Kamil Grzych is a former A&R executive and the founder of Nastraq, a unique new website that connects music listeners to indie artists using a dynamic sales model. While the songs are free to download initially, their price increases as they grow in popularity, with the artist receiving 70% of the sale price.
Grzych, who spent the past decade cultivating artists and their work, oversaw the development of the site and each week, he and the rest of the Nastraq team painstakingly curate artists from hundreds of submissions and promote selected songs through the Nastraq marketing channels.
Nastraq is not just another music store, but rather a platform for artists to launch their careers.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
My career started in a dark alley in Poland selling American sneakers to Polish teenagers. I realized at the young age of 14 that I was going to be a serial entrepreneur. I came to the US and immediately fell in love with the music community in LA and hooked up with a lot of talented artists. That was when I founded my own record company, searching for talent, growing the talent, and making them heard.
At what age did you come to the United States, and how did you go about founding a record company?
I moved to the US when I was 16. That was probably one of the biggest life decisions I had to make, and it turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I was active in social media when social media was just getting started and ended up befriending many musicians. I saw so much raw, powerful, but unrefined talent. One thing led to another and I realized I could help these musicians make production-worthy songs, and that was how my record company was born.
What inspired you to create Nastraq?
Nastraq was an extension of my desire to help the artist community, and to disrupt the current business model. Apple blew up the old record industry with the iTunes model, but now iTunes has become the behemoth of the industry. Still, the distribution of wealth isn’t landing on indie artists the way it should be, since now everyone’s competing with Beyonce. The beauty of Nastraq is the dynamic price model where popular tracks can command prices as high as $2.49 a song. This represents a lot of upside for indie artists. Another unique feature of Nastraq is that artists get paid the instant the user makes that Paypal transaction.
What are the biggest challenges you faced during the development of Nastraq?
I would have to say that the algorithm for dynamic pricing was our biggest challenge. Songs start at free and the more it’s listened to and downloaded, the higher the price climbs. It took about 8 months of testing and fine-tuning to get to a point where I was satisfied with it.
How do you go about finding artists for the site?
We get many demos through my old partnerships at my previous record companies. Additionally, we get submissions through social media, Youtube, concerts, independent showcases. Our acceptance rate is about 30% right now since we want Nastraq to be a destination for high quality music.
When it comes to marketing Nastraq, which methods have you had the most success with?
We haven’t done much marketing of Nastraq yet, but the little that we’ve done has resulted in almost 10,000 followers on Twitter! Bands and musicians tend to congregate in certain social media sites so we target those. The songs on Nastraq are also search engine optimized, which means that the way it’s presented on the website is optimized to get the best search results.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your life?
“Work hard, have fun and shut up”
In your opinion, what’s the best album of all time?
There are a lot of great albums out there but when it comes to that one album I have to say Thriller by Michael Jackson. Quincy Jones was the producer on that album and being a big fan of production, he did an amazing job. During college, one of our speakers was the engineer from that album and hearing all these cool stories on how certain songs came about made this album even better.
What’s the most enjoyable car you’ve ever owned or driven?
I’m a huge car geek. During my break between semesters in high school, I would work for an exotic car dealership in Chicago. I got to drive pretty much everything that was available. I think my first car was the coolest one, a 1994 Saab 900 with a stick shift and I drove it like a madman until I burned the clutch. But the most enjoyable car that I’ve driven would be the Ferrari 458. The sound that car makes is amazing.
If you could snap your fingers and be instantly transported anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would have to go with Fiji. Really anywhere that I can unplug.
What are your short- and long-term goals with Nastraq?
Short-term, we need to continue to curate quality artists. We also need to get our beta website production-ready. Once we’ve built a rich library of great quality tracks, we’ll be ready to push it out to consumers in a big way.