Early Talks: The “seaside_demo” story

In today’s music industry, it is an undeniable fact that artists need help. Regardless of your innate talent and charisma, without a team, it is very hard to maximize opportunities and take your career from point A to point B! What’s also an undeniable fact is that there are people out there who want to be that help and play a role in taking an artists’ career to the places they dream of it going…This is something indify knows, which is why the groundbreaking tech company has been striving to create an ecosystem where the above scenario can be a reality. Launched in 2015 under the leadership of Shav Garg, Connor Lawrence & Matt Pavia, indify is the marketplace that aims to create empowering and sustainable careers for artists that spans far past traditional means.

If you’ve been paying attention to tiktok, music and culture recently, then you’ve probably heard the catchy song that goes like, “Hi, baby do you wanna be mine?” This viral masterpiece is all thanks to an up and coming artist named SEB who decided to drop the track, “seaside_demo” after teasing it on tiktok. From there, the song went absolutely nuts, but what most people don’t know is that this moment was maximized by a funding/partnership deal done through indify. Like we said, this platform’s bread and butter is matching phenomenal artists with partners who can add value to their moments/careers without having to sign a long term record deal. After his song went viral, SEB & his manager, Eric Panganiban were able to find an amazing partner in Nick Mueller (CEO of management company, The Golden Kids Group) who was then able to add value to an already moving song; making its moment as impactful as ever! This story is as good as it gets, so we wanted to make sure we told it from every single perspective! Keep reading down below to check out the “seaside_demo” story as told by Shav Garg, Nick Mueller, SEB & Eric Panganiban!

Part 1: The Shav Garg Q&A

Shav: When we started indify, we talked about this. There were times in the basement when we talked about the comparisons to AngelList/YC in the tech industry and how one day we could build a tool that not only allowed you to find the artist but allowed you to invest on the platform itself in an equitable way. On top of this, deep down, Connor, Matt and I were die hard Acid Rap fans..Die hard. Chance the rapper, the whole independent come up and mentality, it was unbelievable and we were obsessed with it. That’s what we got geeked by. We were always waiting for someone to create something that was going to support the independent artist economy. Over the first years of all of us doing this, we realized that the right independent artists weren’t being given the opportunities, the most connected were. Artists weren’t being given opportunities based off of their performance, but rather who they knew. Who’s friend wrote for which blog or who’s cousin was in the music industry. That’s what really broke my heart and that’s why we started indify v1 and the discovery tool. The whole name indify is rooted in the pursuit to empower independent artists.

Sam: And from that version 1, what direction were y’all moving in? When you discovered an artist through the tool, what was the next step?

Shav: Yeah, we’d introduce artist A to manager B or artist C to lawyer D and we would just do that because we just knew that it was an important thing to do for the artist to be protected. What we recognized is that the artists who got on our rank had great teams and access to funding. At this point, we didn’t “pivot” into something new but we dug deeper into the roots of indify and evolved the platform to its natural next step. Now, any artist can come on the platform and raise funding at an early-stage in an equitable way to get to the next level in their careers. This means more artists achieving their potential and choosing their path. The whole platform is about creating more opportunities and more relationships for artists to work with. It could be athletes, tik-tokers, gamers…that’s all going to happen, but it’s also going to be managers and people who have been through the trenches who can take a moment and make sure they maximize the moment while not taking more than they’re giving.

Sam: From my end, this sounds like so much more than the usual artist support. This sounds like artist education and empowerment and liberation…It seems like ya’ll are truly putting wheels on these artist’s careers that are usually given out to a select group of people, but instead, ya’ll are giving them out to the people who truly need them.

Shav: That is exactly it. We are helping put wheels on artists careers! If you can find the artist and match them with strategic funding partners, now you’re creating moments that are helping the artists achieve their potential. When it comes to SEB and the success of “seaside_demo”, what’s exciting is that we were able to match the artist/team with Nick who has been through two similar moments on TikTok before. With the tool the funding partnership was able to happen quickly on platform to allow SEB and his team to maximize the moment without leaving anything on the table. Nick was able to help quarterback the release as far as pitching to DSP’s and other platforms like Snap and TikTok  to leverage his relationships and use his expertise to help the manager and team in the best way possible. Ultimately more value was being created than being taken by the partner; thus the relationship was a win-win. We want every partnership to be a win-win. This is the blueprint. On our side, all credit goes to Jordan, Connor, and the platform team. Jordan/Connor were able to identify this moment and get this artist the help they needed and this platform was able to support this relationship

Sam: Indify is obviously laying down the blueprint for this, but what needs to happen within the music industry that’ll push it to where it needs to be? When Will be the moment where you say, “Okay, the music industry is working fairly.”?

