A Conversation With Austin Staubus, Managing Director Of ItsNoRequests

Posted by on March 21, 2017

Austin Staubus

Cutting through the noise online is hard work. In fact, it’s harder than it’s ever been for an artist to have their music heard and placed by the right blogs, curators, and streaming services. That’s why we recently sat down with Austin Staubus, the Managing Director of ItsNoRequests, who’s worked with countless labels, Grammy nominated artists, and management teams to help them identify and leverage independent curators and playlists on Spotify. We caught Austin at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood, where we talked the current music climate, streaming, and the importance of Soundcloud and Youtube curators.

FNT: Austin – thanks for sitting down with us.

ItsNoRequests: I’m glad to be here.

FNT: You’re the Managing Director of ItsNoRequests, headquartered here in Los Angeles. Can you tell us what ItsNoRequests is, and how you add value to artists and labels?

ItsNoRequests: Absolutely. ItsNoRequests provides comprehensive digital strategies to artists, labels, and management teams looking to reach large playlists online. We leverage our network of independent playlists to help our clients deliver real plays and engagement. Spotify and Apple Music are incredibly competitive platforms. We aim to help our clients cut through the noise and see real measurable returns.

FNT: You’ve been a fixture in the blogosphere since 2008. You’ve written countless articles and think-pieces here at FreshNewTracks.com. How has the blogosphere changed since you started?

ItsNoRequests: An incredible amount. FreshNewTracks.com was one of the earliest music blogs to market. It was in good company with early tastemakers like GoodMusicAllDay.com and ThisSongIsSick.com. A feature on any one of these sites was coveted by artists looking to reach a large audience online. There was an incredible amount of rivalry between the publishers as well, which made it fun. What Tim and Nick accomplished was inspiring. Presently, blogs don’t move the needle like they once did for an artist. They’re slowly dying, which is a shame.

FNT: I’m glad you brought that up because you raised an important point in your recent guest post with eMastered. You said “Soundcloud and Youtube curators are the new blogs.”  Can you expand on that?

ItsNoRequests: Of course. But first, I’d like to talk eMastered for a brief moment. It’s an incredible technology created by Grammy award winning engineers. eMastered has developed a technology that masters any kind of song in seconds. It sounds incredible and is a perfect tool for an up-and-coming artist that doesn’t have the budget to have a song professionally mastered. My hats off to Collin McLoughlin and Smith Carlson.

FNT:  It’s a genius idea and sounds much better than their competitors.

ItsNoRequests: I agree. So, back to Soundcloud and Youtube curators. These curators have amassed large followings and subscribers. They wield significant influence and can make or break a record. Premiering your release on a curator’s platform has so many advantages. Sure, you’re losing some control. However, you’re reaching an audience that’s very likely never heard of you or your brand. The benefits of working with a curator far outweigh the negatives in my mind.

FNT: Who are some of your favorite curators?

ItsNoRequests: On the Youtube side, I think Selected does a fantastic job. I love their aesthetic and emphasis on quality house releases. Another favorite is Proximity. Blake has really scaled the business. It’s very cool to see. On the Soundcloud side, it’s hard to go wrong with The EDM Network. They run a tight ship and are always professional.

FNT: Let’s talk the current music landscape. EDM has been a dominant force for the past few years. It’s even infected the pop music space. Do you see EDM continuing to grow in 2017?

ItsNoRequests: That’s a great question. I don’t. I think we’ve hit “peak EDM”. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a market for dance music. Established dance acts will continue to thrive. However, I think hip-hop is going to have a big showing this year. Just look at Calvin Harris’s new “Slide” single with Migos and Frank Ocean. Consumers don’t realize this, but hip-hop is most streamed genre on platforms like Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Music. It’s all you hear in clubs like Warwick and Nightingale in LA. I predict hip-hop is going to have a big resurgence in 2017.

FNT: Talk to us about streaming. How does an unknown artist catch someone like Tuma Basa or Mike Biggane’s ear at Spotify?

ItsNoRequests: It all comes down to audience reaction. Tuma, for example, looks closely at the insights when making a decision on a record. He looks closely at factors like completion rate, saves, and what playlists the record is on. Spotify wants to playlist records that are performing well on their own. That’s why independent playlists are so important. We manage a large network of independent playlists that give us the ability to deliver up to 1,000,000 plays in 12 weeks time for any artist or label. Independent playlists are key.

FNT: How important is Spotify compared to Apple Music and Tidal for an artist? Is Soundcloud still a platform that artists should be focusing on?

ItsNoRequests: I’m glad you asked. It’s clear that Spotify is ahead of both Apple and Tidal by a large margin. There’s a reason Apple Music hides the play counts. I wouldn’t count Apple out, however, I think they have a large hill to climb. We’re fast approaching a climate where getting your record included on playlists is all that matters for an artist. To the Soundcloud question, I still think Soundcloud is a viable platform, however, I think its lost ground to Spotify. People want to listen via curated playlists. I don’t know how Soundcloud counters.

FNT: Austin, thanks for all the insight. We enjoyed it.

ItsNoRequests: Always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Austin Staubus is the Managing Director of ItsNoRequests headquartered in Los Angeles. Austin has worked with countless Grammy award winning artists and labels, helping them leverage large playlists on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. Austin can be reached for comments, questions, and inquiries at [email protected].

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