Founders Josh Simons and Barry Palmer break down their social app with creative connection at the forefront.
Connecting with musicians has never been more important, and more difficult. Constant lockdowns and COVID related blunders has left the music world seemingly in the dust. Word of mouth seems to be a thing of the past and how would you know if someone who is going to help you on your musical journey is just around the corner from you?
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Cue Vampr: A mobile app that was dreamed up by Josh Simons who had considerable success with his band Buchanan in the 2010’s which included performing on Triple J’s Like a Version, supporting Keith Urban and working with esteemed producer Simon Duffy on their second LP. That success was great but apparently didn’t translate so well moving to the UK to work on their second record.
“I was in England at the time, trying to build upon some success I’d had in Australia through Triple J with my band called Buchanan,” says Josh, “but it turns out I didn’t know enough people. I didn’t have the time or the budget to hang around an expensive city when I started from scratch again, and it immediately became apparent to me that a technological shortcut through networking and career advancement was sorely missed.
“So I called Baz, who was my old label manager who signed me to my first deal in 2010, and I said ‘this has been my experience, was it this hard for you when you were younger?’ As it turns out, yes it was. And it turns out that pretty much everyone’s had this experience, which is, how do you build a team of folks that can take you forward and get to that crucial next step without blowing your life savings or inheritance, or whatever you’ve managed to put away from working at a bar? It was apparent that there was a lack of technological solutions and it was a problem I was passionate about solving.”
Baz, whose proper name is Barry Palmer, played guitar for legendary Australian rock group Hunters & Collectors, started his own 360 degree record label and has been involved in tech startups in the past, including music live streaming service Soundhalo. Fair to say, he knows his way around the music and tech industries.
“The original premise was how do we make networking easy? How do we connect someone so that they can collaborate?” says Palmer on Vampr’s goals adding “We want someone who’s starting out in their career to have the opportunity we just didn’t have. Distribution, networking, the digital has changed the world. It’s replacing the analog and it’s opening up all these doors for us to do things we just couldn’t do before. And Vampr is the hub of the wheel.”
Palmer talks about heading all the way to collaborate with someone you haven’t met before, only to realise that “despite the fact that you like the same artists, you haven’t actually spoken to each other and you actually don’t have that much connection. It’s all basically about nuance, if you say you like rock or EDM or whatever, think about all the miniature verticals inside that, think about how different one person’s version of EDM is from someone else’s. We’re basically saying ‘hey, you can connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, collaborate with them and get to know them before you dive in.”
This feature of being able to connect with other people and understand what artists they’re into was an important feature to Rae Khalil, who met producer and collaborator Jared Rubens on Vampr. “I believe that all of the connections one makes in their lifetime are meaningful. Whether that is for 10 mins or for 50 years. The connection I made on Vampr turned out to be a long lasting friendship and career altering partnership.”
Khalil, who has had considerable success after connecting with Rubins through the Vampr app in 2018, has gone on to appear on the Netflix show Rhythm + Flow, jam with Anderson .Paak & Chance the Rapper, and have her own NPR Tiny Desk concert.
Speaking of the app, Khalil says her favourite feature is “the way the filter is set up. I’m able to find exactly the type of producers that work with my sound and also find ones that get me out of my comfort zone and make something totally different for me.”
Recently hitting one million users, Vampr has a large community of creatives available to connect with. Swiping through profiles like you would on popular dating apps such as Tinder has a familiar feeling, but instead of looking for a date, you’re looking for a collaborator. There’s something unique about the way you can view potential collaborators profiles and get a quick snippet into what they do without ever leaving the app.
“What we’re hearing from our creative brethren across the platform is that they love this instant resume. If I’m a muso, I connect my Youtube, I connect my Soundcloud, and if I go towards a Pro subscription there’s more content I can share. We’re in the visual and audible arts most of us, so if I want to connect with you, what do you want to see from me? As much of my work as possible. You want to be able to hear it and view it, and then you’ll get closer to going ’okay, you know what, we can do something together.’ That goes for painters, videographers, you name it.”
Vampr functions as a dual tiered platform, with a free and Pro offering available. Spending a little extra gets you a large range of tools to use including music distribution, which Josh describes as “hyper competitive. It’s among the cheapest distribution offers in the world. There’s a couple of free services out there but they make you give up a percentage of your royalties. With Vampr Pro you keep 100% of your royalties and it’s $4 [US] a month.”
Alongside this, there are 16 offerings within the Vampr Pro bundle, including searching in remote areas, increased connection requests and the ability to broadcast your Vamps—Vampr’s version of Instagram stories—to a large audience on the platform.
On this, Josh says: “We realised that there was no way to quickly post new content on Vampr, so we created this thing called Vamps. Vamps are like Instagram stories but the difference is you’re only talking to creators and peers which is a very different context. One of the Pro features is broadcast to everyone. That means literally everyone who is online in that 24 hours sees it, after we use AI to sort it, so it’s not shown to irrelevant people. That’s part of Vampr Pro, or you can buy an individual pack and publish it for 99 cents.”
For those not looking to pay for the additional features, Vampr has initiated happy hour, which allows you to connect with unlimited profiles for one hour a month. “We did it because, you know what, people really love this, and they should be able to connect with lots of people if they really want to. It’s in the freedom of generosity that Vampr always aims for” says Palmer.
Vampr has also recently added publishing to their bag of tricks. It’s available to all their users, and requires no upfront spend which is one of the more enticing offers here. For the uninitiated, publishing is how your music gets synced to television and movies. Basically they’re putting your music forward to screen companies in the pursuit of getting your music on the hottest new Netflix show.
Josh explains that: “It’s a really beautiful platform that we’ve rolled out. Just under a year ago it launched and we spent most of that first year building catalog, but honestly, it’s probably the simplest way to upload music to a publisher, anywhere in the world. You just take any link you like that points to your music, answer a few questions around metadata, rights and ownership, and our technology sorts things based on some of those qualifiers, and then basically our A&R team turns up to work and sifts through the tracks.
“The other unique thing about the offering is the split is very artist friendly, where there’s no fee upfront. Other services in the space charge the young musician money for representation where we don’t do that. We take the cost and responsibility of pitching, and then if we land a sync, the deal is 65/35. Probably the most artist friendly solution to publishing there has been. There’s currently over 40,000 songs in the catalog. Watch that space, as it’s one of the more exciting things we’re working on.”
With the recent announcement of adding spatial audio tools, alongside mastering and minting your own NFTs through third party companies, Vampr is shaping up to be the app for musicians and creatives. The app fills a void as an all-in-one mobile app that offers services all musicians will benefit from, including finding collaborators, sharing your music with a large audience, distributing your music to the major DSPs and the opportunity for your music to be synced to the big screen.
Head to Vampr to check out the app and get networking.