For Roy LaManna, the “barrier to entry” isn’t just an abstract concept, but something he has concrete experience with: When digital camera technology reached professional levels, LaManna took advantage of the lowered barrier to entry and started making music videos for independent artists.
Soon enough, he was called up to the big leagues of Island Def Jam Records, where he produced videos for MTV favorites such as Fall Out Boy and The Killers.
Now, LaManna has parlayed his experience into a new website that allows musicians and record labels to capitalize on another lowered barrier to entry: Distribution via the Internet, something LaManna is tackling with his new, Freehold-based company, Vydia.
“When the barrier to entry lowers, you get a lot of people who don’t know where to begin,” said LaManna, Vydia’s CEO. “That’s the thing we’re trying to solve — to educate our clients on a very concise direction of what moves to make and why they’re the correct decisions.”
Between his experience with the music industry and his first company, Trendsetter Media and Marketing, LaManna and his team have a unique combination of experiences that gives them the understanding to provide this service, he said.
For instance, the company used the Trendsetter infrastructure to build a platform, musicvideosubmissions.com, which operated as a pilot project for what would become Vydia.
And the test went well.
“After a year, we turned $5,000 into $500,000,” he said. “That gave me the market validation to then do Vydia.”
With that validation, LaManna and his co-founder, Mark Allen, who was then an employee of Trendsetter, began pitching investors. Ultimately, his team was able to raise just under $1 million in two stages.
“A third of it was released when we actually built the platform and we got the rest of it once the platform came to market and was operational,” he said.
In the early months of 2014, LaManna and his team rented a house in Los Angeles to build a wire-frame site of what would become Vydia and were ready to launch a private, beta version of the site by May of the same year.
That August, the company was already accumulating $70,000 in monthly revenue. And now, with one year in the books, the company has crested at more than $1 million in revenue.
Now it’s around $160,000 in monthly revenue, LaManna said.
LaManna credits this success to the identification of two different problems for two different camps within the music industry: Young bands trying to promote their music and record labels that have been struggling to monetize content since the proliferation of digital music.
Vydia, LaManna said, addresses both of these issues with a single solution.
“It’s not two different solutions; it’s the same solution that services both (needs),” he said. “Our approach to selling that solution is a little different, but at the end of the day, it’s still the same concept.
“The Internet levels all playing fields and (it) allows you to sell to a consumer and have these direct lines of communication without the need of a company as an intermediary,” he said. “Artists used to have to talk to the media through their publicists, and that doesn’t happen anymore: Kanye (West), for better or for worse, talks to his fans through Twitter.”
But that exposure creates new issues, said LaManna, who describes the situation as a “double-edged sword.”
“The barrier to entry essentially lowers significantly enough that anyone could jump in and do it,” he said. “The challenge there doesn’t become ‘Can you do it?’ The challenge becomes: Do you know how to do it correctly?’”
Recognizing that distinction and new need, LaManna said, is what gives a platform like Vydia its value.
“The problem we solve for our clients isn’t how to get on to the Internet, it’s leading them in the right direction so they make the correct choices,” he said.
Take, for instance, the company’s content partnership with the video website Vevo, which is owned and operated as a joint venture group by Universal Music Group, Google, Sony Music Entertainment and Abu Dhabi Media and receives all of its content through its partners.
Through this partnership, Vydia helps artists forego the complicated licensing process and get their music on the most trafficked music site on the Internet for $20 a month.
And now the company is looking to provide services with publishers including bloggers.
“We have really big plans for connecting artists with publishers; we can look at your video and say, ‘Here are the publishers that make sense for you,’ whether it’s MTV or a small blog,” he said. “Publishers are also seeking artists. Say you’re running a blog about the best hip-hop in the Bay Area. You want to find the bands that make the most sense for you.”
To help facilitate this, Vydia is developing new features to allow publishers to find the content that best fits the content of the website.
“You want to find those bands that make sense for you,” LaManna said. “If you’re a blog, you’ll be able to connect to our technology and we’ll curate content for your website by looking at your analytics.”
E-mail to: [email protected]
On Twitter: @andrewsnjbiz
Executives: Roy LaManna, CEO; Mark Allen, CTO; Christopher Donohue, COO
Revenue: More than $1 million in the first year
One more thing: Raised in Middletown, LaManna is dedicated to the state of New Jersey and an active member of its meet-up scene.