Supercharging Serendipity: Xposure helps artists skip the line to vetted music pros' ears 20 May 2022
Artists want guidance, to get outside insight into making music, but lack access to good guides and clear direction. They have to rely on luck, connections, or intense hustle to get it. Music execs, managers, and other professionals want to share their knowledge. But they are overwhelmed with requests, pitches, random messages, and awkward in-person encounters.
Xposure, a new professional development platform for music, wants to revolutionize these relationships. On Xposure, hundreds of carefully vetted pros offer concrete mentoring and consultation to emerging artists. The platform revolutionizes how artists get heard by leaders in the music industry, tearing down the barriers to get music into their hands. Once they've been heard, artists get guaranteed, high-quality feedback on their work or business plans within seven days, all for an extremely reasonable fee.
To ensure this feedback happens, Xposure harmonizes the needs of music pros with those of aspiring creators. Pros get a service that helps them manage relationships more efficiently. It offers a window into the very beginning of a potentially promising career. And it gives them an easy way to advise and encourage artists on their own terms, on their own time.
"We see our mission as not only streamlining access, but enabling serendipity. We wanted to compress what might take months of outreach or thousands of dollars to get to the right place at the right time, into an engaging interaction for artists and pros," explains Gregory Walfish, co-founder of Xposure. "We want to help people find that breakout moment."
Past platforms and marketplaces aimed to tame the music business' informal economy of connections by getting artists to pay for access—but without any promise of meaningful response. Xposure was designed to build a mentor relationship between music business newcomers and experts.
Highly vetted, Xposure pros hail from the strongest companies and most innovative places in the business. They can check out artists' socials and streams via a Chartmetric API integration, and then give video or written feedback. If the relationship clicks, artists can set up a one-on-one session via video call and schedule it in the app. Payment is easy for both sides, further reducing friction in one of the most fraught moments in the music business.
"It's all about challenging the idea of algorithms determining whether an artist is heard by top music execs and leaders in the space. You're skipping the line to the desk. Xposure provides artists with a chance to get the same access as a viral TikTok success," says Nick Jarjour, Xposure advisor and veteran music business instigator. "The next Adele or Michael Jackson might not be good at social media. They may be talented in other ways. They deserve to be heard."
The idea of skipping the line and getting access via platform has gained legitimacy thanks to apps like Cameo, the celeb marketplace that lets fans buy short shoutouts and other playful content from celebrities. Xposure builds on this potential, bridging the well-respected and -connected with ingenues and creating real opportunity between people once separated by misaligned interests.
Xposure started when two young Montreal entrepreneurs and investors, Walfish and Ryan Garber, were contemplating launching a startup of their own. They were excited by the music and entertainment space, in part because they had witnessed the struggles of their artist friends. They heard about heroic attempts to catch the ear of tastemakers, from hitting them up outside luxury boutiques in Florida, to flying across the continent in hope of a 5-minute meeting.
"Montreal has this big, lively cultural scene. We saw lots of friends and people close to us trying to pursue a music career and facing a lot of obstacles," says Garber. "I realized that if we can help these artists who are feeling hopeless, we can help them be as strong as someone with a big network at their disposal."
At first, they focused on big-name artists who, they imagined, might give brief feedback and affirmation to aspiring creators. Through a mutual acquaintance, they reached out to Steve Aoki. While the electronic musician loved the idea, Walfish and Garber soon saw a problem. "Steve and artists at his level just don't have the time to do this consistently," explains Walfish. "They have so many other commitments. But we realized that his team had just as much value to emerging artists. They have incredible expertise to share. And they have more time and willingness to do so."
Xposure was born. The small team focused on how to attract the right mix of professionals and how to set standards for feedback that would provide real value to artists. "Other platforms limit you to a certain number of characters and do little to prevent reviewers from posting unhelpful or even hurtful comments," explains Walfish. "Others have a low price point, but feedback that's delivered at scale, which is also not helpful. We wanted to make sure artists got specific, detailed responses that could help them improve their craft and move their careers forward. For example, a UMG A&R exec gave one of our artist beta testers a 5-minute video full of advice."
In the future, Xposure aims to take interactions far beyond one-off advice videos or quick calls. The company hopes to expand artists' and pros' networks through ongoing connections and to create a more robust, democratic music business. "In music, you're as successful as your network. We're trying to build this network for artists in a new, more predictable way that fits into their budgets," Garber notes. "It reflects the way many record label execs work. They have a ton of freedom to do things the way they want, but they are trusted to yield results. We've learned a lot from them, and we know artists out there will, too."
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