In the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, Vydia, which is known as a company that cares about the larger community, asked its employees how the tech company could do better.
Vydia is physically located at Bell Works in Holmdel, though everyone is now working remotely. It offers labels, managers and artists the infrastructure and technology they need to power their businesses. Vydia provides supply-chain, global-distribution, analytics, rights-management and payment services.
The tech startup closed for nonessential business on June 2, in solidarity with Blackout Tuesday, (also called “The Show Must be Paused”). “We feel our obligation as an organization has to be much greater than posting a message on social media. Artists and labels that use the Vydia platform need to know our company’s values and what we represent,” said cofounder/CEO Roy LaManna.
“Artists and labels that use the Vydia platform need to know our company’s values and what we represent,”Roy LaManna, Vydia
Team members spent the day brainstorming ideas on how they could help the community. Many of the ideas that were adopted included support for local organizations. For example, the company has strengthened its ties with the All Stars Project (Newark), also known as Newark All Stars. Vydia holds team-building workshops with the All Stars semiannually, and now is committed to hiring and mentoring two students from that program every year.
It also increased its commitment to the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County. The company said on its website, “In addition to our previous volunteering efforts, Vydia commits to mentoring the students of their hip hop program so they may learn about the business of music and not just the creation of it. This will help students better understand their rights and ownership of anything they create.”
One of the ideas that came out of the Blackout Tuesday exercise was a new technology initiative that enables music creators to donate a percentage of their revenue to worthy causes. NJTechWeekly.com spoke with Jenna Gaudio, senior vice president of operations, about the technology initiative and how it happened.
“This is something that Roy LaManna had been talking about for a long time,” said Gaudio. “He had this idea in the back of his head for a while because we work with so many different organizations, and we’re always trying to support them in a variety of ways, and he is always tech minded. So, he said, ‘how can we take what we’ve done with tech? And how can we use it for good to support these organizations that we’re in partnership with?’ So, he rallied the whole team together and everyone thought that this was something that we all really wanted to do, and it was worth the time and the investment.”
“We wanted to leverage our technology in a way that fights inequity,”Jenna Gaudio, Vydia
The company implemented a charity function in its Royalty Center, the area of the platform where artists get paid. This new function allows verified charities that assert artists’ rights to become payment destinations, and it empowers artists to assign a percentage of their royalties to these charities on an asset-by-asset basis. Artists can donate a portion of an entire album’s revenue or release a song as part of a campaign to give back with revenue generated from streams and downloads, which would be automatically paid to the charity monthly.
“We wanted to leverage our technology in a way that fights inequity,” Gaudio said. “We have technology built into our platform where labels and managers and creators can share royalties with people, whether it’s collaborators, or friends or family, and they want to allocate a certain percentage of their royalties” to these people. “So, we expanded on that feature by allowing people to donate to charitable organizations and just be able to easily assign a percentage of royalties on a piece of content to those organizations.”
Vydia completely funded the time for the development team and the product-management team to figure out how to leverage what was in place and add charities to the platform (the project leads included Lauren Masterson, Mark Allen, Paul Santos and Tim Hoste). The first charity recommended by Vydia was the All Stars Project, according to Gaudio. The marketing team at Vydia put together some promotions to let Vydia’s clients know that this new feature was available.
While Vydia is backing the All Stars Project, artists can now also add their own charities to the mix. And they can insert any contact information they wish.
The startup was able to turn the project around in two weeks. The development teams work in two-week sprints, starting on Wednesdays, Gaudio noted. “So, we had Blackout Tuesday, and then pretty much the very next day, we got to work, figuring out how we could expand on the existing technology and refine it so it could highlight organizations,” she added. The idea was to help open doors to support for these nonprofit organizations.