#HuntedHunters #3: Adam Marx sails on good relationships.
18 March, 2019

#HuntedHunters #3: Adam Marx sails on good relationships.

This is part three of #HuntedHunters, a series of interviews with top members of the Product Hunt community. If you don’t know anything about it, read what got us here.

We’ve often heard that the strength of an idea also depends on how you pitch it. You may have some really interesting thoughts, but until you articulate them well they may not yield the handsome results they deserve. Of course, when it comes to expressing stuff we can’t really say it’s some innate skill, or everybody is confident in doing so.

It’s strange (and wonderful) the vast varieties of people that exist. There are extroverts who are not very hesitant in making new friends and will happily shout their ideas from a pulpit. But then there are also the shy ones, for whom even asking a simple question about what time the next bus is is like climbing Mount Everest. Maybe harder.

In the professional sphere it’s not so rare to be misunderstood, but do you know what can make things a lot simpler? Learning how to build relationships. “It’s one of the most critical tool to grow” says our next geek Adam Marx for the #HuntedHunters Series.

Adam is a music-tech advisor, journalist, and entrepreneur. He’s been interested in music-tech projects since his early college days and is keen on continuing to explore the many notes of music tech as he learns from his experiences.

Being a musician myself it was an interesting chat to get Adam talk about the amount of potential talent that still needs to be tapped. Here’s how the conversation went.

Omni Calculator: You've worked on an interesting project in the past, Glipple was a really nice concept. Are you planning to do something similar in future? Tell us a little about your plans.

Adam Marx: Yes, I am working on new projects as we speak. I learned a lot from my experience with Glipple, both as means of getting to know the startup tech community, and as a better way of understanding the gaps that exist in the dialogue between music and tech. I'm currently developing a new music project, which I've been working on as a side-project for about a year. I'm deliberately taking it slowly as a strategy of collecting the right kind of data that will really help me understand my target market. One thing that people really should understand is that music and tech work according to different time schedules; by that I mean that while in tech it's good to build an MVP and get it out the door as soon as possible, people need to realize that building for artists is different than building for the early adopter tech community. This is a critical reality that I think a lot of music products miss, which is why they sometimes have a very hard time finding product-market fit. I'm not going to reveal too much yet as I'm still working on the initial prototype, but I will say that the product I'm developing is geared towards music professionals in a B2B context. Therefore, I'm not focused on any of the following areas (initially): streaming, distribution, royalties, labels, management, or promotion.

OC: What motivates you to take out time for hunting and even building so many new projects on Product Hunt (PH)? How do you hunt them?  

AM: So even though I've become a little less active on PH lately (simply because time is precious), I still try and pop by at least a few times a week to check on new products. I used to comment a lot when I was really trying to get to know the community, and I still think it's so important to engage. My philosophy has been that if I'm going to comment, I'm going to try and make the comment solid feedback for the reader in some way. So I may ask very hard questions about a music product for example, but it's always from a place of wanting to help the maker think deeper about potential obstacles they may need to address. I think ultimately what motivated me to get on PH early and still motivates me is to know the people in the community. I live by a mantra that "life is relationships" and I really just genuinely enjoy getting to know these other talented people and hopefully working on projects with them some day. (Ironically I'm not a big hunter myself since it takes a lot of time which I would never want to do halfway, but I'm friends with a lot of the other top hunters/moderators, and they simply do it because they love the community and helping others create things!).

OC: Not everyone can work 24/7, what do you relish doing on days you're not a tech expert? Do your hobbies affect the kind of products you hunt?

AM: I really love building relationships with people. I suppose that falls into work I do as a consultant, but it really comes from an enjoyment of meeting new people and working on new projects. When I'm not doing that, though, I spend a lot of time digging into new music and new art. Clearly the music hobby (going to shows, talking to artists, writing music journalism) helps further my reach in the music world for when I return to my desk and continue working on music-tech projects. Additionally, writing for fun helps keep my skills sharp, so I'm better able to help others level up their written content skills. These hobbies do affect my activity on Product Hunt, as many of the products I tend to comment on are either community-focused or music-related. My comments on music-related products may seem grumpy sometimes, but I just want to ask the hard questions to help founders build even better products. I truly believe that we build better things when we learn how to answer the hard questions as much as the easy questions, so it's always from a place of support.

