05 August 2012
The Drum Sample Broker Interview: Business Breeds Branding and Better Bargains
First and foremost what prompted you to start The Drum Sample Broker website?
I've always been a fan of dope drums. As a beatmaker and producer, its kinda hard to ignore some of the amazing talent out there when it comes to drum programming and selection. The Drum Sample Broker website started as a fusion of my USB Flash Drive business with the distribution of Illmind's Blap Kit. The pet project has turned into a full fledged mission to be the #1 source for dope drum samples for producers and beatmakers.
With an exclusive arrangement to distribute Illmind's kits, I began reaching out to some of the most talented producers, sound designers, and diggers in the industry to package and distribute their drum sounds. We currently have kits from Illmind, M-Phazes, Beat Butcha, V Don, Vokab Beats, and a handful of diggers and sound designers. We have exclusive kits coming from Judah, a new M-Phazes kit, Alterbeats, and some producers that I won't mention.
The quality control and producer selection had to be top notch with my site. We are catering to a very specific niche of Boom Bap & Hip Hop Producers.
Were you tired of other sites that were presented to the beatmaking massive?
Yes & no. There are some really awesome sites selling amazing drum kits. To mention one site I love... I've been a fan of Banginbeats.com material since I first started making beats. You also have larger sound design companies like East West that also have some amazing material. But for every quality sound design site/drum sample site there are 10 that are completely garbage.
Some of these sites will steal drums, rename the files, and repackage and distribute them as their own. Other sites are run by online marketers and SEO experts whose only purpose is to make money. I'm not knocking the hustle, but buying sounds from people who know nothing about sound design or producing seems a little sacrilegious.
There is also a whole niche based around "knock off" or "producer kits". These sites cater to whatever producer is hot in the industry, and will slap that producers name on a kit full of recycled sounds. Again, I can't knock the hustle, but you won't get the quality you will with other sites and companies. The problem with these sites is that they leave a bad taste in consumers mouths and discourage people from buying quality products.
Our site keeps our sound selection small. For instance, the Illmind kits have 150 samples each. It's ridiculous for some sites sell gigs and gigs of drum samples & sounds. It makes the beat making process tedious and inefficient when you have to scour a massive library to find something dope. Our motto is quality over quantity. I always encourage our producers and sound designers to keep their kits minimal, with emphasis on quality and sound selection.
I was perusing the website and this sentence stood out the most. Our drum kits are designed by producers for producers. Do you care to expound on that statement?
Again, our producer line up is hand picked. I'm creating relationships and distributing kits by producers & sound designers with amazing drums, engineering talent, and placements. These are career music producers who eat, breathe, and get paid based on the quality of their beats and ultimately their drums.
It only makes sense that these are the guys people get their samples from. Of course you can always dig for dope sounds yourself, and I think that is the key to having "signature" drums, but for the sake of building a dope library, it makes sense to get the sounds direct.
Lets put it this way... I'll never release a Dj Premier Drum Kit unless Dj Premier gave me the drums himself.
The thing that I like about The Drum Sample Broker is the name recognition of some of the beatmakers. Was it difficult to pitch the idea to Illmind, M-Phazes, Beat Butcha, Vokab Beats and others?
The idea was not hard to pitch to the producers we have on the site. Having a solid reputation is the key to building online business relationships and it has taken years to build this reputation. I've pitched the idea to some other producers and beatmakers I'd like to work with who weren't interested. You can't get everyone's drums and not everyone is interested in selling themselves and I totally respect that.
Realistically though, we live in the Internet Age where people want instant gratification and efficiency reigns supreme. Its my job to fill that void and give people what they want. I'll never sell something on my site that I wouldn't be willing to purchase myself.
Another thing that I like about the site is the fact that you present exclusive drum kits from renowned beatmakers. Explain the importance of exclusivity in regards to presenting quality drum sounds.
Anyone can make a drum kit and sell it on X, Y, and Z's website. To me, this devalues a product and makes it a commodity. Further, the sounds will be pirated and it will further dilute the pool of quality samples available to consumers and beatmakers.
Having top notch and exclusive drum kits created by the producer and sound designer specifically for our site ensures quality and maintains integrity and reputation. It might sound like a bullshit sales pitch, but I truly believe it.
As a business owner what are some barriers that you encounter with this niche market?
The biggest barrier is earning the trust of our customers. No one likes to get ripped off online and I think its fair to say we have all been ripped off or scammed at some point. This is both a good and bad thing. It's good because it makes us cautious/smart shoppers and online consumers. It is bad because there are a lot of boutique and niche businesses out there that people overlook. We spend a lot of time making the site easy to navigate with a minimal approach.
Every kit has dope and professionally designed artwork, example material, and product description. I spend a lot of personal time and money ensuring that the site appears trustworthy. Once a customer purchases a kit from us, they will generally purchase more. We have a solid repeat customer base which I attribute to the quality and attention to detail of the site.
