Music Blogger Generates $10,000 Per Week, Charging Customers $1

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by The Scarlet Pimp, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Senior Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Chair moistener.
    It all started with a music blog…

    In 2011, Jason Grishkoff founded the music blog, Indie Shuffle. It was his first foray into the world of building and marketing websites.

    It was only ever supposed to be a side project, but just a few years later that blog would become the main focus of his life.

    As his traffic grew, Jason struggled with the exact thing I and thousands of other bloggers receive on a daily basis: Pitches.

    Unlike the usual scenario, people weren’t pitching Jason so they could write content for his blog and get a backlink.

    Instead, he was being pitched by artists, record labels and publicists who wanted him to put their music in front of his audience.

    Like me, Jason eventually started ignoring these flood of emails.

    Unlike me, he decided to create a solution to tackle this problem head on, and streamline the barrage of requests he received.

    At the time he was also interested in learning some programming languages, so built the website SubmitHub to “scratch his itch” and hopefully create a solution to his problem.

    As he states on an interview with IndieHackers,

    The idea was simple: interested parties could send their songs (SoundCloud or YouTube) to Indie Shuffle on SubmitHub. We would then receive the submissions in a consistent feed from which we could either give it a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” — the former meant that we were planning to blog it; the latter meant that we weren’t interested.

    He kept the idea in the back of his mind that if SubmitHub ever took off, he would potentially be able to charge a few dollars by explaining to people why their music wasn’t being promoted.

    He figures that telling people things like “You can’t sing in tune” (his words) would be better than not getting a response at all.

    Now, instead of ignoring people who wanted to get in front of his readers, Jason started pointing everyone who pitched him directly to the new site. Due to already having an established brand, word started to spread.

    Thanks to SubmitHub, instead of people pitching music and not knowing whether or not it would be featured, those in the music industry now at least got some kind of response (even if it was just a thumbs down).

    Jason found that other blogs started reaching out to him after learning of his system, hoping to implement something similar on their own websites.

    This led him to thinking how he could expand the concept further, and finally monetise the project.
    This is where it gets really interesting…

    Jason’s plan to monetise the site was both incredibly simple and incredibly smart.

    Jason decided to charge people $1 every time they wanted him to consider their music to be featured on his site.

    Of course, he couldn’t feature everyone who paid the $1, but he did guarantee that all submissions would:

    Receive a quick response
    Know whether it was good enough to be shared
    Know why it wasn’t being shared, if that was the case

    If a submission didn’t get these three guarantees, Jason would send back their dollar.

    To increase his earnings potential (and potential reach for music artists), Jason implemented a credits system so you could submit your music to more than just his website.

    You could then pay $1 to get the feedback of just his blog, or you could pay $10 to get feedback (and potential promotion) from ten blogs.

    The other blogs that were part of the network each have 48 hours to respond to a pitch. If they don’t respond in time, then they don’t get their cut ($0.50 on every dollar Jason receives).

    Just eight months after launching this system, Jason now has 135 blogs and 90 record labels on-board for people to submit their music to.

    In the time of his most recent interview, 17,000 credits had been spent just in the past week, paying out over $8,500 to bloggers and labels.

    To see how things were progressing since then, I reached out to Jason personally.
    The first thing Jason said to me was…

    “First up, we’re making more than $10,000 per week now.”

    I was definitely intrigued to learn more, so asked him questions on how the site is doing, how he manages so many payments and what he sees the risks of this business potentially being.

    SubmitHub took off thanks to the success of Indie Shuffle. How did you grow Indie Shuffle in the first place?

    My mantra has always been to focus on two things:

    1) constantly improving the product

    2) constantly creating and sharing good content.

    Over the years (almost 8 of them now), that focus has continued to build and build and build such that even today — at a time when streaming services are dominating the market — Indie Shuffle still has nearly 300k unique monthly viewers (many who return daily).

    Did you do any outreach at all to get new blogs on board or was it all purely word of mouth?

    There was a *ton* of outreach that went into it!

    Throughout the course of 2016 I probably hand-tailored roughly 1,000 emails to bloggers.

    Ironically, barely any of them responded because their inboxes are so flooded with submissions. Even today, myself and Dylan (employee #1) are constantly reaching out to introduce the product to curators.

    And what about for record labels? I imagine that was more difficult…

    That was actually way easier — most of them were already using the platform to send to blogs, and loved the idea that they could kill two birds with one stone.

    They could:

    1) manage their demo submission process

    2) earn free credits to use on blogs.

    All we had to do was tap into the existing user-base; I think we had more than 50 signed up before we even started.

    How often do you send payouts to the blogs and labels? Do PayPal fees hurt with all the different places you have to send money?

    Roughly 10 times a day.

    They can make a request for cashout as soon as they’ve got a balance of $10. For a while I was making all the payments manually, which had one major pro (they paid all the fees) and one major con (a lot of manual work).

    Roughly two months ago I decided to use PayPal’s mass payments feature to automate the whole thing. Implementing that effectively flipped the pros and cons: I now pay a ~2% fee, but all I have to do is click a button to issue the payment.

    What revenue figures do you typically do in a month? Is the business growing?

    More than $50,000 per month and yes, it’s growing.

    If something were to hurt your business in the future, what would that be? People moving to FB Ads instead of you, etc?

    I think the main “threat” to the business right now is the balance of supply and demand. It’s important that the curators using the platform don’t feel overwhelmed with submissions — there’s a very real risk of burnout. Fortunately we’ve been able to organically balance supply and demand.

    What does a typical day look like in terms of the work for you growing and running this business?

    I typically wake up to ~5 customer support tickets, and receive an additional ~10 throughout the day. The volume is actually really low and manageable — largely due to a decently-formatted FAQ and an earnest effort to try and “pre-empt” any questions that might come up during the user’s navigation of the site.

    I then go for a run, eat some breakfast, and head into the office. From there, Dylan typically handles the ~5 label/blog applications that have come in that day, while I knuckle down and focus on whatever coding task comes my way.

    Somewhere in the middle we both clear the “queue” for Indie Shuffle, which receives roughly ~100 submissions daily. That usually takes us a couple hours, and then I get back to coding and he focuses on outreach.

    In a good day, I find myself coding for around 10 hours which makes me pretty damned happy!
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
  2. louiszhao

    louiszhao Regular Member

    Apr 18, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Wow... I should do this in 2006... :(:(:(
  3. theconscience

    theconscience Regular Member

    May 16, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Whats difference between this and CD Baby?
  4. The Scarlet Pimp

    The Scarlet Pimp Senior Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Chair moistener.
    the guy who started this makes $10K a week.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1