Shav: indify today is the investment marketplace of music. What that means is, indify is a platform where any potential investor can now invest in music at flexible, fair and artist friendly terms. And that means for artists who are rising and looking for funding, they don’t have to sign deals that are 85%, 5 album, master ownership. What happens when that vision is achieved, to your question. That means, any artist who starts to have a moment can raise the exact amount of money that they need from the strategic partner that they need. That’s when indify works. It’s fast. It’s making sure that you’re not giving up 85% for life. That means you don’t have to be Drake to be a success. You can be any level of artist. The minute that they can get funding for them that’s fair and smart for both sides, that’s when the industry is working right. The minute you have a moment and you can capitalize on that moment with the right partner and the right amount of money, that’s when this is working.

Sam: If you had the opportunity to encourage up and coming artists who had no idea how valuable they are as a brand, what would you tell them? I’ve heard you say it time and time again…Artists are founders. If you could speak to up and coming artists on that concept, what would you say?

Shav: The beauty of me talking to them in that room would be that I could tell them the things that I wish I knew when I started. I would tell them that your opportunities are endless. You can succeed to any degree in music. We have friends that are artists who make music as a living, live in a house somewhere they love, and they make $50-$100k a year and they’re happy. We have friends who release every week and are building their careers up and are now making a million a year, and they’re happy. We have friends that sacrifice their lives and really go for it, and are superstars and they’re happy. Whatever you want to do, whatever makes you happy, that’s up to you. But understand that what you have as a kid today making music are streaming platforms that are going to allow hundreds of millions of people around the world to hear you. You have tools that are going to make sure you’re getting paid monthly. You have the internet and social media that can help you reach millions of people. You can do that all from your bedroom and you can do it to the extent that you want to. You can make music for a living and be happy and do what you love to do. I would tell them, what you should do is spend time with yourself and be honest about what your vision is. Do you want to be Drake or do you just want to be someone who makes a living off of music? The beauty of today is that you can choose your path and if you’re smart about your economics, you can be successful at any level, at all varying degrees. No matter what you choose, indify will be here to support you and find the path that makes you happy.

Part 2: The SEB & Eric Q&A

Sam: Did you ever expect seaside_demo to react the way that it did on tiktok?

SEB: Not at all. It really didn’t even start taking off until like 2-3 months after I posted it on there!

Sam: What were your initial thoughts?

SEB: I really thought nothing of it at first until people started hitting me up like yo, this is starting to go crazy. Then friends and family started sending me videos back to back, my dm’s started getting flooded and that’s when it hit me, something was happening.

Sam: How did the Indify X Golden Kids Group partnership come to be?

SEB: Jordan over at indify reached out to talk and started telling me about the new space indify was moving into where they’d pair artists with investors. That was really interesting to me and honestly perfect timing. He introduced us to Nick over at Golden Kids Group, who having been in a similar situation before, had I pretty good idea of what to do.

Sam: What was enticing about getting to form a deal through indify? How did the partnership elevate your song/moment?

SEB: The two options were either to just put it out or to hear indify out and try this deal. After Eric and I talked about it a lot we decided it was best to get help on it. The part that really got me was the fact that doing this deal allowed me so much freedom as an artist. Especially if you’re having a moment like this where you want to make the most out of it, and not fumble it. Listening to their expertise, we were able to do all the right steps to really have this song breathe and hit a ton of people.

Sam: Looking back on it, would you encourage other independent artists to utilize Indify’s resources?

SEB: Absolutely. I honestly don’t see why not. If you know what you’re goal is with a particular project or song, I think indify is an awesome company to partner with because they’ll just help guide and make the right connections.

Sam: Did you ever expect seaside_demo to react the way that it did on tik-tok?

