Founder Stories: Matt Benn On Building Soundplate
In today’s Founder Story, we feature Matt Benn, Founder of Soundplate!
Read on for lessons he has learned from launching and marketing his music tech company.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
Soundplate is a record label and music technology company. We build tools and resources that help independent artists promote their music online. Our tools include a platform for artists to create landing pages for their music and a system for submitting music to playlists. Thousands of artists from all over the world use these tools every day. Ultimately our mission is to help independent musicians succeed.
2. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
Soundplate started out as a music blog, this led to us launching the record label. Everything else has happened organically from there. Running a record label on a small budget without any external funding presents many problems and challenges. We started building the tech to solve some of these problems and gradually started to share the solutions we created with other labels and artists.
Now some of this tech has been spun out into fully functioning products used by thousands of artists. For the original label launch, we threw a big event in a London nightclub but since then, most of our launches have been fairly small-scale. We like to test our products on our own audience before we start any external advertising or marketing.
Typically we will add some links to a new product or feature on our website or send an email newsletter out to a section of our audience. Once we have real users and feedback we can iterate and start to think more about the marketing.
3. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?
We worked with some great designers in the early days of Soundplate to create some templates and brand guidelines. Having these guidelines and templates has made our design process very easy, I strongly recommend spending time on this in the early days as it makes making design decisions much easier moving forward.
We’ve tried all kinds of marketing over the years but our most effective channel has been to build and share online tools for our community. The free tools are organically shared amongst artists and labels and lead people into our ‘ecosystem’ of products.
4. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?
As a huge music fan, a lot of my design and marketing inspiration comes from record labels, artists, and album artwork that I admire. Business-wise I’ve always been inspired by people that have built great remote companies without raising huge investment rounds.
5. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
For advertising, we use the Meta Ads Studio and Google Ads. For collaboration and planning, we use Trello & Google Workspace products. When marketing music on our label we use our own tools. Soundplate Clicks for landing pages and our website for playlist submissions, we also use some industry-specific platforms for reaching out to influencers, etc. I don’t think we are currently using anything unusual, the creative work is more important than the platforms and tools.
6. Looking ahead, what are you most excited about?
We have another marketing tool for artists launching in the next few weeks. I can’t say too much for now but it is going to help artists make some great content for their social media! We are also working with some really great artists on the label and releasing new music almost every week at the moment! You can check out our recent releases, here.
7. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Twitter/X posts from the indie-maker community. It’s great to see how bootstrapped founders are building and thinking about their products.
I really admire the transparency and insights being shared on the platform at the moment by people like Pieter Levels. We are a remote company and I travel often so I like to read articles and tweets by digital nomads who travel while they work.
8. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
I think the biggest lesson is just to make decisions quickly! Sometimes acting fast is more important than getting everything 100% right. In the early days, it’s easy to overthink every little thing and end up feeling stuck.
As long as the decision isn’t irreversible or the downside of making the wrong call isn’t going to cause serious harm to the company, making a fast decision is almost always the right thing to do. A lot of the time, you just have to get out of your own way and take action.
9. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
The number one quality I think entrepreneurs need is patience! Success almost always takes longer than you think it will. I’ve been running Soundplate in one way or another for about 10 years now and we are still just getting started.
I think there are lots of different ways to be successful as an entrepreneur and as a team. Deciding what success looks like to you is the first step. If the team all have a common mission and goal it makes life much easier.
10. Let us know where we can go to learn more!
Our platform for artists to create landing pages is Soundplate Clicks.
You can listen to the latest releases on our record label here: Soundplate Records