Spotlight // Brandon Martinez
There are two types of music, according to Brandon Martinez, co-founder and CEO of INDMUSIC. There’s good music, and then everything else. INDMUSIC focuses on former, and works to help the artists and labels behind said good music get paid. Sounds like a win-win, right?
We recently got a hold of Martinez as he was zipping, or rather, sluggishly moving along in traffic, between meetings, panel appearances and events during a trip to Los Angeles.
For the novice YouTube user, explain what INDMUSIC does and why you think people should check it out?
We are what’s called a YouTube Multi-Channel Network, that’s the official title. We are the largest for unsigned and independent musicians. We work with about 250 bands, labels and other music content creators, and essentially we help them make money on their YouTube videos.
What inspired you to create INDMUSIC?
I was a talent agent and ran the digital division for Abrams Artist Agency here in LA, and then I also ran the New York digital division as well. And so I saw how things were changing during those early days on the web. However, I was always a music guy through and through. I wore a suit to work everyday, but my suit jacket was leather and I would ride my motorcycle home to Silver Lake where I would go to shows with my friends. I really wanted to bring my knowledge of the digital space to music.
Who would you consider your audience?
For us, it’s less about our channel per se, and more about the musicians and the other creative people we work with. Think of us like an indie label if you will, except our artists own all the content—they own the channel, and we’re helping them to get that out. It’s not just our channel, it’s the 250 channel partners that we work with, labels like Mad Decent, Stones Throw and people like that.
What would you say you love most about your job?
The fact that I get to listen to music all day. Talking to bands, talking to labels, creating value where there was none before—potentially found revenue for these labels. Diplo was quoted as saying earlier this year that without Harlem Shake they weren’t sure how they were going to keep the label afloat. So to be able to support artists and labels that I’m a fan of is pretty exciting for me.
Is there a particular INDMUSIC accomplishment you’re most proud of?
Obviously Harlem Shake. So far in 2013, it’s the most streamed song of the year. It was a viral phenomenon that honestly without us could not have happened. There was no major label affiliation whatsoever, and it was really us that provided the driving backbone to make revenue and to count all those views. I mean, we changed the way the Billboard Hot 100 Chart is calculated, which is a pretty amazing feat.
Is there a new music trend that you find particularly compelling?
Oh man. I’ve always been a big lover of hip hop. I love the—especially coming out of New York right now—sort of throw back to that early style of hip hop, very minimalist even, if you will, like Joey Badass and a bunch of other artists. I’m a big fan of that, but at the same time, I obviously like the stompy bands like Lumineers and Monsters of Folk and stuff like that are very popular.
You live in Brooklyn now, how do you like it?
Our office is in North Williamsburg right near McCarren Park and I live in West Brooklyn, in a new area called Columbia Street Waterfront, sort of right along the water. I wake up to a view of Lower Manhattan, Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Photographs by Carlos Quinteros Jr. Words by Barbara Sueko McGuire.