Opening ears to a changing music industry
Founded by international DJ and music psychologist Brian d’Souza in 2007, Open Ear aims to help businesses define their brand through music. Brian takes Bdaily behind the business.
What key challenges has your company recently faced?
Open Ear has been going through a massive transition in the past 18 months with the launch of our new MusicManager platform and consumer app. Launching our new cloudbased system during a busy growth period was challenging, however, during the process we maintained a great relationship with our developer PlanysCloud, who understood clearly what it was we were looking to achieve.
We were also able to retain 100% of our subscriber base during the transition phase. Launching the new platform in August was incredibly rewarding and we have received excellent feedback from clients enjoying the new service already.
What is your biggest achievement over the past 12 months?
Our biggest achievement this year has been the successful launch of MusicManager and new ‘Open Ear™’ iPhone app. This was greatly assisted by Creative Scotland with an award of £95,000 from their Innovation Fund.
MusicManger is a new music platform which features a number of innovations that not only represent a step forward for the industry as a whole, but will change the way businesses use music. Such features include our unique ‘Energy Slider™’ DJ control – allowing real-time playlist adjustment according to footfall and mood.
This means that businesses can always create the perfect atmosphere, at all times of day or night, at just a touch of a button. Our supporting ‘Open Ear™’ iPhone app, is our first foray into engaging with the consumer directly and allows the general public to discover, rate, and share the music they hear in clients’ venues.
Not only does it give us a tool to help businesses engage with their customer, it also represents a paradigm shift away from this just being about traditional ‘background music’ and into a conversation about how music can be incorporated alongside other business aspects, such as venue design and marketing.
What is your biggest focus for the coming year?
Now that MusicManager has launched, our key focus is to grow the business here in the UK, building on our existing client base, which includes clients such as citizenM, DoubleTree by Hilton, Oakmann Inns and Beanscene.
As the new platform is cloud based it allows us to scale up or down, enabling us to be flexible and responsive to changing market places and different opportunities. As a result, we are now talking to larger scale operators and multinational brands that would benefit from the features of MusicManager.
A key objective of Open Ear has always been to banish the traditional notion of ‘background’ music. Not only does it devalue what we do, but it also devalues what music can deliver to businesses and brands. Throughout the coming year we will continue to work with our clients, educating them on the power of music and how it can be harnessed to create a positive impact for business and consumers alike.
If you had to choose one top piece of advice for someone just starting out in business, or is currently operating within your industry sector, what would it be?
A great piece of advice I read recently is from Matt Kingdon’s book called ‘Science of Serendipity’, which talks about innovation within the workplace. It explains how life is full of ‘happy accidents’ that we can leverage by taking risks, seizing opportunities, and constantly challenging the status quo. Having taken risks myself, I know how nerve-wracking and challenging it can be, especially in the current climate. However, personally I feel it is always better to know than to wonder ‘what if’.
Can you share with us your view of the current landscape of business, in your region or generally, and where your organisation sits within it?
Open Ear is predominantly a web-based business so is not really restricted by location. As we like to build a personal relationship with our clients, we have recently added a London office in addition to our headquarters in Glasgow.
Scotland is a great place to build a business. It has a huge array of support services that really helped us over the past five years, especially during the early days. London, as any organisation operating there will tell you, is a hub activity which can open a lot of doors globally. It made sense for us at our current stage to expand here.
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