Oleksandr Dzyubenko is CEO of Volumo, a new Ukrainian-Estonian online electronic music store. It has a refreshing approach and quite a few tricks up its sleeve to compete with the industry’s long-runners. We sat down for a friendly and informative chat.
1. Hi Oleksandr! Among other readers, this interview will likely be consumed by DJs and sound producers whose music is already on Beatport, Bandcamp, and Juno Download. Please elaborate on why it would benefit them to upload their releases to Volumo.
First of all, it’s not an «either-or» kind of choice. If you already have your music on the sites mentioned above, then adding Volumo to the list is as simple as asking your label or distributor to do it. Before doing that, check if your music is already on Volumo. We may already have your catalog listed.
Then, we come to the question of what advantages one gets when shopping on Volumo. Our offer for a music buyer is simple: you get a great shopping experience (one that delights you, not frustrates if you know what I mean), you get to choose among already-good music that is pre-filtered by our music curators, and last but not least, you support the music authors because they get a fair royalty schedule with us. On Volumo, you can even tip an author with an easy button if you like the music that much.
We strive to be as instrumental as possible in helping artists make a living from their music. That’s especially important if we are talking about niche music that only sells a few copies but is still great for those who can appreciate it.
2. Your project received positive feedback at Amsterdam Dance Event last year. What reviews and opinions have you gathered there?
Yes, indeed, I was pleasantly surprised with the response we got. The initial reaction was like, why does the world need a new music store? And especially one that’s focused on downloads and not streaming. But as people looked deeper into our vision of the limitations of existing music stores and how we plan to innovate, the more they saw a lot of sense in what we are doing.
3. One of the Volumo press reviews mentioned your striving to bring downloads back to the industry forefront. What are the advantages of downloads over streaming?
I’ve had many interesting conversations over that. On the surface, it may seem that the world is moving toward streaming, and downloads are somewhat antiquated. But if we look into downloads as a business model and the specifics of our particular market niche (pro DJs) and the needs of music authors in that niche, you can see how it makes a lot of sense. Streaming is great for music that gets millions and millions of playback streams. But good DJ music can still be great and valuable even if it never gets played on the scale of millions. And we want the authors of that music to be paid some real money for that.
From a technical standpoint, there is nothing that streaming can do that downloads cannot. The main difference is in the licensing model: you must pay a lump sum to get the track. And from that point, you don’t get any downsides, only benefits.
On Volumo, you don’t pay a different price depending on your chosen file format. You simply buy a track, which is added to your Volumo account, and it stays there for as long as you need. And when you want to download it, you pick the format that suits you best at that particular moment. It illustrates our mindset for downloads being a better, more liberating option.
4. Recently, Spotify reported that more than 40% of releases in their catalog get fewer than ten listens. The entry threshold into the music industry has become extremely low. How does Volumo deal with this problem? The EDM scene is highly plagued with amateurish music.
Unless you are immensely popular, a low entry threshold and low streaming revenue are connected phenomena. The new reality might work well for you as a casual music listener, but pro DJs need something else.
Our answer is, first, curation (we remove the music we don’t want you to waste your time on), and second, the revenue model is built around downloads, not streaming.
5. As Volumo CEO, you can access the platform’s data. What curious trends do you observe as an insider? Which releases are the most sought-after? Which genres are trending? Who is the most popular artist on your website?
The data varies wildly because we are in a stage of active growth when our repertoire and user base change quickly month over month. At this very moment, our «genre of the month» is Hard Techno, but next month can be a drastically different one. I bet on Drum and Bass because we’re getting some exciting releases in that genre lately. But the actual data is often more intelligent than the smartest predictions you can get.