Identifying Independent Musicians in a Noisy World

By Sean Del Galdo and Thomas Morford

As hard as it is to believe, the band Fall Out Boy was once unknown. They were signed to a label named Fueled by Ramen, which, as it sounds, was run out of a dorm room.

Roy LaManna, a music entrepreneur who specializes in music video technology, began his career making videos for the then unknown band. Although Roy went to great lengths to create the music videos, he realized they weren’t promoted well. So Roy promoted them.

There were very few ways to promote music videos, the biggest being MTV. So did Roy succeed and did Fall Out Boy become internationally known?

Most people know the answer to the latter question, but not many know the story of Roy and his successful business.

After Roy had success with Fall Out Boy, he began working with other well-known artists such as Panic at the Disco and Gym Class Heroes. Through these experiences, Roy started Vydia, a video distribution and monetization startup in New Jersey.

While there are many companies that deliver the same services as Vydia, Roy wanted to make his creation stand out, and he did just that. Roy takes pride in being one step ahead of the competition and credits that as one of the reasons Vydia has been having so much success.

“I think that’s what makes us unique,” Roy said, “I think most startups try and solve problems that exist now and not try and think of things that will be issues in the next couple of years.”

Vydia helps companies create clean meta and manage their intellectual property rights across multiple social platforms. Roy makes his clients happy with the work he and his team put in to provide reliable service.

“I think that’s been a huge part of our success. We really don’t advertise that much. We really just provide a good service, and when people receive a good service, they tend to tell their friends about it,” Roy said.

It’s safe to say that Vydia is Roy’s baby, and New Jersey is undeniably his home. Roy grew up in Middletown and wanted to create a great company in his own backyard. Although New Jersey has been great to Roy his entire life, there were challenges when he decided to create a startup here.

“It was difficult finding the tech talent we needed, but when we revised our strategy, we stopped looking for the guy that just graduated last week and started honing in on a very specific type of developer that was interested in staying in New Jersey,” Roy said.

In changing their strategy, Roy and his Vydia team turned New Jersey into a secret weapon.

“We could get a lot of things cheaper that we wouldn’t be getting in New York,” Roy said. “For instance, our rent is a fraction of what it would be if we were in a major city.” This gave them the opportunity to perfect the user experience on their platform and focus more on the customer.

“They really don’t care where we’re located – if we’re in New Jersey or Palo Alto, they just want the service,” Roy added.

What’s Vydia all about?

It’s about helping artists.

“To be honest, a lot of music managers don’t really understand how copyright and intellectual property rights work when it comes to music,” Roy said. That’s where Vydia comes in. Vydia helps artists manage their intellectual property and make it most profitable.

Before Vydia, musicians didn’t have an option: deal with the big name record labels or don’t survive. Vydia is mixing up the market and addressing many pressing issues that other companies ignore.

“One of the things we are concentrating on cracking with publishers is how they source content,” Roy said. “Right now there’s a great deal of data that we collect on our site, and we think that data will help publishers make more informed decisions on who they support. It’s a little too early to get into too much detail, but we have a way to fix their problem.”

Vydia also has a partnership with VEVO, which originally wasn’t open to independent artists. Now, a majority of independent artists on VEVO are there because of Vydia.

Vydia did a deal as an aggregator of content and made the platform accessible to everyone.

“In the process, we’ve been able to show VEVO the benefits of early access and essentially be on the ground floor with artists who have yet to sign to major deals,” Roy said.

The Big Question

The elephant in the room for many independent artists is how can they make money in music streaming? The concept is so daunting that many simply dismiss it, but that elephant doesn’t have to fill up the room anymore. It’s not that ominous of a topic when you know what Roy knows.

“We’re really encouraging the idea that the internet levels all playing fields and that artists can make significant amounts of money without the infrastructure of an enormous label,” Roy said. “Paying a major record label to monetize your content on streaming sites probably doesn’t make much sense for a lot of artists.”

The reality of the situation Roy describes is that a majority of an artist’s revenue is going towards paying their enormous overhead. Roy proposes that as the technology grows, artists will be going more and more direct to consumer.

Vydia is changing the game and allowing independent artists to find their personal identity in a noisy world. Next Spring, TEDxIdentity will focus on stories that unleash true identity and strive to unveil misconceptions surrounding New Jersey.