Talking to iPluggers Founder Marvin Kuijs

Photo Marvin Kuijs at iPluggersAs one of our popular Marketplace apps, iPluggers provides a reliable and cost-effective platform for worldwide digital radio promotion. And as we know, radio promotion can accomplish great things for a budding artist. To highlight the benefits of his app, we sat down (virtually) with Founder and A&R Head, Marvin Kuijs, to pick his brain. Check out the interview below, and, if you’re an Orchard client, venture into the Marketplace and try it on for size! 

Hi Marvin, thanks for doing this interview with us. iPluggers has been available in The Orchard Marketplace for quite some time now. When did you actually start iPluggers and how did you get the idea to offer musicians radio promotion via a digital system?

Thanks for having me, I’m glad to shed more light on the inner working of iPluggers.

For musicians, the most important way to get heard and get more fans is airplay. But traditional radio promotion is a major investment that is not affordable for every musician or label and certainly independent musicians cannot afford traditional plugging in these times.

The idea was born when I realized that we as an industry distribute releases digitally to shops, but we still rely on traditional radio promotion to get new fans that will buy the music online. It all just seemed counter-intuitive. Why not harness the power of technology to eliminate countries’ borders and cut costs?

We started development of iPluggers back in 2010 and launched in 2011. iPluggers makes it easier and affordable for artists to get airplay and increase their fan base. Labels, artists and bands no longer solely depend on major investments in traditional plugging to get their music on air. Not only that, iPluggers promotes music worldwide in every genre. With over 30.000 stations in our network, it makes it possible for us to give out a guarantee on results with each release we promote.

It sounds like you have quite some experience in the music industry. What is your background? Did you work in radio promotion before you started iPluggers?

Yes, I have worked as a traditional radio promotor for more than 6 years. Next to that, I started a publishing company at the age of 18, did freelance A&R work for several record companies for years and scored 3 Top 40 hits as producer/DJ. With this experience I founded iPluggers.

In addition, I occasionally give lectures at universities for Entertainment and Management. It’s great to teach the next generation on topics such as publishing deals, rights management and of course effective radio promotion ;)

What do you enjoy most from your work at iPluggers?

It’s hard to choose what I enjoy most, I enjoy a lot of aspects of being an A&R at iPluggers.

First, we get material from both established and upcoming artists. It’s such a pleasure to get to work and listen to new releases and discover those little gems.

I also find it very satisfying to give new artists advice on how they can improve their music (if needed) and how to brand and present themselves better to radio stations. Although some might say that this isn’t part of the service we offer, we really want the artists we promote to succeed. The packaging does play a role in getting airplay. This is why I also look at how each artist and release presents itself.

The best part of this job is to see those upcoming acts get airplay on stations worldwide via our network. At the end of the day, that is why I founded iPluggers and it’s very satisfying to see.

You said you work for established artists. Can you give us some examples?

We have promoted major artists such as Snoop Dogg, Gigi D’Agostino, Kat Deluna, INNA, Alexandra Stan, Coolio, Haddaway, Ell and Nikki (Eurovision Song Contest 2011 winners), Beenie Man, Shifty Binzer (former front man of Crazy Town), Chenoa, Obie Trice and many more.

That’s certainly impressive. But what about other releases? Do you promote anyone and anything?

We only promote airplay-quality tracks and releases to our network. If we plugged bad recordings or out-of-tune vocals, we wouldn’t be taken as seriously by our network as we are now. Our mission is to provide stations with high-quality releases and get those great tracks out there and heard.

So how does the process of getting airplay via iPluggers work?

For Orchard artists and labels we have made it very easy: you can install and launch the app via The Orchard Marketplace, sync your details and tracks, complete your profile and ask for approval. At that point I will listen to the release, look at the overall branding and get back to you with constructive feedback or an immediate green light. After your release is approved, you can pay for plugging and set your plugging date.

Once the plugging date has passed, you receive real-time insight including which radio station from which country has downloaded your release for airplay.

Every radio promotion campaign takes about 4 weeks in total.

So you don’t promote a release within 24 hours to all stations? Why not? This must be possible with a digital system.

We have made it possible for stations to personalize their account to fit their needs. Not every music director wants to be updated every day on new releases. Each MD, PD, DJ, station manager, etc., can change their notification settings. They only receive new music when they want to, whether it’s immediately, once a week or once every 2 weeks. This tailored plugging process increases the odds of getting airplay.

Ah, that makes sense. Is the whole iPluggers system automated?

A lot of aspects of our system are automated, but we pride ourselves in the personal attention we give our artists, labels and radio stations. Our system is automated because it’s the most efficient way to promote music to radio stations worldwide, but we are very hands-on and involved with every artist we promote.

I myself am involved in the day-to-day operations of iPluggers and we have a team of radio connectors personally checking in with existing stations in our network and making new connections outside our network.

Next to this our support department is on standby 5 days a week, 10 hours a day. We strive to answer every incoming request/mail within 24 hours on business days.

Do you have any advice for starting and/or independent artists?

First and foremost, create your own style of music, be original, stay true to yourself and your skills and do something new. Do not copy the old or try to fit the mold.

And please, get into a good studio and make sure the final version is airplay quality. Have it produced and mastered properly if you do not know how to do this yourself.

Last, make sure to build a worldwide fan base: perform, be active on social media, distribute your music to shops worldwide (enter: The Orchard) and promote your music to radio stations across the globe (enter: iPluggers). The times have changed and your marketing strategy should change with it.

Thank you for giving us such insight in both iPluggers and who you are as a founder, Marvin! It really gives a better idea of what you, your team and the platform are about.

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