Craft Brewed Music is a Nashville-based music streaming service designed to stream ‘better music for serious listeners.’
Launched in 2018 by Brian Horner, a professional saxophonist and artist manager, Craft Brewed Music is laser-focused on connecting serious music listeners with great new music discovered on the outskirts of the industry.
Craft Brewed Music was built on the premise that most streaming services are geared toward mainstream audiences. The problem is that it’s not easy to find truly curated recommendations. There’s a frustration that sets in because listeners know there are awesome acts out there to discover – and love -, but they are missing out because there’s no good way to find them.
And so Craft Brewed Music was developed to connect those ‘serious’ listeners with a finely-curated music service.
We recently had the pleasure to chat with Horner, Craft Brewed Music’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer, to discuss a wide range of topics: music streaming, listener behavior, building a streaming service and more.
P&S: What was the jumping off point to start Craft Brewed Music? Did you see a particular segment of the music streaming space that was drawing you in for developing your own product/platform?
Brian Horner: It started out as a tool to help my artists. I’m also an artist manager and I met two people on the road in close succession that asked questions that sparked the idea. First, I was at an event with electric violinist Tracy Silverman and Roy “Futureman” Wooten, the founding percussionist in Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. I was talking to someone and they asked what kind of music I worked with. Without thinking, I responded “it’s kind of craft music,” attempting to describe artists that didn’t fit neatly into any established category – music that was accessible, yet substantial. Not long after, I was on a plane and seated next to a guy who asked me if I ever used investors in my work.
When I got home I brainstormed on the question “what could I build to help my clients if I had a lot of money?” Ultimately, those two conversations led to the creation of Craft Brewed Music. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that nobody was exploring the “craft” space in music and I truly feel that we’re trying to shine a spotlight on this amazing music (my clients and many others) and in doing so defining a genre of sorts (at the risk of sounding overly-grandiose!). Because I designed this from the perspective of an artist manager it is absolutely as artist-friendly as possible within the confines of keeping the business viable.
P&S: Were there any notable obstacles in getting Craft Brewed Music up and running?
Brian Horner: Obtaining funding was the biggest hurdle in the early stages. Someone with a lot of experience in startups told me that it typically takes nine months to get funding (if I remember correctly). In my head I was immediately dismissive: “No way. I’ve got contacts and a great idea. Two months.” Well, it was at least nine months – very grueling months. Once we were funded the biggest hurdle became the inherent challenge in getting people to notice and embrace something new – a familiar struggle for anyone creating music and art that is outside the box.
P&S: How would you describe the ‘serious listener’ your streaming service is geared for?
Brian Horner: Our “serious listener” is someone who enjoys “craft” experiences in other parts of his or her life. They like craft burgers, craft beer and bourbon, and non-chain restaurants and coffee shops. Ironically, they probably like listening to vinyl (I do) and are typically dedicated listeners (as opposed to background listeners).
They want to discover something new and non-corporate and don’t mind being challenged. They’re typically the people that others go to for recommendations.
And they recognize the value of music and want to support the artists they love – the artists who enrich their lives.
P&S: What are your thoughts on the business of music streaming?
Brian Horner: In a recent guest blog post for your site I mentioned that I don’t particularly like streaming, which I don’t.
I’m old-school in that I want to own and hold and read a physical product. When I was a little kid my parents had records, then I bought a few tapes (splitting the cost with my sister and dubbing a copy!), then really got into buying music in high school and that was all CDs. And now back into vinyl. But, as I also said, with regard to the industry (my personal tastes aside), this train has left the station.
And I do think there’s a lot of opportunity for both the artist and the consumer. It’s definitely challenging for the independent artist (my world) to keep up with the constantly evolving platforms and marketing tools that are available – which also represent the growing opportunity, of course. So, while it’s never been easier or more convenient for listeners, it can be challenging, noisy, and confusing for artists.
With regard to the artists on Craft Brewed Music, we try to keep it simple and we pay them as much as possible. Because they’re mostly independent artists who, for the most part, write their own music and own their masters and publishing, we’re able to do simple, direct deals. The money goes straight to the artist/writer, rather than being split in several directions. With regard to the listeners, we’re not trying to get anyone to switch from Spotify or Apple Music to us.
Budweiser will always be around (and is great for certain occasions!). But we want to be the go-to when you want something new, something different, something that makes you think about what went into its making.
P&S: What’s on the horizon for Craft Brewed Music?
Brian Horner: We’re getting ready to launch a podcast that I’m really excited about. We’re in the planning stage and although it will feature interviews and music from our artists we want it to be different from the “usual” interview format. We want to come up with something really “craft” and are doing a lot of brainstorming. I’d like to think that we’ll launch the first episode within a couple of months and we’re planning to have new episodes every two weeks.