you can do especially paying to digitally download their music. It’s pretty standard to pay $1 per song download. If you buy 1 song you just provided $1 of income for that artist. That song is yours to listen to anytime you want forever! However, if you stream that song on a music streaming platform that doesn’t pay much to artists, for you to make that artist that $1 you would need to listen to that song around 400 times. That’s every day for over a year! Maybe over time it could happen, but it’s really not doing much for the artists. Top that with the fact they are providing this music at very low quality makes it that much worse for artists who are out here trying to give you gold, but having it reduced to something less than any professional studio would even work with….Not something most people even think about, but at the end of the day, a good song should evoke emotion for the listener, getting the full experience from the sounds and production quality is part of what causes that response in people, but take that away and you’re really taking the heart out of the music, and the only response it will evoke is hitting the skip button. Music consumers don’t really know what it’s like on this end of it all, and they are the ones with the ability to really make a difference. When wondering what music platform to use, and faced with a choice between companies that offer on demand streaming with a catalog of over 90 million songs for $9.99 a month, people will generally go with the most popular one, or the one that’s most compatible with their device, but would you choose differently if they had to include the amount they pay to artists alongside that as well? When faced to select a music streaming service to sign up for that all cost $9.99 a month one pays artists $0.01 (one cent) per stream, another pays artists $0.005 (half of a cent) per stream, and another pays artists $0.0025 (one quarter of a cent), would that information have an effect on what platform you sign up with? Reality of the situation is half a cent or whatever isn’t even a thing, no one can actually deposit anything less than $0.01 into their bank account so I don’t know how so many music streaming platforms are able to do that. Does that mean we can submit and collect fractions of a cent from the government on our tax returns? If you stream music and you enjoy listening to music, use the platforms that pay artists at least $0.01 (one cent) per stream, at least they can actually get paid!
As a label that helps artists, I can say there is no one size fits all solution to make an artist successful in their career. In a time where artists don’t need a label and can be independent, it’s important to understand the needs of artists and the areas they actually need help in. Being an independent artist means being an independent business. Not all amazing artists are amazing business people. It doesn’t matter either way in terms of being able to help them as a label. If there is an area where they need help then I will explain how I can help them. Take streaming and social media for example, the most common thing I see is artists focused on getting more monthly listeners on Spotify, or more likes on their Facebook page, but they have nobody signed up on their fan-list on their website! An artist may have 10,000 social media followers who all buy their new album and they think they made it as a successful independent artist… until their Facebook account gets hacked and they lose access to their page and they have no way of ever contacting those people again to notify them about their next album. Or they forget to pay their monthly fee they get charged from their DIY distribution company and their music gets pulled down and all their Spotify followers don’t ever know about the artists next release and the artist has to start from scratch to build it all back up again…It happens! Not something artists think about all the time, it’s those bits of knowledge that determine how long an artist’s career can last. I encourage artists to be completely independent, and my business is structured to get them to the point they can be. We have had artists work with us, learn what they needed to learn, and then do it all themselves. To me, I love that, that’s my personal goal, I know how much work that artist has done, and continues to do in order to run their own successful independent music business. Most artists don’t know what being an independent artist actually requires them to do. I see talented artists quit the industry on a regular basis because it’s not easy. So how we help them as a label is offer the support they need in areas they really don’t want to do. Most musicians love making music because it’s fun! This is a fun industry to work in and that’s the part they want to do, and that’s the part they are good at. They might not want to do the royalty accounting and dealing with platforms when distributing their music, so we can do that for them so they can focus on what they do best. For artists that don’t want to be on a label, but still need help with something, I am always happy to answer questions or share knowledge with anyone interested enough to ask, and we have many of our services available online through our website noizecartelrecords.com where artists can get professional studio services, work with our professional musicians, get tailored marketing help that is actually affordable on an artist’s budget.
As you can probably tell I can talk about this stuff forever, I am very passionate about what I do, and very grateful to be able to help artists and provide people fun entertainment. Support Independent Music!
Can you tell us about what’s worked well for you in terms of growing your clientele?
