Global Sound –
Starfleet Digital Music Pool: Why Record Pools Still Matter
This year music industry veteran Ronnie Matthews and the Starfleet Music Pool are celebrating 22 years in the music business. Most people under the age of 30, have no idea what a record pool is or the importance they played in breaking new music while playing the liaison between DJs and record labels.
Starfleet is one of the few record pools that is still standing from the “golden area,” and it continues to thrive because of its willingness to embrace change. With over 19,000 registered DJs in it’s database, Starfleet is consistently recognized as a global leader in music promotions. Early last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ronnie about the history of Starfleet and why record pools are still important.
How was Starfleet started?
Being in the music business as a dj and as a promoter for so many years is where it kind of all started for me. I was always working with record pools, and I knew exactly how they broke records and exposed people to new music. During the early part of my career, I was a buyer for Camelot Music and the store in the Charlotte region was the largest around. So, that relationship exposed me to just about every indie and major label you can name. Because of my background, I had record labels to actually come to me and ask if I would start a record pool in this region. And, as of today Starfleet Music Pool has been servicing DJs for the last 22 years.
With most of the old school record pools no longer operating, how has Starfleet maintained its relevancy?
Basically, a lot of the older record pools that were around as long as me weren’t able to make the digital turn. As of January,we have been working digital music for over twelve years. I remember we were at the Winter Music Conference in Miami right around the time that digital music was beginning to take over, and we had a long debate about what the future was for the industry. We have always supported the industry, and we knew that change was inevitable so it made sense for us to embrace the change. Labels were talking about no longer pressing cds, shipping vinyl, and how inexpensive it would be to service a record.
We weren’t necessarily ready to give up physical copies of music, but we saw the change coming. We would have loved to keep getting 12 inches and boxes of cd’s but it’s evolution. So instead of fighting it we supported. I remember speaking on a panel with label heads, record buyers and other record pool owners during that conference; and I had a pool director tell me I was helping the demise of hard copies being shipped to the record pools. I basically told everybody that I’m not the one making things happen. I would love to continue getting vinyl and cd’s but sometimes you have to go with the flow of things. As I was finishing my spill, one of the heads of the major record labels basically told the guy if you don’t think this is the direction that music is going in your not gonna be in business very long.
Tell me how Starfleet’s digital service works?
You can submit your music into us for a free, and we will actually set it up at no cost. The first group of 135 DJs,which are called the Vip DJs, are Billboard Reporters, Mix show DJs and big club DJs will give you limited feedback on your single. If they like it, they will actually play it and we will chart it. We also offer a service called the VIP featured artist, which sets up an artist profile with a bio, concert info, a comment system, links to purchase music and contact information. This is important because It has all of our DJs have to login to our system to download mp3′s and when the DJs sees the visual it creates that extra reinforcement that reminds them about the artists music.
Why are record pools still important in 2012?
The connections that we already have is an extremely important thing for a new artist looking to build relationships with DJs. We have over 19,000 registered DJs around the globe in our pool. We provide a reputable place that record labels and artists have been working with for years. In addition, you have new DJs that are searching for places to find new music and record labels are always searching for ways to get their music noticed. And, the one thing you still have to do to get your music noticed is you must have somebody somewhere playing it. You have to have exposure or no one will ever know about you.
What advice would you give a new artist looking to promote their first single?
One thing I think I would say is that you better have a thick skin about things. We wish that every song was a hit and sounded great, but it’s just not the case. Everybody is chasing the same sound with auto-tune, and its good to have a familiar sound that people can relate to, but you still want to be unique while implementing your own style.
Kelland L. Drumgoole