Scott Vener & Ben Johnston

Co-founders of Undrtone

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 18, 2016

Discussion

scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
Hey, I’m Scott – I co-founded social music discovery platform Undrtone with Ben Johnston. I’m also the music supervisor for Ballers, Entourage, HTMIIA and Dope. We made Undrtone because there was no way to find good music consistently. Feel free to ask us anything :) 👋And I’m Ben! CEO of digital ventures practice Josephmark – the team who designed and built Undrtone. As Vener said, ask us absolutely anything…
Shyam Mervana@smervana · Designer
Would you say that there's a genre of music that the majority of the Undrtone user population tends to favor? If so, have you all tried to specifically push this genre or any related/subgenres into your discovery tool to retain users? Also, what genre(s) have you been listening to the most lately?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@smervana this is a really good question. I think you are onto something here. I really think hype machine (which i love) has become a genre. the most popular music all seems to be very similar (not in a bad way). i think its still early to predict where we will end up. But, I have noticed the most popular music so far seems to be "new" "just breaking" "under the radar" with the power users trying to one up each other with "i found it first" which is really cool. its also part of the DNA of the music i choose for TV shows. So one could conclude that the intial users are people who found me bc of that. but my dream is something for everyone. you just find your pocket of friends set up hashtags and make playlists for each other.
Shyam Mervana@smervana · Designer
@brokemogul Thanks for the response man, I appreciate it. I was actually thinking of hypem specifically when I asked this question. I've been using that site for nearly 7 years and have noticed that there are definitely trends in the site's popular charts, to the point where certain emerging artists can use them to put out quick EPs and get their 15 minutes of music blog fame. I can definitely see why new/under the radar music is popular on Undrtone, mainly because (from what I've seen) the community on Undrtone seems to have more of a genuine interest in music/discovery than people on other platforms do. What I don't really like about this though is that some people tend to be selfish with the cool "underground" stuff that they find and aren't always quick to share good music. Do you think Undrtone is going to be the platform that will stop this? I feel like you have a lot of influence on music trends since you have such a large audience viewing your movies/tv shows. Do you choose to feature music that you would like to see become popular or stuff that most people would like but probably don't know of?
Silence Nogood@silencenogood · Founder
@brokemogul that's what hypem was like for bloggers a few years back (competing to be the first blog on the track), but it changed (for good reason). Keep that as the driver for Undrtone!!
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@smervana i try my best to use music on my shows that i know the world would love if they knew it was out there. that is also my goal with undrtone. there is so much music in the world right now that i know people would love if they knew it was there. people dont have the time they once did to discover music. thats why music on the radio become popular bc most people get to hear it while they are driving or in their house. if you only have 30 mins to listen to music. are you going to use it to listen or dig? most people dont get to dig anymore. I want to create a place where the digging is done for you. i know we arent the first people to come up with this idea. But, I really want to curate the curators and create an opportunity for everyone to win. the drug for me personally is playing you a song you never heard before and watching you enjoy for the first time. old or new.
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@brokemogul What's the end goal for Undrtone?
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@iamcuan We set out creating Undrtone from a personal desire to build a forum for likeminded individuals who are passionate about sharing and discovering good music. The thinking is that the conversation and excitement around discovering new music is lost because we are exposed to so much, all of the time. This resonated with people and Undrtone has grown organically. At this stage the goal is to continue to grow and build on the conversation.
Lucas Mandelbaum@lmandel9 · Founder, TuneTracker Enterprises
how did you guys meet?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@lmandel9 we met while working at Myspace
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@lmandel9 We meet at Myspace - Josephmark was working with them to help launch the latest iteration of the site and Scott had been asked by JT to come and help advise.
Trilligan@e_topshelf
Trilligan here! My question is, with all the independent music discoveries and taste makers on the app, have you guys considered making a festival/record label? If so do i get first dibs lol?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@e_topshelf we have definitely thought about it. in time
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
There are so many music discovery platforms. What is Undrtone's differentiating feature?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@andrewmettinger we actually get paid for having good taste in music :)