Eric: I really didn’t, but in a way, Seb has been building up to this moment. “seaside_demo” was actually meant to serve as a transition from doing covers on TikTok to introducing his audience to original music. He felt like he couldn’t just go straight from covers to his original music because he didn’t think it would translate well, so then he came up with this idea to write original songs that were inspired by other popular, more notable songs. 

Sam: What were your initial thoughts?

Eric: For me it was figuring out how to react to the moment as it was building. It’s been hitting all of these different benchmarks and we’re constantly thinking “Okay great, what’s next?” 

Sam: As a manager, did you believe this moment was going to happen inevitably for SEB?

Eric: I never thought Seb would have a viral moment, but it’s not surprising. You can’t plan for these things to happen but I do think that it’s a testament to how he’s been slowly building his audience over the last 12 months. We’ve seen fans react to him and his music in the past, and so I think we always knew that there was a possibility because of TikTok, but at the end of the day, virality wasn’t what we were focused on. We were focused on things that we can control and setting that foundation for a long career. All of this that’s happening with seaside is great, but it doesn’t change our focus on long term goals.

Sam: Why did you choose to utilize indify and GKG to maximize this moment?

Eric: It’s important for Seb to maintain a level of freedom and so we wanted to release this independently. Partnering with GKG through indify allowed Seb to not only maintain independence but also get the value a more traditional partner can provide. We jumped at the opportunity to work with Nick and GKG because if there’s anyone in industry that understands the landscape, it’s him. We also loved the artist-first approach that indify has, the level of support and guidance that they’ve provided throughout this process can’t be discounted.

Sam: Looking back, are you glad you formed the partnership?

Eric: 1000%. At the end of the day, indify is just trying to create more options and opportunities for artists and GKG also believes in that vision. I’m thrilled that we get to be a small part of what they are trying to accomplish.

Part 3: The Nick Mueller Q&A

Sam: First and foremost Nick, I’d love to get your thoughts on indify and talk about why you think what they’re doing is so valuable to the industry right now. Obviously, you’ve known this gang for some time, so tell us a bit about it!

Nick: Yeah, like you said, I’ve known them for a while. I think I’ve always been a person who loves to help people win and that’s what i’ve built myself off of, that’s what I’ve built my business off of and when I met them, I got that same vibe, I got that same energy from them. It was the same mindset that they were carrying. That’s why we clicked so well as friends. There was actually a  period of time, almost 3 years I would say, where nothing happened. We were just friends. They would tell me about the platform, I knew about the platform, but nothing was happening yet. Then I saw it starting to build, we got closer as friends and they were like, “If your independent artists ever need anything, just let us know.” So I talked to them and got some of my artists on there and they approached me about starting a fund on indify. I asked them what that entailed, they told me; And I was also at this place in my career where I wanted to build the company’s name as well. Management is great, but there’s more to it. One thing about me is that I don’t like ownership on the artist side. I love owning things, but not the artists. So, I did the fund and basically, it’s just the Golden Kids Fund that allows me to invest in artists, whether it be songs, albums, EP’s, whatever…I’m able to provide digital advice, whether it be social media or TikTok and however they need help, I help. I think indify is a great tool for artists and teams who don’t necessarily know how to get to the next level, but don’t want to give up ownership by signing to a label or doing a bad deal. It’s just a middle ground. I look at it as a bridge. How I see myself, which is how I also so the platform, is a bridge from A to B for artists who don’t have a way of transportation.

Sam: So as far the artists that you’ll be looking to fund in the future, what are some intangible things that you’ll be looking for in partnerships based off of your experience/success with this SEB partnership?

Nick: Yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to the artists and their teams. What type of people are they, but also, what are they looking for. There are a lot of artists that have moments and have songs that could go, but some of them not even want it. I’ve talked to so many artists who have told me, “I don’t necessarily want this.” For me, I look at, what do they want. Does it align with what I think I can do and if I’m able to provide that value that ca get them to the level that they want to get to, I’ll do it. 

Sam: Love that, bro. So with that, what did you see in SEB and Eric that made you want to fund them and help them out?

Nick: I basically knew that this song could have a moment and get big. SEB & Eric didn’t want to give up ownership and sign to a label because they didn’t feel like they were ready and you know, some distributors are good, some are not and I was willing to bet on myself and bet on the song and they trusted me and it’s been great. But, I think what originally made me want to do it, I just knew what I wanted to do with the song. 

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