Amman Ahmed is the co-founder of Rormix - an app designed to promote and support a community of unsigned artists and musicians.
Having secured funding via our Business Loans, Rormix has come a long way in a very short space of time, becoming a regular sight on both mobile devices and gym television screens.
We talked to Amman ahead of his appearance at our Creative England Live event about how the idea for the app was formed and how to keep a start-up going in a tricky arena like the music business...
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into app design…
I started my first business with £1,000 from my student loan; a crazy idea that music can help with better sleep and from there, there was a lot of pivoting. I started working with an artist in El Salvador; from that point on it became a YouTube multi-channel network and we replicated the model and started doing music for concentration and relaxation - even to help dogs relax as well, which is pretty crazy. That business is called RoundWaves.com, it’s a Youtube multi-channel network and gets two and a half million views a month. That put me in a good position to do something else and that’s when I started Rormix. The reason why we did that is because we saw how much quality content there was out there from unsigned and emerging artists and there is no platform out there to represent that and to curate it and to re-organise it in a way to make discovery much easier and that’s when we thought we should build a platform.
For people who may be unaware, how would you described the service offered by Rormix?
It’s a platform of social discovery of independent music videos and our tag line is “Music worth watching”. All of the content is added to our platform and then tagged with commercial artists’ names and it helps making the discovery of their content a lot easier so there are various ways of discovering the content; it is on iOS, Android and Computer and in all of the major gyms across the UK, we’re on all of their screens
What issues do emerging bands face and how does Rormix help them overcome these issues?
I think we stand out from things like Youtube and Vevo becuse Rormix isn’t a place where you upload your music and that’s it - we are all about promoting cross collaboration. We have all of these offline networks like gyms and it’s continuously growing. We have A&R’s using the app as a scouting tool and festivals have approached us and said we want to run a competition and see what’s good. It creates more opportunity and a deeper experience for the content rather than YouTube where you upload your video and that is it, it is left up to you to make things happen, where as we go that extra mile to create other opportunities.
One of the biggest wants of unsigned bands is to be seen, can Rormix boost their visibility and help them gain new fans?
That’s what we are pushing to the next level, there is no platform out there that really engages the gamification of user interaction for example we are now going to put social elements in where people are interacting and being rewarded for that. So we are taking all of this gaming concept and putting a level of addiction to it so the more you as a user and as a fan contribute to the community the more you will get rewarded. It basically creates that audience on steroids because that user knows that they’re actually having an impact on someone’s career and helping and they’re being rewarded for that. We’re basically giving everyone the opportunity to feel like Simon Cowell. That’s what we’re trying to do; because our platform is based purely around emerging music videos we can do a lot more, whereas Youtube is so big it’s impossible for it to move on specific elements. I guess the good thing is that the user has more interaction with the artist because say for an example you are using Spotify you would open the screen you get just text and a bio and that’s it whereas on our app you can lock the screen and it goes into MP3 mode you unlock the screen you have got a video and that interaction and connection with that video is a better experience than reading a bunch of text.
What did the funds you received from Creative England allow you to achieve?
We raised a syndicate round. They put money in, our VC put money in and I think it has allowed us to have a longer run way to prove what we are doing. We’re in music tech - if we were in San Francisco we would easily get a cheque for two million dollars most people do, we didn’t get that much of a big cheque but we have managed to come very far with an extremely low amount of money and this has allowed us to prove that concept even more and it has bought us a little more time, that is the most important thing.
Founders Left-Right: Mark Wheeler, Amman Ahmed, Emma Owens & Chris Farrell
How important is a solid business plan when applying for funds?
I think with any business plan and start-up it is important but it isn’t one hundred percent because your business plan is changing every day and I think it is more about having quite a broad plan so if you do pivot it is still within the line of the business plan. What is more important is to build a team and your product, as well as finding traction because that will prove your concept more than any business plan. I would say build something and then do a business plan, which is what we did.
The music industry is pretty tricky for any start-up to enter, what would you say to other companies that maybe launching a product in the music arena?
Stay naïve. If I knew more now I probably would have moved a lot slower because of the whole legal battles but in the music business there are two ways you can look at it - either it’s scary and messed up or you can look at it that it’s so messed up that its exciting because you can take an opportunity of something before things get established and stable. In terms of being music start-up I think focus on a simple product and get some traction. I said this to my team “if you fall in love with the music and the product then it’s game over, you need to fall in love with the business model and forget about the music” I think if you can do that then you can build a really good start-up.
Rormix has a non-invasive advertising platform. How difficult is it to make a non-invasive advertising platform?
The most important thing from a user experience and an advertisers perspective is that both parties need to be kept happy so if you put a thirty second advert in front of every video like Vevo do then you’re just completely annoying users so we wanted to blur the line between advertising and content; having more of a subconscious advertising. Most importantly, we aim to share the revenue with the artists.
Finally what does 2015 hold for Rormix?
I think 2015 is to continue growing our user base on the app and continue growing our videos, having more partnerships, to have more music videos come to our platform and to have more offline partnerships like our partnership with the gyms. We’re speaking to gyms in the US and Canada and we want to get into airlines. I think we want to go in all directions without spreading ourselves too thin but that is all dependant on how much we can raise as well for the next round.
Find out more about Rormix by visiting their website.
Amman and the RorMix team will be attending Creative England Live. Keep up to date with this event by following us on Twitter and using the hashtag #CELive2015.
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