Iceland Music Export put one of Einar's project in the Spotlight: Grapewire.
Eat the Grapewire Menu!
Grapewire - Delivering Like Pros
Where did the concept or inspiration for Grapewire come from?
The idea was simply to enable rights owners to digitise their work. Be it artist or label, at the time these services were badly needed.
When did you set it up and what was the original 'game plan'?
We started at the beginning of the year 2006 and the original gameplan was to provide services that could be utilized by the international digital market.
How has it changed or evolved since you started?
Early on we realized that providing tools to present and digitally distribute music was just one part of what artists needed. We now have tools to sell everything, not only digital downloads. In the more than 25 projects we power, artist and associated stakeholders sell wooly sweaters, hum boxes, Buddha beads, vinyl, t-shirts and other merchandize. We consider ourselves a one-stop shop for artists looking to establish and maintain a direct-to-fan relationship. A robust and flexible back end is also important to solve the complexity of multiple fulfillment partners. We now also offer aggregation to over 25 e-tailers like iTunes, Nokia comes with Music, eMusic, 7digital and others. Our clients draw on our vast experience and benefit from the company’s network to increase their comfort level when taking the next steps in their digital career. We function in a sense as their digital Sherpa.
How do you describe the service to folk in a sentence or two?
Grapewire provides the tools to power the marketing, promotion, presentation and distribution of art to an artist’s own website, other digital retail outlets and recently through popular social websites like Facebook.
What are the company's main strengths in today’s music market?
A clear vision of where things are heading and an understanding of how today’s creative processes are best complimented with technology, common sense and a bit of punk ideology. Our strong focus on market analysis and belief in applying data to catch trends and help with career changing decisions.
What are the benefits to artists who sign up with you?
Artists who decide to use Grapewire to power their sales efforts will have fun, monetize their creation and get to share our vision.
What do you see as the biggest problems facing the music business today?
The biggest problems by far are all those generalizations being made about the problems of the music industry. This is a large industry built on a conveyer belt designed to move valuable physical products that have been the de-facto transport medium of music. The challenges are on all levels of the value chain with everybody asking the same question: “What value do I provide to the relationship between an artist and a fan?” While some only have to make minor adjustments to their business models, those struggling to come up with answers have to realize that they have come to an end of an era. Their role is redundant, is being taken over by technology or by people with a better understanding of how artists like to express themselves and how people prefer to consume music.
Do you think Iceland in general is a good place to try out these kinds of business "experiments" or innovative models?
Iceland has been used as a test market for diapers, washing detergent and shampoo by companies like Johnson&Johnson, Unilever and Kraft Foods. The small market is ideal to make mistakes and learn. Compared to other markets the cost of a national advertising campaign is almost nothing and with a high computer literacy rate and effective communications the results of an experiment roll in fast. I know for a fact that some major labels used the advantages of the Icelandic market in the early nineties to help select singles from albums. The responsive Icelandic market gave clear results in a couple of weeks which were used as decision support.
Today, however, the territorial borders are blurred and at least for Grapewire the world is one market when it comes to the arts so an artist connects the same way to a fan in Iceland as he or she would in China or the Czech Republic. Given the fact that most of our projects are for artists catering to a global audience it is our global experience which help the most - except if they want to start selling their own diapers, washing detergent and shampoo. Then we will possibly conduct a small local trial first. Funnily enough we will soon add branded combs and hair styling gel to the lineup in the Gusgus supermarket we power.
You're not limited to Iceland though, right?
Grapewire is a global affair, music is made and enjoyed all over the world.
What plans do you have for Grapewire in the near and far future?
We constantly add to the toolset available to our clients to increase the ways they can communicate with their fan base, offer more flexible products and get a better understanding of the market. I’m sure world domination is on the horizon.
Who else is involved in the company and what do you all do?
We are a bunch of seasoned professionals with competence in all necessary areas and also rely on a global network of partners and consultants to be able to provide a tailor-made solution on a project-by-project basis. We feel this is the most effective approach given that the new business model is that there is no model and there are no bad ideas or wrong ways of doing things. With all the available options it is necessary to be able to apply the skills of a large, diverse group of people to each project to make sure there is no stone left unturned in the quest for the ideal approach to realizing one’s artistic vision with optimal revenue and minimal cost.
What's your proudest Grapewire moment to date?
All our moments are memorable.
While we're here we have to ask what you're up to musically!