The most effective strategy for growing our clientele is definitely being actively working out in the scene, letting our work speak for itself. Alongside that Connecting with people and building lasting relationships. You really need to stand out from everyone else doing the same thing in your industry in order to have an impact on new people you meet, who could be potential clients. Having a point of difference really helps them to remember you. Such as for me, I’m big on quality, so I have really high standards and I aim to exceed people’s expectations. I genuinely care, so I take the time to relate with people and learn more about them. The more we learn about one another naturally uncovers opportunities to work together, while at the same time building friendships. The objective of my strategy is to build lifelong clients who use us as their go-to service provider anytime they need something that we offer a solution for. This process takes some time; it’s not something that typically happens on the spot, which is why I first mentioned having a point of difference to help people remember you by. Now every sales trainer and business mentor that I’ve ever had is not going to like what I’m about to say, but I don’t ask for anything when I first meet someone. Anyone in sales would have heard someone tell them to always ask for the business and don’t leave without asking for the sale. Just think about the reality of that, you don’t just walk into a party and go up to a table of people that you’ve never met before and introduce yourself then try to sell them something. It’s just not going to be very effective, and its not going to get you the best reputation. Making a good first impression and getting to know someone naturally leads to exchanging phone numbers and obtaining permission to contact them again. To do this on a larger scale we have to get a bit more creative, however, in saying that it’s never been easier to find new clientele online. We service the music market worldwide, and offer our services online through our web site. Even though it’s online, and not as personal, I still structure our marketing and communication with people in the same way. Out of everything we do to grow our clientele this is by far the most effective strategy!
We’d love to hear about how you keep in touch with clients.
This is the perfect follow-up question to what we’re just talking about with growing clientele effectively! This is such an important thing, and so many artists in the music businesses just totally fail at it. If you’ve ever thought about why an artist was a ‘One Hit Wonder’ this very thing has a lot to do with it. Not only has technology made it easier than ever before to grow clientele, but it’s also never been easier to keep them as long-term customers who buy from you more than one time. This is one area where we use social media a lot. Really putting the effort into getting engagement on your socials by posting content regularly, Responding to all comments, showing appreciation for shares, and even doing the same in return for people who took those actions is a great way to ensure people are actually seeing your content. Social media platforms such as Facebook have algorithms designed to give people the best user experience, so if people aren’t taking actions on your posts, Even if they like your content, because there’s no engagement for a period of time, the algorithm will think they don’t really like your content and they will see less of the stuff they aren’t taking actions on, and more of the stuff they are. When an artist has been quiet on social media for some time and they have an announcement to make, such as a new release coming out, I always suggest boosting a post to their page followers, friends and their friends just to get the artists content back in front of them and getting engagement so the algorithm begins delivering your content to them again. Alongside this we use an automated messenger Marketing System such as Many Chat which lets us contact clients and fans by messenger, which gets substantially higher open rates than traditional e-mail notifications, And we take the time to craft a well thought out chat bot that facilitates conversations and sales for you automatically. This is part of our CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, along with what we use in our website to send out emails. Our system tracks data, and we analyze the data and use the information to really organize our database, by tagging people and sorting them into categories. For instance if we send out a presale offer for a new album that we have coming out, then anyone who buys that album through this offer will get tagged as ‘already purchased’ so future marketing for this album doesn’t get sent out to anyone who’s already purchased and makes us look like we are pushing the same product on them they already bought, when we could instead set up a follow up email to everyone tagged with ‘already purchased’ thanking them for their support and including something free they didn’t expect to get such as unreleased content, or maybe a discount on another album they haven’t bought yet. Being really organized with our database system allows us to get the most out of it when using automation. We also use these tools with our rewards program, where people who purchase something receive points that they can then accumulate and then redeem for discounts or free products and services. We can also allocate points manually fort taking certain actions, or on special occasions such as Birthdays. A points system is a good way to keep people coming back and gives them a reason to make further purchases. I don’t want to get too caught up in sales, although that’s part of what I need to impose into an artist’s marketing system to help them generate revenue, it’s important to note that we’re not just blasting people with sales emails and messages constantly. In fact we only do this when necessary, such as when an artist has new merch or a new release to promote. We don’t want to have the impression that we only contact people when we’re trying to sell them something, eventually they just won’t open anything from us if we do that. We want to deepen our relationships with our clients and have deeper connections with artists and their fans. So we take the opportunity to talk to them, learn more about them, and share insight into our personal lives and what we are all about, much like we are doing here. There’s a lot to say for developing a good database of loyal clients. A lot of artists find this overwhelming and just don’t do it, but don’t let it be like that, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or stressful. The current world that we live in is already overwhelming, people are already stressed, and in times like this the best thing you can do is simply let people know you’re there, and that your contacting them just to let them know you’re thinking about them, and tell them everything is going to be alright.
It’s easy to get caught up in business and carried away with everything happening around us, but it doesn’t always need to be that complicated, sometimes the most effective thing you can do is keep it simple and level with people because at the end of the day we are all here together for a limited amount of time, and we don’t know when that time is going to end, we are in it together, we experience many of the same ups and downs together, we can relate with each other in life, it’s how we are designed, we all have a heart, we all have feelings, let your clients know that your there for them, go out of your way to show them you appreciate them, your clients are the ones funding your lifestyle and your ability to provide for your family, show your clients you love them and remind them whenever you see an opportunity.