Sometimes, when you interview people, you can feel a knowledge, experience and skill that only comes from working hands-on in your chosen field. Mattias Lövkvist has that quality. In 2004, he migrated from journalism to found Hybris, a record label that would go on to push the boundaries of the new digital music distribution format in Sweden, including a brace of Swedish Grammy-winning artists in its roster.
Today, Lövkvist uses his decades of experience as the founder of Aloaded. Part record label, part music distribution, management, PR… it’s a model that defies description. And it’s got artists from all genres and locations tapping into its services.
John Gadnert and Mattias Lövkvist from Aloaded.
“At the core, we’re digital distributors. We distribute labels and their artists so their fans can find their music on the big streaming services. But we refer to ourselves as a full-service distributor – you’d to come us to save yourselves having to source countless other individual entities. We do everything an artist or label could ever want,” explains Lövkvist.
During the Hybris years, Lövkvist and Hybris co-founder, John Gadnert pretty much did it all, in the spirit of passionate DIY. From pitching their artists into the emerging digital platforms to PR, making vinyl, flyposting… When 2015 rolled around, Lövkvist and Gadnert, had an idea to use all their knowledge and offer it to artists and labels that need help with these kinds of activities. In 2018, Aloaded was launched in earnest.
“If you need, say, a music video, we hook you up with some of our contacts, if you want your band’s gig postered up in a big city, we fix that. You need someone to master a track, we got that. Maybe you want a publishing deal, we can help with the contracts. We either do it all ourselves, or we hit our contacts book,” says Lövkvist.
It’s probable that, reading this, you might get the feeling that what Aloaded does flies in the face of the digital-everything way of thinking that defines our music landscape today. And it does.
Lövkvist puts Aloaded in context, noting that most distributors today copy a system in which a distributor is just that in the truest sense of the word. But rather than a truck delivering LPs to a record store, a distributor today is essentially a ‘server’, storing music and pushing it out to a streaming service.
“At Aloaded we’re humans. We’re hands-on. The way we work is very scalable. We offer regular distribution for artists who get the rest done themselves and have almost 4000 artists with over 100,000 tracks out there. But most people come to us because we can really help make their artistry easier with our full service,” he notes.
What the Aloaded team has found is that by giving its clients a personalised human point of access, they support an artist or label in a way that the big players simply can’t hope to attain. Because, as Lövkvist stresses, the digital music revolution has a romantic vision of the artist being in control, but the reality is that they still need help with so many things. And, unless you’re successful enough to have a team around you, it can be a lonely industry. Aloaded brings professionalism, passion, and a willingness to get stuff done. Or, as Lövkvist says; “We give people the chance to eliminate the simple mistakes that can kill the success of an artist or track.”
As the conversation turns towards merch and how Aloaded is working with Creator Studio, we chat about the role of merch in music today. Lövkvist views it as a huge opportunity to turn it into a very potent revenue stream.
“Merch is a strong channel for sure. It makes so much sense to use it as an artist, especially if you’re at the stage when you’re touring or have a committed fanbase – especially if your fans can’t get to a gig. If you sell 100 hoodies on our website, depending on the price, that can be the same revenue as 1 million Spotify streams! And getting that is way more work. Sure, selling merch is a big job but, comparably, it’s a lot easier than making a piece of music.”
Having explored merch on demand before, Creator Studio felt like a good proposition for Aloaded. Better logistics, quality backed by the H&M Group and fulfilment working in harmony to give Aloaded a new service to offer to its roster, who are already embracing the solution.
“We’re seeing an increase in the number of artists using the connectivity between Shopify and Spotify to bridge the gap between the merch and their fans. And it’s something we’d encourage because it’s working. There’s one artist I know who sells 25k Euros a month on merch alone. If 1 million streams bring you 3 or 4,000, you do the maths as to the power of merch for an artist,” Lövkvist adds.
The opening weeks of 2023 have seen Artificial Intelligence dominate conversations in tech land. Tools powerful enough to replicate human language or visual imagery that some suggest may be the end of more sectors of human creativity. Our brief time with Aloaded shows that it’s often quite the opposite effect – the more tech evolves, the place and context for real human contact and skill becomes crystal clear. Disruption from the soul still rocks.
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