Groundbreaking college creative network Quadio presents ‘Profesh Sesh’ – a series of conversations and Q&As with world-renowned music industry professionals and a rare chance to gather insight about the music industry straight from the source.
This week, Quadio welcomes two industry legends – Wyclef Jean (rapper, musician, and producer) and Madeline Nelson (music industry executive, founder of HEADS Music, and Wyclef Jean’s manager). The ‘Profesh Sesh’ will be hosted by Abir Hossain (VP of Quadio Records) and will be accessible to ticket holders via Zoom tonight at 8PM EST. Tickets are available for $10 now, on Quadio.com!!!
Quadio’s previous ‘Profesh Sesh’ in October starred music industry titan and former EVP of A&R at Interscope Records, Dave Rene (Zedd, Kelsey Ly, Radian Children, Boylife, Lophiile) and founder of independent creative record label NO TRICKS. Also hosted by Abir Hossain, Rene chatted about his experience and perspective on the industry today, and shared some life lessons he picked up from his mentor and legendary music executive and co-founder of Interscope Records, Jimmy Iovine.
Like a lot of companies, Quadio was started by two friends who had a problem they thought no one else was solving. Unlike a lot of companies, those founders were also step-cousins who didn’t actually have a lot else in common. One was a college hockey star who secretly dreamt of making it big as an EDM producer. The other was an Ivy League nerd who started DJing his own radio show at age 14 as an outlet for his obsession with experimental music. Their main overlap was that in summers during college, they shared an apartment in New York as they worked in music industry internships, bonding over Pokemon Go games and gripe sessions about how hard it was for musicians to get discovered, a particular pain point for Joe Welch as a producer, and for Marcus Welch as a music fanatic hungry for a career in A&R.
It was at a family gathering in the summer of 2018 that Joe, who had just graduated from Williams, first surfaced the idea for a digital platform that could help college musicians get more exposure by harnessing the power of community that’s already inherent in campuses. What if, he wondered, there was a streaming service that made it easy for college artists to find each other by school, facilitating collaboration, and also galvanized students to hear the music their very own classmates were making? After all, one of his own songs, “Get the Level,” had only taken off after campus word-of-mouth had lit the viral fire. (It eventually garnered millions of streams.) Joe tried his concept out on Marcus, who, having graduated from Cornell three years earlier, had worked in Twitter’s music partnerships team, with such artists as Lizzo, Erykah Badu, and Pusha T, before joining Activision Blizzard in digital marketing. Immediately intrigued, Marcus urged Joe to think about ways such a platform could be gamified, scaled, and monetized.
Dozens of long phone calls later, the step-cousins put together a business plan, quit their jobs in Boston and California, moved into together in Brooklyn, and hired an engineer, who started coding the app that would become Quadio 1.0, a hybrid social media and music streaming platform for college students. Shortly thereafter, Joe borrowed his sister’s car and, with two friends willing to join the Quadio crusade, started visiting dozens (and eventually hundreds) of college campuses to meet with thousands of artists, showing them the Quadio app in wireframes to get their input, and launching a Campus Rep organization that now boasts hundreds of members. Meanwhile, Marcus stayed in NY, overseeing product design and development, UI/UX, marketing, and fundraising.
By the beginning of 2020, the Quadio app was nearly completed, and in its Beta phase, thanks to the work of the road team and the Campus Rep organization, college artists had uploaded tens of thousands of tracks, igniting the platform’s charts. At the same time, given the very promising early reception of the product from artists, brand partners, and investors, the company’s Chief Growth Officer, Miranda Martell, had put together a million-dollar, multi-faceted launch campaign, based largely on live events in college towns around the country. It was slated to go live on March 16th. Then, well, you know…
In the wake of the pandemic, which, of course, shut down both colleges and live events, Quadio faced what one board member referred to as “an existential crisis that would be funny if it wasn’t so unbelievable.” But that crisis did not, importantly, eliminate the fundamental problem Quadio was trying to solve. Emerging artists have a very hard time finding each other and finding fans. Nor did it eliminate what Joe and Marcus believed to be the solution to that problem: the power of community.
Over the past six months, Quadio has been on an exciting (and, you might even say, fortuitous) period of reinvention. The Quadio 2.0 app will be released in early 2021, with less streaming and more social functionality for collaboration, opportunity, and exposure for creatives. Quadio has added a new division dedicated to digitally facilitated community-building activities, such as its immensely popular songwriting clubs. Opportunities for exposure, often brand sponsored, have been heavily augmented, with the addition of more contests that award cash prizes and mentorship sessions. And finally, in August, the company launched Quadio Records and Management, a label under the leadership of A&R veteran Abir Hossain that is designed to discover, develop, and promote the most exciting college talent in the country. Quadio Records recently announced a partnership with Sony’s Disruptor Records, and, working closely with six rising-stars in genres from Uke Trap to Bedroom Pop, is scheduled to release more than a dozen singles by the end of 2020.
Few start-ups stay the same from inception through actualization, even in normal times, but with Quadio what remains unchanged is the commitment of its founders and entire team (now 28 strong) to champion the next generation of creatives, unleashing the power of community for all the good it can do.