Marc Brown is a Canadian and started working in the music business in the ’90s. He moved to London and has worked in the UK music industry for over 15 years.
Marc Brown is the founder of Byta – a platform for sending and receiving digital music. It’s a distributed company spread across several continents and provides a workhorse solution to a daily music industry need, built on
Marc’s deep music industry and radio promotion background. Marc is (or was, until recent global developments) a frequent speaker at music industry events worldwide on topics of artist empowerment, music industry education, and the digital landscape. More than what we listen to, he’s interested in How We Listen.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Marc says:
To be alive is motivation enough to keep going.
Music and visual art are what changed my life. Communicating ideas can come in many forms, and those are the most visceral for me. The music of Guided By Voices moves me as much as the day I first heard them, and the influence of the art world’s giants looms large for a reason.
The best advice I ever received was in the form of a question, “what would you prefer, a crisp $10 bill or a ripped $20 bill?”. My advice to anyone would be just to get started with something, anything. Then once you start, don’t give up.
Read on to know more about Marc Brown and his journey.
What motivated you to get started with your company?
Marc Brown: During the transition from CDs to digital music, I noticed how difficult it was for people throughout the music ecosystem to send and receive music digitally efficiently. So much time is wasted that less and less music is being listened to. If you can’t get your music heard by the people in the industry, you will never get the support and opportunities to succeed. It is foundational to the artist’s careers.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Marc Brown: Byta is the platform for sending and receiving digital audio in a clean, simple, and secure way. It was built for music. Byta is the exact product we set out to build.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Marc Brown: We recently raised CAD 1.9 million, exclusively announced in Techcrunch back in June. This seed round is our first funding and was led by the Canada Media Fund.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fund-raising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors, and which channels worked best for you?
Marc Brown: We believe in the lean startup methodology and the DIY approach to music. We approach our startup with the same advice we would give any artist. Do as much as you can yourself. You will know when it is time to look for external support. We had meetings with a few investors over the years though it never felt right. We built up our relationship with our lead investors, the Canada Media Fund, over 18 months. Our other investors are industry contacts and musicians we’ve known and worked with for over 20 years.
What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fund-raising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Marc Brown: I think knowing when to raise is the most challenging. I wonder if we should have raised earlier to develop our product faster. However, I am more than satisfied with the way things have turned out so far.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Marc Brown: We are well-capitalized in 2022. However, we’ve had so much inbound interest recently thinking about starting to raise another round right away.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Marc Brown: Byta’s goal is to provide artists and their teams with the tools and knowledge to move their careers forward. While everyone within the music ecosystem sends and receives digital audio files and streams, there are many different user profiles. The knowledge is provided through our recently announced not-for-profit #HowWeListen which is a great way to reach our target market. Of course, simultaneously, we are making a lot of direct sales for Byta via our industry contacts. This two-pronged method has served us well.
Which has been the best marketing software tool for the growth of your startup, and why?
Marc Brown: Google Docs. Getting ideas down “on paper” and then collaborating on refining them together as a team is a key to marketing, growth, you name it. Our best ideas came out of nowhere. We were just lucky enough to write them down before we forgot.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Marc Brown: Good question! I think the hard truth is that most startups think people automatically “care” about their startup. Artists and musicians are the same way, another parallel between music and tech. The key is to give people a reason to engage and build a context around what you are doing to help people understand why they should trust you with whatever it is they need to get done by using your product.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Marc Brown: Byta has been a distributed team from day one. We started in London but quickly spread out. We moved our operations to Calgary, Alberta, in 2017, where I grew up. We now have the most team members in Canada with others in the UK, Australia, and me here in Stockholm, Sweden.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Marc Brown: I would guess that people either think too much or too little about it. Too much and you spread yourself too thin across too many markets. Too little focus on expansion means you are not thinking big enough and broad enough!
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Marc Brown: COVID-19 has been devastating for the live music part of our industry. Many people are suffering, both with the loss of income and a lost way of connecting with fans and other artists. We are lucky enough to run a SaaS startup as a distributed team, so I am thankful we’ve been able to ride it out so far. Our platform allows you to collaborate from a distance, securely send and receive music files and streams worldwide from wherever you are. We hope our platform can sustain and grow some of what needs to get done by musicians outside of their live work.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Marc Brown: I feel that the “build it, and they will come,” and VC funding ideal creates a false sense of success. Startups take serious time and energy to get it right. I gave the same advice to musicians in a blog post called “Where is there?”.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Marc Brown: The best advice I ever received was in the form of a question, “what would you prefer, a crisp $10 bill or a ripped $20 bill?”. My advice to anyone would be just to get started with something, anything. Then once you start, don’t give up.
What are the top-three books or movies (TV series) that changed your life and why?
Marc Brown: Music and visual art are what changed my life. Communicating ideas can come in many forms, and those are the most visceral for me. The music of Guided By Voices moves me as much as the day I first heard them, and the influence of the art world’s giants looms large for a reason.
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Marc Brown: To be alive is motivation enough to keep going.
What are the top- three life lessons that you want your (future) sons and daughters to know?
Marc Brown: It’s a little too early for me to say what life has taught me. Please get back to me in 40 years. 🙂
What would you like to be remembered for?
Marc Brown: Being remembered at all would be an honor!
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