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New website offers daily deals on indie music

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In a meeting of chance in a hotel in Barcelona, Spain, in June 2010, two travelers created a business plan. Matthew Firlik and Damien Amey were both traveling around Europe, separately, and started talking. After an entire day of excitedly exchanging ideas, the framework for GroopEase was set.

GroopEase is the newest “daily deal” website, running with the likes of livingsocial.com and groupon.com. The difference between all the other previously-existing sites and GroopEase is that the latter offers a daily deal for music lovers.

The site boasts the members’ ability to buy an entire album of the latest up-and-coming artists for a low price. The bonus feature is a free daily download of one song, so listeners can decide if they like the band and whether they should purchase the rest of the album.

Since their start on April 4, the site has gained hundreds of new members a day and has sold more than 1,000 albums, Firlik said.

“We have aggressive goals and ambitious expectations and we’re really busy, but we’re happy,” said Andrew Bratt, the third man behind GroopEase.

With so much controversy surrounding the legality of downloading music online, keeping things legal was a major concern for GroopEase. The only way to do things the right way is to have permission, Bratt said.

Bratt explained the legal process of obtaining rights for the music with the bands.

“You have to go straight to the artists and ask them to allow you to have the rights for the music to be on our site, for sound bites to be played, to give one away free and to sell the music,” Bratt said.

Both Bratt and Firlik agreed that the bands are more excited about the exposure they get by allowing GroopEase to spotlight their music than the monetary compensation they receive.

“Right now, money is secondary to growing audience and making bigger names for themselves. Regional bands are able to become nationally known,” Bratt said.

There is a formula for revenue splitting, but the bands are more about the quick boost it gives to their fan base. Being able to get their music out quickly to a large number of people increases the bands’ chances of touring, selling and eventually getting signed to a record label.

All the revenue is not split directly between the bands and the company. GroopEase seeks out lesser-known charities and donates part of their proceeds to each selection for a month or two at a time.

The current charity that GroopEase is focused on is the Empower Nepali Girls Foundation, a charity that Firlik became aware of while traveling. The charity helps families with young girls who are in danger of being sold into sex trade in Nepal. Currently, GroopEase is providing 5 percent of their proceeds to a school the charity funds, giving the girls a chance to gain an education and become profitable members of their society.

“We look for charities that are along the same lines as our bands: lesser known, but really good. Ones we feel you should know about,” Bratt said.

Now rooted in Southern California, Firlik, Amey and Bratt continued their train of ideas and set head-on into the business world with a fusion of a daily deal and new music in sight.

The GroopEase guys count on Amey as their new music guru. Amey’s official title is “talent acquisition,” something he doesn’t take lightly. He finds bands from all over, and has a specific sound that he looks for.

“Damien puts together lists, listens to the music and decides which ones he likes. It’s difficult for him because he wants bands that have a mainstream appeal but can still fit in the indie niche of the company,” Bratt said.

GroopEase has provided a special code for Ohio State students. Using the code ‘buckeye’, students can obtain access to the newest indie sounds on groopEase.com.

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