Interview with Josh Markarian
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Hi Josh! Could you please introduce your work with Discover Vinyl and tell us how you grew what was originally a blog into the successful company it is today?
Hi my name is Josh Markarian and I'm the founder of Discover Vinyl. Discover Vinyl as a music blog and community of record collectors covering the full spectrum of rock from pop punk to metal core discover vinyl highlights trending vinyl releases while also shining a light on the underground. Discovered Vinyl was able to transform from a blog into this into a company simply through being community driven. We source our content and also decide what to do with our content through what the community is talking about at the current moment. Through having our ear to the ground, we're able to create content that fans are really interested in engaging with as well as being able to participate with themselves. Through starting a conversation about music that we all love and expressing it in different ways of our favorite lyrics from an album or the different various pressings that vinyl comes in, people are able to show their love for music while also supporting the bands they really believe in and using as a form of self-expression. Being community-based is more than just sharing music that people are talking about. It's also about being supportive and helping spread positivity throughout the space. One thing that the vinyl community is really big is on Instagram the vine community talks to each other, they speak up about urgent issues but they also share about different record labels and releases that they're really into. Through being involved in the community while also acting as a leader and using the audience in the channels we have for a purpose- that is how we've been able to grow is because in the end all we want to do is spread music and help others get their message across, while maintaining that aspect of vinyl.
How does Discover Vinyl help people to discover new music in a way that platforms like Spotify couldn't?
Discover Vinyl is able to help artists in a very of way various manner ways that different platforms like Spotify, Bandcamp and iTunes aren't able to do simply through the physical medium. One thing that's beautiful about vinyl is it commands your attention. When you play it, spin it, hold it, pull it out of the packaging or even browse through your collection. It's using multiple senses. One thing that people when they press vinyl that they take great care of is they love the different packaging options that you can use when pressing a vinyl that way when you're listening to it, you're fully engulfed in the experience beyond simply the music. One way to Discover Vinyl helps people find this is through showcasing album art and music equally when we showcase features on our website or through Instagram and highlight different artists; we're highlighting both the music, its influences and also how the artist used vinyl in its packaging to express their artistic idea. We love showcasing both black standard vinyl, but also special colored vinyl and picture discs and splatter in different ways than an artist can show a theme or a mood or an expression through this artwork. Through not only that being community driven is one way that we're separate from Spotify- people are actively recommending artists and vinyl for each other. Word recommendations go a huge way in the vinyl community and it's as simple as one person gets an album that they love and they post about it and 10 or people just found their new favorite album because they would rather take someone's opinion that they're actively engaging with and that they like their general sense of music than just a recommended playlist on Spotify.
What are some of the biggest challenges still facing the analog music industry?
I think one of the biggest issues still facing the analog music industry is the availability for new artists to get their music on vinyl. A lot of newer bands, regardless of the age or genre don't know that it's very accessible to get their music on vinyl and it's not only low cost but there's different ways that you can structure it, so that you can get your music on vinyl without breaking the bank or going long distance and making mass pressings of vinyl. One thing is one common misconception is you need to be signed to a record label to release your music on vinyl. There are different ways, whether it's crowdfunding or doing preorders or simply doing small press vinyl pressing where an artist is able to get their idea and their E.P. or their music on vinyl for an affordable or sometimes at no cost simply for selling it at a lower price, later on. Other issues that are facing the analog music industry is, the simple statement that, "Vinyl is dead". People are making a separation between the analog and the digital. There is no reason why Spotify, Bandcamp and vinyl can go hand-in-hand and Bandcamp is an amazing example of this Bandcamp as a platform for music streaming that just partnered with an amazing record pressing vendor Pirates Press to bring vinyl straight to the artist without the need to sign to a record label. With press as you need vinyl and artists being able to directly create mockups and release vinyl to fans that is something that's brand new to the industry and solves a huge challenge the industry is still facing. I think bands should be more aware that it is affordable and it's smart to put your music on vinyl early on.
What's next for your work with Discover Vinyl? Where do you see the company in five years?
This is a great question, being that discover vinyl is just a year old there is a lot of different places I would love to take it. One thing that I want to remain true to is the small batch, creative focus. I love working with only one two maybe three clients at a time because of the fact that we're able to give them our full attention and really create a unique experience around that artist and get their vision out there. One thing I would love to do as we grow, would be to extend into the distribution areas of vinyl and help other labels that are small, or our size, or other publications and booking agencies spread the word and cast a bigger umbrella. I love creative partnerships and strategic partnerships and branching into other ways. And one thing that really drives me is when I see cross genre bills and artists of different genres on the same bill. One day I would love to set up a music festival. But even though it may not be within five years, past five years, that is one of my goals. Within five years maybe one day we'll have a Discover vinyl stage at South by Southwest or I would love to be able to start extending more artists services to our artists beyond marketing and advertising because you can create a full sustainable career being a band and we want to help bands do that while also building their audience and creating genuine content.
What were some of the most groundbreaking projects you've undertaken with Discover Vinyl? What led to your working with companies like Warner Music Group?
There hasn't been one specific most groundbreaking project that we've done with Discover Vinyl. While yes it's amazing to say we were able to work with Warner Music and Led Zeppelin to help bring together the fiftieth anniversary campaign of Led Zeppelin One, that hasn't been the most groundbreaking that we've done because bringing in artists that doesn't have a fan base and letting them see real traction and connect with real with fans for the first time is an experience that I've never been able to see before. I think working with small and independent bands has been the most rewarding because I'm able to bring the marketing campaign and the strategy behind big names and big label campaigns to boutique level bands and implement it in easy steps that they can execute now. Being able to parallel between independent labels and major labels is one thing that I think more people should be aware of that there isn't a big gap between the different strategies that big bands and small bands are using. It's simply how to connect with your audience and give them content that they really like. That's probably been the most groundbreaking thing we've done is- help smaller bands realize they can still be dominating a genre and an industry and being the topic of conversation. As long as they're putting out genuine music and being realistic to who they are. As long as an artist is making music for themselves and not making it for to appease fans they're making it because that's who they genuinely are. That is when an artist will be successful and being able to help artists get their message across, when previously they didn't know how to and using vinyl as that medium that's probably been my favorite thing going forward.