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@andrewmettinger Undrtone is social. We’ve found the most consistent way to come across tunes we love is recommendations from friends and tastemakers. It's that human element that no machine or algorithm can compete with. With Undrtone, you choose to follow people whose music taste you trust, and 90% of the time you’ll love what they post. It all comes down to you and who you choose to follow.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@brokemogul Paid by who? Users don't get paid, right? To rephrase: why would an average joe use Undrtone rather than other music discovery sites like Hypem, Soundcloud, even Spotify.
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@andrewmettinger The idea is to co-exist, not compete. We love music discovery and set about creating a place for other people who also feel that way.
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@andrewmettinger i was talking about myself. meaning I get paid. Im posting music. I think i misunderstood your question. I love hypemachine, soundcloud and spotify.
Ryan Barocas@rbarocas
@brokemogul How do you balance your full-time career while also working at Undrtone?
Grant Mombach@gsmombach
@brokemogul What are your top 5 rap albums ever?
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@brokemogul How do you schedule and organize your day to ensure maximum productivity?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@iamcuan i really dont sleep much. i think i get my best work done between the hours of 11pm-4am.
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@brokemogul I think I read somewhere that "Going to California" in the Entourage series finale is your personal favorite selection. What are your favorite selections from Ballers, How to Make It, and Dope?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@designtheworld_ What was your favorite part of working with Scott?
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@bentossell ... Scott has a very interesting circle of friends, and never leaves his house. You're not sure who is going to 'drop by' in the middle of a meeting.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@designtheworld_ @bentossell any fun stories you can share? :)
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@ems_hodge @bentossell Lets just say that I think half of the entourage script is based off Scotts day to day life..
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
@designtheworld_ What was the biggest challenge you faced in building Undrtone?
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@katesegrin like any product the challenge is in keeping the user experience focused while you have a million ideas/suggesitons of what features you can add.
Kate@katesegrin · Head of Social @ GitHub
@brokemogul which artist that you've worked with has most impressed you?
Duane McFly@kylixdesigns · Creative Director, The Maroon Cafe
@brokemogul Before Undrtone what were some of the ways you found good and quality music?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@kylixdesigns diving into music blogs and reverse engineering songs that become popular by unknown artists. example, song comes out of no where and blows up. go online and trace which sites, blogs, kids on tumblr posted it first. start investigating if they had good taste on other posts. then follow them without them knowing. ive created about 20 kids who are my A&R staff and they dont know it :) but their passion is pure.
Duane McFly@kylixdesigns · Creative Director, The Maroon Cafe
@brokemogul Do record labels or artists ask you to put their song in a show/movie?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@kylixdesigns yes, we all work in concert together. keep each other informed on whats coming out before its released.
Duane McFly@kylixdesigns · Creative Director, The Maroon Cafe
@designtheworld_ Do you guys plan on releasing Undrtone for Android users?
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@kylixdesigns ... yes :)
Duane McFly@kylixdesigns · Creative Director, The Maroon Cafe
@designtheworld_ Can you give us a time frame? 2016...2017?
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@kylixdesigns Growing and refining iOS is our focus at the moment, but Android is slated for this year.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Tell us about your love of poker and how it came about :) What's the biggest misconception people have about poker?
scott vener@brokemogul · Undrtone, CEO-Founder
@eriktorenberg for me poker is about telling a story and trying to figure if the story someone is telling is the truth. Then you have to be able to convince them you know their story isnt as good as yours ha. one of the misconceptions of poker is people think its all luck. its not, its very much a game of skill and there is data to back it up.
Silence Nogood@silencenogood · Founder
@brokemogul how are you differentiating Undrtone from other music aggregators? (other than) Great design.
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@silencenogood It's about the community... you can replicate of have competing features, but if the service (as with undrtone) is based on people then the individuals and their respective tastes are why you come. Long of the short of it is we've got some group of people in the community that have such a deep passion for music.
Kind Andrew@imkindandrew
Have you thought about incorporating an "edit" button to post's or comments? Sometimes I forget to add a hashtag and rather than adding a comment would be nice to add to original.
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@imkindandrew Good suggestion.
Kind Andrew@imkindandrew
@designtheworld_ @imkindandrew thanks, minor feature but helpful
Kind Andrew@imkindandrew
Curious as to how the top tracks, people, tags determined? How often do they update?
Ben Johnston@designtheworld_
@imkindandrew They're updated every fifteen minutes. Depending on the trajectory of trending interaction (song plays / comments etc).