OC: What does the future of tech look like to you? What are we looking at 5 years from now?  

AM: Wow, the future of tech -- no pressure haha. I can't speak for other areas, but there are a few massive trends in tech that will shift the entire paradigm I believe. These are as follows:

I. More and more women and underrepresented founders in tech. These means non-white and LGBT, but also people without coding skills and those of us who don't live in SF or NYC. This broader inclusion and diversity is going to help tech become more egalitarian and will help us build better products and services. There is no "if" in this scenario; it's going to happen (it already is), so we either choose to be allies in this, or we risk being on the wrong side of history. This is a perfect example of a place that new founders can lead by example.

II. More and more focus on humanities skills. So often, tech sometimes makes fun of humanities educations, but certain humanities skills are critical to building great tech companies. Leveling of written content skills, and learning how to build relationships in a non-transactional way are going to severely affect how people are able to generate connections and raise money. I don't think it will be as simple (or necessary) as going to an accelerator anymore; accelerators are great paths, but they're not the only way to build a great reputation and network. Ultimately, I think there will be a shift towards recognizing and prioritizing humanities "soft skills" -- there already is, if you read through a lot of VC tweets about which email pitches they ignore and how not to try and approach them for money.

III. We're going to see even more democratization of content and knowledge. I always say that software may be eating the world, but democratization is eating the universe. We're already seeing it with creative content like video and music. The walled-garden approach has a lot of cracks in its structure, and if you look at a lot of current walled garden companies, you can start to see a lot of the challenges that they're running into. I think we're not going to see "growth at any cost" anymore, but rather that people want to back companies with a clear vision and mission. Sometimes that can get lost in the super fast growth, but companies end up having raised tons of money for a service that not enough people may actually want to pay for.

IV. Regarding music-tech: I've been saying this for over a year now, but we're going to see a massive break away from B2C and movement towards B2B. The next massive trend in music will be B2B. The irony is that because of this direction, speaking only to tech people in the tech world will not be sufficient to build a great music-tech B2B company. Instead, founders will *need* to start branching out and speaking to people in the music world (not only record execs by the way) and building reputations in the music world simultaneously as they do in the tech world. This is one of the major gaps I see lately (as I mentioned in my previous answer). As music becomes more B2B, we're going to see a tectonic shift in the music "classes" and a the emergence of a massive music "middle class" of creators and professionals who up until now have basically been ignored. This is ultimately the huge demographic that my new company will address.

OC: You've mentioned how you like to spend a lot of time exploring new music and art. Also, that you love building relationships. How crucial do you think building relationships is in 2019, especially for artists and especially in the field of music? In this highly digital age, it's not so difficult to be great if you bring great stuff to people. You could call it the age of Indie Projects. How do you think young musicians can do better (growing in the industry) with their gut feeling, talent, and intuitive thinking. What is your pro tip?

AM: Relationships are *critical* and have been what I have relied on when building my first music company and what I'm relying on to build my second. I think there needs to be more focus on the relationship-building aspect in tech with regard to music companies; that is an area I think that tech and startups could certainly improve in. I talk a lot about this in the podcast episode I just did with Tyler Wagner on The Business Blast Podcast.

I think a lot of artists have a really innovative sense of business that they are sometimes not credited with; some of the most interesting markers and social media experts I know are musical artists. They have a read on the industry that a lot of people should recognize and credit them with. My pro-tip for getting into the music-tech world is that you need to get away from the computer and code for a while -- you need to spend *a lot* of time talking to artists and not just record execs.

OC: I can easily see your outlook comes from a very unique set of skills, I would love to know if Omni Calculator is something you think can do well on PH? Do you have any suggestions for us?  

AM: I actually really like the idea of Omni Calculator -- math and conversions have always been tough subjects for me, and it seems that this is something I certainly would have used in grade school and high school. My suggestion would be to certainly make it affordable for students -- that could be a great demographic to start with.

- Well it’s a good thing then that Omni Calculator is free for all and always will be. It was great to speak with Adam about music, relationships and Product Hunt. His pro-tip about opening up might sound simple, but it definitely isn’t easy. You can start small, perhaps an informal chat over pizza. Or a good song. Let the ideas flow.