Starting a Music Licensing Company
Interview with Simon Horrocks, Co-Founder of Affix Music
Tucked away in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta is an innovative company on the cutting edge of music. Affix Music works to utilize technology in licensing urban music to television, film, advertising, games, and digital media industries.
Simon Horrocks and his partner Michael Weeman founded Affix Music in 2009.
Tell me about Affix Music. What are you doing exactly?
Affix Music is an Atlanta-based music licensing company specializing in placing pre-cleared independent urban music in television, film, advertising, games, and digital media. Bridging the gap between music creators and media clients, Affix understands the licensing process from both sides of the business. Focusing solely on urban music, Affix's experienced music industry professionals designed a user-friendly, Internet-based platform featuring a curated catalog tailored to the specific needs of rap/hip-hop, R&B/soul, electronic, blues, jazz and gospel music creators and the media clients interested in using their music.
Were you in the music business before founding Affix?
My partner and I had a music licensing company that was providing the same type of service in an off-line model. The process of clearing music is so difficult in the traditional method we felt there had to be a better way, so we created Affix.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I love the Isaac Asimov quote "the most exciting phrase to hear… the one that heralds new discoveries is not 'Eureka!' but huh - that's funny!"
At the time, I was running Akon's record label while consulting for an advertising agency producing some TV spots. When we got the spots back the music was terrible and was potentially going to offend the audience they were trying to target. Stepping in to remedy the situation, I looked through the CDs of producers I had worked with and found something that fit. The producer got paid money for something he already had and I gave the client something that worked for the spot. I thought- "There's a business here." The next day I asked the producer if I could represent his music to media buyers and he agreed – it all started from there.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
Yes and it was an amazing tool. We bought a business plan software package and "The Art of The Start" and got to work. Anyone can have a great idea, but when you're forced to break it down and really see if there's a market for that idea – that's tough. I looked back at our business plan two days ago and I'm proud to say that the information in that plan is totally relevant to what we're doing today.
Did you have a partner when you started your business? How did you select a partner?
I didn't have one when I first came up with the idea, but Affix is Michael Weeman and myself. Michael saw what I was doing and I had shared my ideas as they were being hatched. One day we went to dinner and he said he'd like to work on it with me. The rest is history.
We had been friends and had done quite a bit of business over the years, but this was on a whole other level. Starting out neither of us knew if we could actually make it work and not kill each other. It's worked out and I can't say enough about my partner- we are so different. He went to law school and I pounded on skins with sticks for a living! That is a large part of why it does work. Find someone that is good at what you're not. Know what your weaknesses are and fill the gap.
Without Michael there is no doubt that this would have never worked.
Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?
It's a huge part of the way a small business can get the word out there, in an inexpensive way. We're just implementing our first real plan, so the jury is still out on if it's a revenue driver. I will say that that Social Media can be approached from so many different angles, you have to do what works for your business and it has to be part of an overall plan.
With the current economy in a slump, what cost saving tips would you have for a new entrepreneur?
Spend every penny like it's your last because it very well may be. When we started Affix, it was a great time to be a start-up, the economy was in very bad shape, so we were able to get great deals on equipment, office space & utilized talent that was available to. The level of folks we had working with us would have never been available or worked for what we had to pay them in a different economy.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Not for Affix we're living the dream!
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Do your homework! It involves understanding music, the music business, intellectual property law and e-commerce. This business is very complex and rights clearance is one of the most complex aspects.
Thanks for your time Simon. We will keep an eye on Affix Music as it grows into a powerhouse!
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