On The Record: The founders of Feed chat to us about paid social for artists

Hey, could you introduce yourselves to our readers?

Hello, we’re Feed! (the people actually writing this are the founders – Joshua and Nick)

Feed is a platform that automates digital advertising so artists can reach new audiences, and convert them into loyal fans over time. Feed automates the whole process of running ads on Facebook and Instagram: identifying an artist’s most engaging content, handling ongoing ad setup and targeting and optimising ads around the clock.

Do you both have backgrounds in the music industry?

Yes, though from pretty different angles!

Joshua: Before Feed, I headed up digital at Transgressive Records, and worked on campaigns for Flume, Let’s Eat Grandma and Johnny Flynn. Before that, I was at Warp Records working with artists like Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus. I’m also a designer, developer and musician myself.

Nick: I worked in music management and projects – mainly in the classical world – with artists and composers who bridge the gap between classical and other genres, such as Eric Whitacre. I actually started out as a musician too, then moved into economics & finance to become an investor for a number of years… before seeing the light and heading back into music!

How did the idea of Feed emerge?

Joshua: Coming from a record label background, I would see the vast amounts of time, cash and luck that are required to break an artist. With so many people and companies involved the artist needs to become huge in order to justify the investment! This makes a record deal so much harder to come by if you’re a new artist. However, with billions of people online, there is the potential for every artist to find an audience out there that would allow them to build a career around their music. It’s just a case of working out how to reach that audience without the support a record deal traditionally provided. That’s what we want to do with Feed… build the tools that give artists the marketing and financial resources they need. That means artists are the only ones who need to get paid and they’re the ones running their businesses.

Nick: I’ve known Joshua for years and loved his vision of a more decentralised music industry where artists have the tools to build their own careers. I thought the combination of Joshua’s music industry & digital marketing experience and my financial & investment experience would be pretty valuable for building these tools.

What was the original intent and mission statement?

Joshua: There were quite a few iterations! But it’s basically boiled down to: “People create great things. We help them find their audience”.

Nick: I guess underlying that is the idea that, for any musician, there is an audience out there who will love what you do. It doesn’t need to be millions and millions of people (1,000 true fans and all that) but in theory billions of people online are within reach… Feed exists to help artists find their audience from those people.

How exactly is Feed useful for musicians and artists?

Nick: we built Feed specifically to work for musicians, who might be facing time, budget and marketing knowledge constraints. It can build your audience even if you have no marketing experience, limited time, no team and a small budget. It’s designed to run in the background: all you have to do is sign up, connect your Facebook & Instagram profiles and set a budget.

Joshua: Musicians are inherently interesting people, and are generally spending lots of effort and time into putting great content on social media. What Feed is designed to do is create ads out of those posts, and over time figure out which ones work best to different audiences. So your budget is spent on what actually works, rather than wasting money on ineffective boosts or sinking a huge amount of time on Facebook ads manager. 

Nick: in terms of audiences, Feed sets up a marketing funnel, so it’ll target ‘cold’ audiences and find new fans but also retarget people who may have seen a video or liked a post but aren’t yet followers/listeners, and work to re-engage existing fans too. 

Do you have any ad advice for emerging artists?

Joshua: our main advice would be to keep it natural! We’ve been saying for ages (and the data now shows) that people engage with more natural, organic feeling posts and ads way more than anything that looks too salesy, or like marketing.

Nick: also check out the different types of audience you can market to, and adjust your content accordingly. For example, an ad saying ‘album out now’ with the artwork to a cold audience (people who haven’t heard you before) probably isn’t going to go all that well. Behind the scenes content, making music, recording, ‘nerdy’ content (eg. about your latest synth) is all stuff that works really well.

How did the crowdfunding go?

Joshua: good so far! As we write this, we have just under 2 weeks to go but we’ve already hit 225% of our original target and raised over £100k. 

Did you notice significant investment from the music community?

Nick: yeah! It’s been great to see lots of the Feed community getting involved as well as the wider music community as well. Feed is built for musicians, and now owned by musicians too!

What’s on the horizon for Feed?

Joshua: we have some big updates planned for the future around interest targeting and conversion campaigns. The general principle with Feed is we want to keep it really simple no matter how complex the stuff going on behind the scenes is… so it takes a little longer to design things well.

Nick: and beyond that, we’re looking forward to adding other ad networks into the platform like YouTube and Twitter. We’ve also got an eye on TikTok to see how that develops!

Where can people find out more?

You can check out our Instagram @feed.hq, head to our website tryfeed.co or sign up and look around at beta.tryfeed.co/join.

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