Orfium: “Artists should always control how their music is consumed and distributed”
Here at the 4.5 Blog, we’re always on the lookout for start-ups who are innovating and disrupting in their space. We were recently introduced to Orfium, an LA-based start-up that is providing a one-stop shop for artists to promote and monetise their music.
Below is the transcript of our chat with co-founder Drew Delis, where he explains the functionality of the platform, why it’s unique in the market, and the value it provides to artists across all labels.
-Drew, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. What is Orfium and how does it work?
Orfium is a music social network and rights management platform. For artists, Orfium is a one-stop solution for artists to promote and monetize their music, offering every possible digital revenue service for music through one upload gateway. These services include: retail (digital downloads), licensing, distribution, YouTube monetization, remix monetization, and publishing administration services. We are also working on adding subscription streaming (once our library gets a little bigger) as well as Facebook monetization (once Facebook turns on advertisements).
Why is it unique in the market and what value does it give to its users, especially compared to other music streaming services?
Every service Orfium offers is non-exclusive and artists can opt-in or out of any service at any time. Orfium also offers the highest payout, passing 80% of revenue to the artists with no upfront costs and unlimited free hosting.
For users, Orfium is a great place to discover, share, and consume music from both underground and amateur artists, as well as those from the top tier.
Our philosophy is that artists should always control how their music is consumed and distributed, and our goal is to create the most efficient and flexible marketplace for music.
-Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your professional story?
Yes of course. I am a non-practicing attorney, and while in law school I focused on intellectual property, licensing, and music rights.
My partner and Orfium’s CEO, Chris Mohoney, has a background in accounting and programing. Before we started Orfium, Chris worked at a music tech company managing over six million musical assets on YouTube’s Content ID for some of the largest record labels and music publishers, as well as ran a royalty free sync library.
-Tell is how the idea for Orfium began and evolved. Was there a particular experience that led you to spotting the gap in the market?
The idea for Orfium really began when both Chris and I saw the problems that Soundcloud was having a few years ago with remixes.
At first, Soundcloud was great for underground and independent artist. But once the labels, publishers, and PROs caught word of how much unauthorized music was being streamed on Soundcloud for free, they came down hard and forced Soundcloud to turn their back on those artists and users.
The biggest issue Soundcloud has is the way they set up their database. The site was never meant to be a music site, and they were not capturing the proper meta-data for all the content that was being uploaded. This made it so Soundcloud could never monetize their library, and only monetize their users (by charging them for hosting).
YouTube, on the other hand, does a great job of handling the monetization of unauthorized uploads for the legal rightsholders via the YouTube Content ID system.
Chris and I also saw how the independent music market was fragmented, both from a business perspective as well as the consumer side. As I mentioned above, Chris managed a sync library as well as a YouTube CMS account for Content ID, and his company was constantly trying to get artists who were enrolled in one business to also sign up for the other business. This is when he had the idea that there should be one simple upload gateway, which captures all the necessary meta-data and allows artists to opt-in to every possible digital revenue service for music. For me, as a consumer, I was listening to music on Spotify, buying music from iTunes, as well as discovering new music on Soundcloud. All of these services are one-size-fits all, and the lack of flexibility creates unnecessary barriers of entry. This is very inefficient and we wanted to create a music platform that was totally flexible for artists, and seamlessly handled major label music with direct-artist uploaded independent music.
-Where did you start once you had the idea for Orfium?
When we decided to build Orfium, I was still in law school, and Chris’s company had just sold. When his company exited, he sold his stock, and for the next year, Chris programmed the prototype, living off his savings while I handled all the legal matters. We then hired a few programmers to improve the prototype and in January 2016, we launched the beta version. We then continued to build out the platform, and with the help of a few thousands of early users, tweaked the design. This past July, we launched version 1.0.
Today, Orfium has around 150k tracks from 45k artists, and 15k monthly active users.
-How have you funded yourself so far and what are your plans/hopes for future funding?
We funded the build of the platform completely on our own, and after launching the beta version did a small friends-and-family financing round. Our goal is to stay founder/employee owned so we can ensure that the product does not suffer from investors’ desire for short-term returns. We plan on using the revenue from the rights management side of Orfium—YouTube Content ID, licensing, and distribution—to fund the consumer side of the business.
For more about Orfium, please visit their website.