INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Haulix Founder Talks Industry Roots, Company Creation

Haulix logo Matt brown interview

Haulix is the type of service music industry professionals need. Providing exclusive streaming services from label to media, Haulix is doing what no other service in the industry has been able to do in the digital age — fight piracy. And Haulix is doing it with style. The sleek and user-friendly design makes it incredibly easy for outside parties to access streams and downloads of music months before release, all while being digitally watermarked to prevent leaks.

Formed in 2009, it helps both the artist and media control whose hands the music lands in before release — helping everyone involved. The company’s website says Haulix is “discovering new ways in which technology can help people who promote in the music industry.”

Under The Gun Review sat down with Haulix founder and CEO Matt Brown to discuss his start in the music industry, his company and his thoughts on some industry trends. Read the interview in full after the jump.

UTG: Hi, Matt. Let’s open up with how the idea of Haulix came about. How did it get started?

Matt Brown: I started a website back in 2001 called metalreview.com with a couple buddies I worked with. I was a computer science student so I was looking for something — a project to get my hands dirty with. We all liked metal music so it made sense. Just over time, I started to see my mailbox overflowing with promotional CDs and it got to the point where it was just hundreds coming in and my mailbox was overflowing. I saw how much publicists were paying for postage on these packages. It just seemed like such a flawed process so I got to thinking there could be a better solution using the web and software. So that’s where the initial idea came from.

What year did you officially launch?

Back in 2007, I was going to start. I bought the name leaksecure.com. I had a full-time job at that time and it just fizzled away. Fast forward to 2009, when the economy tanked, I lost my job as a software engineer, so I thought, “Well, now’s probably the best time to start a business.” It was early to mid 2009 that I started Haulix.

With Haulix, do you consider yourself more in the music industry or more in the tech industry? Which do you keep up with more?

I think it’s half and half. It’s 100 percent web-based and we’re constantly working with programming and adding new features and stuff — at the same time, with our blog, we’re heavily involved in the music industry. So I think it’s half and half.

So you do have a background in the music industry, as you said. Why did you think you wanted to start a company that delivered this particular service?

I just think it’s because of my firsthand experience; being on the side of receiving promotional CDs. I saw a need for some type of a solution that was more efficient for not only journalists, but the publicists. People on both sides. I played drums all my life and I’ve always been into music so it made sense. I just wanted to take my career to the next level and everything fell into place.

Well it’s a great service. Nothing out there compares. What do you think the importance is for artists, publicists, labels, etc. to protect the music and how important was it for you to offer the watermarked services you do?

I recently read that something like 25 percent of music sales nowadays are pre-orders and another 25 percent are in the first two weeks. That right there proves that before the music is released is a crucial time period. Labels want to create buzz about their albums but they don’t want it to leak so those first couple of weeks are crucial. It’s important that it doesn’t leak and if it does that we’re initializing takedowns to protect it. From the business side of things, I obviously wanted to do something to make a living with but at the same time it feels good to be doing something good for the industry — protecting music. A lot of publicists base their entire company around our software. That feels good to be able to do that and offer that and help people in the industry.

Haulix runs a great music industry blog. What made you want to expand into doing that?

In the beginning days, our blog was pretty much me and I’m not very good at that. It’s hard for me to find really interesting things to write about. So about a year and a half ago we really needed to beef up our social media presence and so we brought James [Shotwell] aboard and pretty much he’s taken charge of everything. He doesn’t need much supervision or anything. He’s just great. We went from having zero presence online to having James come and really blow things up. I think that goes along with helping the industry — with things like an advice column and a job board for people who want to get into the music industry. We want to stand for something and help people in the industry.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Happy customers. That’s a really easy answer. It never gets old to hear someone compliment how the software changed their experience or how they do work. Just to see albums being protected. That’s what gets me up in the morning — to know people get a good return off Haulix.

So why should people use your product?

A couple reasons. We purposely don’t add a ton of features to our software. We keep it lean and try to do a few things really well. I found that a lot of our customers are super tech savvy so they really need something that’s intuitive and can let them get their work done and it stays out of the way. A lot of the complicated watermarking stuff is all automatic. People really don’t have to think about it. It’s in the background and it works. The other thing is our customer service. We try to have really awesome customer service — like answering people within 10 minutes and really helping people. There’s shitty customer service everywhere still. When you answer people quickly and with a solution people are like, “Wow, thanks for the time.” They’re not used to getting customer service like that. So I think that’s a huge factor in this business.

Something I’ve always been interested in — where did the name come from?

I really enjoy the whole naming and branding process. I remember I was going to start this business and I went into some music forum and someone mentioned they had bought a bunch of new CDs and they said that was their new haul. So I that’s how I got the name “haul” in my head and I put the “ix” on it and all the domain names were available. Within like 30 minutes I bought the name and created the initial logo. It was a real, quick 30-minute thing.

What’s next for Haulix?

We’re starting to look at press releases. That’s another huge part of a publicist’s job and we’re noticing what they use for that. We’re looking at coming up with a solution for that. It’s in the initial stages but I’m really excited about that. I think I can come up with a really good tool and I think a lot of our customers would jump on it. That’s what I’m excited about right now. We’re still refining the software and making current features better. There’s always a lot of things going on and we want to continue to keep improving. If anybody who’s reading this wants to push music out to press, come try us out. The first month is free. You can do real promotions with watermarked music in that month. Most people who try it out end up staying. I welcome anybody who wants to give us a try.

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