What demographic does The Drum Sample Broker target?
I like to tell people we appeal to Boom Bap & Hip Hop producers and beat makers, however, the sounds span cross genres and can be used in any type of production including Electronica, Musical Scores, etc. I try my hardest NOT to appeal to musical trends, i.e. dub step, trap muzik, etc.
Our sound selection can easily be used in any genre, but we are aiming to appeal to producers who create timeless and tried music. Trendiness is never a selling point for our site and I think it's a desperate sales pitch for a lot of products in general.
I love the fact that you provided a solution to a problem (cheap sounding drum kits) and presented a lane where expertise is valued. Are you currently looking for more beatmakers to work with? Describe that selection process If you will.
I'm always seeking new talent. I have a list of people I will approach when the time is right. If I can't get the best and top notch people on my team, then I don't see the point in trying to create drum kits just for the sake of selling a kit. I also don't want to offer 100 different kits on my site and overwhelm people with too much selection. Our release schedule is going to be consistent and slower than a lot of sound design websites until I can attain the quality I'm looking for and expect.
As for the selection process, I've been a hip hop/beat head nearly my whole life and have an amazing ear for dope beats and drums. Most beatmakers and producers do. We can all identify whats dope and why its dope. So I seek out producers and sound designers that I am a fan of and that have a solid industry reputation. Again, not everyone is interested in selling their own kit or drums they worked hard to create.
It is obvious that you care about good production. What separates good production from great production?
First and foremost, talent. Not everyone can be a dope beatmaker or producer. The Internet has opened the flood gate and allowed everyone to showcase their skills or lack of skills. Some people have the ear and talent to create dope music and beats, some don't. Beyond talent, I think quality and unique sound, sample selection and engineering skills makes great production.
I'm not the best engineer myself, so when I release something I have it professionally mixed and mastered with a fresh set of ears. Part of being a talented producer and having good production is knowing when to delegate production tasks to other people. There is the jack of all trades mentality infecting everyone these days. You are the producer, beatmaker, videographer, designer, etc. But Jacks of all trades tend to be masters of none.
I think great production requires infinite attention to detail, passion, and focus. Notice that the top industry producers and beatmakers are just that. They aren't dabbling in everything else. It's easy to get distracted these days so I believe the true masters with passion for producing are the guys that will shine and be remembered.
Branding is something that you and I value. Explain the importance of enhancing one's brand given the plethora of beatmakers that exist.
I believe that being a talented beatmaker, videographer, skateboarder, swimmer, etc. is only part of the equation. We live in an overly consumerist society that will ignore and pay no attention to the most talented people on the planet if they are not packaged and branded correctly. It's a sad truth, but as soon as you get over the cruelties of the world you can be successful.
Investing (time, money, energy, etc.) in yourself and your brand is an important component of success. Consumers in general know what they want and are immune to traditional marketing and advertising. We seek and search for our products, entertainment, and services more than ever.
Just consider how many times you have deleted an email blast, blocked a popup, changed the channel during a commercial, etc. Branding has been and will continue to be a true and time tested form of marketing. It's now easier and cheaper than ever to brand yourself and create consistency in what ever you do. People (consumers) will view any lack of branding as pure laziness and you will ultimately lose a potential sale, fan, etc.
Getting noticed or building one's resume is one of the hardest things for up and coming beatmakers. What steps could help up and coming beatmakers get noticed?
From personal experience, I'd have to say quit trying to hard to make money off your music initially. There is truth to the age old saying, "do it for the love and the money will follow". Everything music is hyper competitive and there is SO MUCH noise in the industry, its hard to keep your head straight!
The best strategy is to make dope beats, songs, records, etc. and focus on the MUSIC. People tend to get ahead of themselves as far as the order of operations of things. I believe in dumb luck. I think some people are just plain lucky in the industry. Some have amazing talent and others are in the right place at the right time. It seems like creating a niche for yourself and branding yourself should be priority. The money will follow. Rap & Hip Hop is a known source of misinformation and brainwashing people into thinking money is the truth. Music and Art in my opinion is the truth.
What other products does The Drum Sample Broker provide and what are the payment options?
We carry some MPC accessories from our affiliate Big Noise Radio. We also have an awesome selection of custom shaped USB Flash Drives that come in a few different flavors including the TR-808, NS-10M, SP-1200, and MPC. We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.
Does The Drum Sample Broker provide custom services?
We have a team of diggers that does sample finding services & sells Vinyl LP's loaded with dope samples to flip!
How can the masses find the website?
http://www.hiphopdrumsamples.com & http://www.alkotabeats.com
Any final words?
Persistence is key! But knowing when to quit and where to focus your energy is a skill we should all develop.
Of course, shouts to Praverb for the interview!