Minnesota hasn’t always been considered a music industry hotspot, but the most Western state in the Midwest has produced some of the industry’s biggest names in entertainment. From Bob Dylan to Prince, not the mention The Andrews Sisters and Atmosphere, the land of 10,000 lakes has a history of changing the way we think about what music can both mean and accomplish.
Lifelong Minnesotan Matt Brown is changing the music business as well. For the last decade, Brown and his team have played a pivotal role in shaping how artists and industry leaders alike promote their music online. Brown is the owner and founder of Haulix, a software company that makes it possible for artists of all sizes to discreetly share new and pre-release music with industry influencers without fear of piracy. The company’s client list reads like a who’s who of popular music, including everyone from Chance The Rapper to Metallica, but they also work with smaller acts as well.
“People who use our system are publicists running their own businesses,” Brown explains via email. “[we also work with] independent artists and employees working for larger labels.”
Brown says the key to his company’s success lies in its simplicity. “We purposely designed the system so that you don’t have to be super tech savvy to get your work done. The complicated inner workings are hidden behind an easy to use interface. Most new customers have their contacts imported and a live promo published within 20-30 minutes of signing up.”
Haulix works by empowering music professionals to upload and share their music with members of the press, as well as the industry in general, using unique access links delivered via email invitations. Users can customize the presentation of their release’s landing page, otherwise known as a “promo,” as well as the emails they send their contacts. The company offers watermarking services as well, which Brown says aides clients in uncovering music pirates when leaks occur.
“A customer of ours will circulate a Haulix promo to their contacts,” Brown tells us. “It usually includes people from all over the globe. When they stream or download music through us, we inject a unique identification number multiple times throughout the track that references the listener. If a customer finds their music leaked somewhere (YouTube, Russian Forum, etc.), they get the music files and send them to us. [Our team] then uses special software to scan the data looking for our watermarks. If the marks are there, we can do a quick database lookup and uncover the person in their contact list who initially consumed those tracks. That information isthen sent to the customer along with reports detailing the data injected into the tracks
What happens next? “It’s up to [our clients] to proceed how they wish. Some customers will contact the leaker and [demand an explanation], but some will take legal action. It’s completely up to them; we are just the middleman.”
Music piracy made headlines around the world in the early 2000s with the rise of services like Napster, but in more recent times the subject has taken a back seat to coverage of streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music, which initially promised to combat piracy by offering a cost-effective solution. While such platforms have changed the way many consume music, a report released by MUSO earlier this year revealed digital theft to be worse than it has been in years prior. Brown says the rise of these services “keep us on our toes” as far as their advancements with streaming capabilities are concerned, but he does not seem them or his market competition as a threat at this time.
“There are a few competitors out there,” he says. “Most of them had a head start on us by a few years. [There are also] other hungry, young companies who are working hard to make a name for themselves in the industry. Competition is a good thing. You need that pressure or threat to press ahead and evolve.”
Speaking of evolution, Brown says Haulix recently released several new updates to their service that improve security and user experience, with plans to do even more before the year comes to a close.
“We just added a few security enhancements, one of which is two-factor authentication. Our paying customers can have a code sent to their phone after logging in, as the second layer of security. We’ve also completely overhauled our infrastructure moving to the Microsoft Cloud. Cloud computing is awesome because we can setup auto-scaling so that it ramps up the total number of servers we’re using during the busiest times of the day. We are currently working on the ability for customers to schedule email blasts. We will have that done by the end of the year. As for 2019, we are still prioritizing what we will work on first.”
In addition to the plans outlined above, Brown claims Haulix will soon be relocating to a new office space in the Twin Cities and continuing development on mobile apps for iPhone and Android users alike.
“A lot can happen in only a year, so it’s hard to know where we will be in 2020. As long as we continue to take care of our customers and tighten up our software with valuable new features without making things too bloated and complicated, we’ll be ok.”
AuxCordFM users can receive a full month of Haulix service for free by signing up today. Click here for more information.
In the interest of disclosure, we wanted to also point out that AuxcordFM contributor James Shotwell is a staff member at Haulix.