Three Brothers Aim To Disrupt Music Industry With Startup

Three brothers are aiming to upend the music industry with their social discovery marketplace – which the Main Line siblings said is already attracting the attention of a state-backed investment firm.

Hearo.fm is a “fair distribution program” for artists, allowing them to bring their music directly to fans and name their own price for song downloads, said 26-year-old Andrew Antar, who created the program with his brothers, Brian, 27, and Nathan, 32.

“It is sort of a combination of iTunes and Spotify without the restrictions. You don’t have to pay a subscription fee, but you can still support the artists directly,” Antar described, adding Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners has already committed $100,000 matching investment to the company.

“You can listen to whole album online for free from all the artists. In order to buy downloads, that’s when you pay the artists,” he explained. “Or you can tip the artist directly without the download.”

Antar, who grew up in Penn Valley, Pa., said the investment will allow Hearo.fm to bring on three new full-time staff members, two in development and one in marketing, to its Frankford offices. The company is also partnering up with Fame House, a local digital marketing agency that touts Eminem, Ice Cube and Pearl Jam as clients, he said.

While the siblings are excited about the interest from investors, the trio touts the growing attention of music lovers – Hearo.fm recently passed 400,000 page views – as a marker of success.

“We are looking to get that in the millions,” Antar said.

After spending the past several years since founding Hearo.fm focusing on recruiting musicians to take advantage of the product, the company is shifting its attention to drawing in fans.

“We have thousands of artists with really great content uploaded,” he said, adding you’d have to listen constantly for weeks straight to get through the entire music catalog.

Of artists’ self-determined price, the musicians keep 90 percent and Hearo.fm keeps the remaining 10, Antar said.

As the company continues to grow, more revenue streams will be incorporated – like targeted advertisements and marketing services for the musicians, he said.

Meanwhile the engineering team continues to add more features, like the recently launched embeddable players that allows users to drop a single directly onto their blog.

“Essentially we are an online record label,” Antar said, “except we are algorithmically sorted and it is open to everyone. …So all the best content rises to the top based on fan views, amount of downloads, and reviews.”

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, Alison Burdo
Photo: Brothers Brian (left inset) and Andrew Antar (right inset), along with Nathan (not pictured) are the Hearo.fm founders. (Hearo.fm)