Interview – Bandplanet CEO Hansjörg Hug

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Bandplanet doesn’t just run on terrific music from all over the world – behind the scenes at Bandplanet HQ a small but dedicated team are beavering away to make the whole Bandplanet experience happen for you. Bandplanet CEO Hansjörg Hug sat down to answer a few questions about Bandplanet, his passion for music, and even divulged his most embarrassing teenage musical obsession…

Why do you think Bandplanet is the best thing since sliced bread?

Because it solves the one huge problem of most bands and music artists in the world – getting their music out there and making money from it, while building their reputation and fan base. Bands get the chance to fairly earn money from their music without the need for intermediates. Based on this premise, Bandplanet is the first online music platform adhering to fair trade principles. We offer a 100% return on sales to music artists, and a commission-based promotion program for our paying members. Users can choose to become Premium Club Members and earn money by participating in our bonus program for promoting the service, or simply use the platform for free and enjoy streaming music from all over the world. All new users can enjoy a 30-day free trial of the Bandplanet Premium Club.

The music industry is changing rapidly, and most record labels don’t have a lot of money to support new and upcoming bands. The industry really needs a new solution, and we think that Bandplanet is that solution.

So Bandplanet is a really good way for bands to get their music out there and known?

Yes. It’s also a great way for bands to get to know and interact directly with fans. With Facebook you can interact with your fans, of course, but you never know if one of those fans is going to buy one of your songs. On Bandplanet you will receive an email when one of your fans buys a song. That gives you the opportunity to write back and say ‘Hey, thanks a lot’, and thereby build up a strong rapport with your fans and supporters. Not only that, but bands get to keep all the money that they make from song sales.

What is your personal musical history?

I did what everyone did – I went to music school and learnt an instrument, the harmonica. My father forced me to do it, and it wasn’t a lot of fun, actually. But today I regret not learning the instrument properly. It’s good to master an instrument. Then when I was a teenager I had a music teacher who introduced us to more modern music, and motivated us to form a band. So some friends and I started a band and built our own rehearsal room, with walls covered with egg cartons and awful posters. I played drums. We were just youngsters, but we had a lot of fun together and that’s where my passion for music really started. I played in that band for about ten years, and we are all still friends. So I’ve always had a connection with music. I also trained as an audio-visual engineer because I wanted to do something on the technical side of music. I was mixing bands by the time I was 18.

How have you seen the music industry changing over the years?

The first major change I perceived was when Apple introduced the iPod and iTunes. The other major change was the advent of peer-to-peer sites like Napster and Pirate Bay, where people could download and/or share music for free. The music industry was very slow to react to these two movements – selling music legally, or obtaining music illegally – and by the time it became apparent that major and permanent changes had occurred it was too late for the industry to move quickly and protect itself.

I think the music industry will face even more changes in the next five years, because I’m certain that there will be new services coming out to take advantage of the current state of the market, as well as new technologies – new services are popping up everywhere, like mushrooms. Up until now Apple and iTunes have been in a quite unique position of market dominance, but I think they will face some serious challenges to their position in the next few years.

What do you perceive to be the biggest challenge facing the music industry today?

I think the biggest challenge now is being able to efficiently and effectively funnel the money to where it is needed – that is, supporting and developing new music. Some parts of the music industry are like dinosaurs, very slow to move and protect themselves, and they aren’t really adaptable to new situations. The other major challenge is for young bands to find a way to promote themselves without having to play on some inane TV show to get noticed. I think that audiences are tired of listening to over-managed, over-manufactured music – they want to know there is real passion and authenticity behind what they listen to.

What was your most embarrassing teenage musical obsession?

(Laughs). It was actually a band that is on the road again right now – Roxette. I was even the founder of a Roxette fan club. And I kept it going for a shamefully long time. But don’t tell anyone.

What’s on your current playlist?

That’s a good question. At the moment I’m really open to everything. Because of this job I’ve been listening to whole genres I’ve never listened to before. I’ve never really listened to electronic music but on Bandplanet we have some great DJs, so I’ve really been enjoying electronic music. But my favorite thing is grunge. With the grunge revival that’s been happening recently it’s been great.

Favorite Bandplanet band at the moment?

A grunge band called Agents from Chile. There is some great grunge music coming out of Chile at the moment. It must be something in the water.

Can you explain why you were seen recently wearing a Mexican costume, complete with a sousaphone wrapped around you, in public?

You saw that? Well, in Switzerland we have a cultural tradition during wintertime called Fasnacht, or Carnival. I play in a band that plays during this time. It’s great because for six or seven weeks a year we’re on tour, playing four or five places every weekend. It’s great fun. There are 40 people in the band, so it’s a big sound.

Our band is called the Bänggner Sumpfhüener, which for the uninitiated refers to a kind of swamp grouse (laughs). But it might also have something to do with how we celebrate after our gigs – I’ll let that get lost in translation. As for costumes, we create new costumes every couple of years. We make them ourselves – designing, cutting and sewing them. This year our theme is Jassen, a popular Swiss card game.

What’s the best thing about working at Bandplanet?

The most interesting thing is actually the idea of Bandplanet itself, in combination with the current market circumstances. I enjoy the challenge of using my previous experiences to bring the ideas behind Bandplanet to fruition. The people who make up Bandplanet are also pretty awesome. I’m always meeting new and interesting people. And of course, I get to hear a huge amount of great music.

When I explain what I do to people I can truthfully say ‘Well, this is my passion’. And I get to do it for a living – that’s a very fortunate position to be in.

Future plans for Bandplanet in 2012?

There are many things in the pipeline – we are still a very young platform and we have to prove ourselves. So the first two quarters will be dedicated to bringing our product up to full speed. And then we have a whole marketing plan full of activities for the rest of the year, in Switzerland as well as abroad. We will be on the road quite a bit. It’s very exciting. So stay tuned for more details!

5 thoughts on “Interview – Bandplanet CEO Hansjörg Hug

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