Music lovers turned founders hope EarMashin can help independent artists

One in a series of stories introducing the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 cohort – check back all week for more and find the series here.

Members of the EarMashin team chat on the first day of the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 class.

It was at a packed house show – an intimate crowd of 50 or so, gathered in a friend’s downtown L.A. loft – that EarMashin’s co-founders knew they were on to something.

They had organized the party and booked Intuition, a popular rapper in L.A., to verify that the problem they felt was real: that music fans wanted to connect with emerging artists as much as artists wanted to find new fans. They saw that local music fans were supportive, and would pay for tickets to support their favorite artists.

“We were trying to figure out the pain, what’s the artist’s problem,” said Mo Abdallah. “We finalized the idea itself.”

As music lovers themselves, Abdallah and co-founder Ash Naguib would spend hours scouring blogs for new releases and downloading mixtapes to their phones. After discussing the idea in 2012, and working on it seriously for the last year, their solution has taken the form of a mobile app called EarMashin.

EarMashin features streaming music by independent and emerging artists. Users can follow their friends or curated feeds by music influencers, as well as find events where their favorite artists are playing.

After a few months on the App Store, EarMashin joined the Iowa Startup Accelerator with plans to improve their product based on customer feedback.

One of their major constraints right now is adding music to the app. The co-founders said they’ve collected close to 30,000 songs, through free promotional music artists release to websites, music artists have sent to them directly and music they’ve collected through outreach – but only about 3,000 of these tracks are live on the app.

Eventually, the co-founders want to be able to use analytics from their app to help artists even more. Say, if a band from Iowa had a large pocket of listeners in California, EarMashin would help them set up a show there. EarMashin would be a sponsor of that concert and collect part of the ticket revenue.

This is in contrast to the agreements record labels make with artists, which might require them to play a certain number of shows no matter what.

“It doesn’t really work in the artist’s favor,” Naguib said of the current model. “We’re trying to make it more where the independent artists can kind of flourish, in their own way, without having to be connected with someone.”

While moving from LA to Iowa to do an entertainment startup might seem counterintuitive, the co-founders said they have been making good connections so far with the local music community.

“Music is global, it doesn’t matter where the location is,” Naguib said.

One in a series of stories introducing the Iowa Startup Accelerator’s 2015 cohort – find the rest here.