Business professionals tinker with their online profiles daily to connect with others in the field and gain access to more career opportunities. By looking on LinkedIn or other professional profile sites, contacts are able to tell if a connection has the experience needed for a particular project or someone whom they should keep in mind for future opportunities.
But music artists and others in the massive entertainment industry don’t have a direct way to network and collaborate in the same way.
“That’s a problem because most of these artists go to industry events and they only collaborate with five percent of the people in the room, since they don’t know who is in the room,” says Criss. “You can be sitting next to the biggest music producer in the world and not even realize who they are, what they can provide for you.”
On the other side of the equation, Criss shares that those same producers have to “sort through thousands of emails and Instagram direct messages without any true background, plus get bombarded at conferences and events,” just to identify artists they want to work with.
Criss and King see their startup, Rap Plug, as the industry’s missing link. The membership-based networking and content platform is focused on the music industry, encompassing artists, DJs, producers, managers, songwriters and even fans.
On average, it takes five to 10 years to catch a break as an artist, according to the team. By providing a networking platform to verified users, Rap Plug wants that timeline to get a lot shorter. “We provide real access to fan data analytics, to individuals in the industry, and a chance for you to not only get discovered, but for you to also discover other individuals and leverage the tools that we provide you to monetize,” explains Criss.
Industry professionals join the network by uploading contact information, audio files, previous jobs, videos and other relevant content. The basic plan, Rap Plug+, provides access to industry experts, trending topics, jobs and search for other professionals near you.
With Rap Plug Pro (similar to LinkedIn Premium), you can get booked for gigs, review your profile’s analytics, gain access to industry events, collaborate directly with others and more.
“We actually help you find people based on the information you provide us. Tell us who you want to collaborate with, and then we look at the data and the analytics that you provide and help streamline that process,” says Criss. “We connect so you can collaborate and monetize.”
In the past year, Rap Plug has grown its membership to nearly 10,000 active users and secured partnerships with more than 50 industry professionals. The team is wrapping up their time at Comcast NBCUniversal’s The Farm Accelerator, where they spent most of their time developing their brand.
The team is already looking ahead to 2019 for product development, with plans to add machine learning to streamline the connection process.
“We want to help you find the right producer, the right engineer, the right song, and the right manager without you having to even use the search engine,” says Criss.