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How Symphonic works in harmony with Slack to distribute music

“With Slack, we’re able to communicate to a wider round of stakeholders without filling up the inbox.”

Jorge BreaFounder and CEO, Symphonic

As an independent music distribution company, Symphonic works with record labels, artists, talent managers and many more to bring music to markets worldwide. Founded in 2006, Symphonic focuses on distributing Latin, hip hop and electronic music, but has experience placing tunes from all genres onto global digital streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora.

Before Slack, Symphonic employees relied on a patchwork of technologies, from haphazard email inboxes to multiple messaging and video chat platforms. Then in 2012, Symphonic went wall to wall with Slack.

“As we expand into different markets, particularly Latin America, having Slack is a crucial part of our launch and expansion plans,” says Symphonic founder and CEO Jorge Brea, a former DJ and music producer. “It’s key to us in order to run an efficient and successful office.”

Since its founding, the company has grown into a 52-person operation, expanding from its headquarters in Tampa to remote offices in Brooklyn, New York, Denver, Nashville and Bogotá, Colombia. Today, Symphonic works with over 20,000 clients to facilitate the distribution, marketing and royalties for more than one million songs—and Slack is there to support the business every step of the way.

“With Slack, we’re able to communicate to a wider round of stakeholders without filling up the inbox.”

Jorge BreaFounder and CEO, Symphonic

Orchestrating music distribution with Slack channels

As the digital music landscape expands, so do the options of streaming platforms that independent musicians can use to grow their fan bases. Yet, each platform can have slightly different sets of standards, format requirements and procedures that artists and their teams must follow in order to upload and market their music.

Enter Symphonic distribution. Once an artist’s or label’s music is quality-approved and accepted by Symphonic, audio files and promotional images can be uploaded to the distribution company. Symphonic then does the work of re-encoding or reformatting the assets, depending on the requirements of the platform, before sending the files to the corresponding streaming service.

Symphonic uses Slack to keep its myriad clients, complex data and external partners organized and easy to engage. Each team, from finance to client relations to corporate marketing, has its own Slack channel—a place for teams to share messages, tools and files.

“One of the biggest ways we use Slack channels includes managing project notifications and updates,” Brea says. “They help create conversations internally over how we’re able to market a product, whether a product is delivered and how we can take action from there.”

Brea also says employees across the organization frequently use message threads in Slack, cutting down on any irrelevant chatter to help focus on solving issues like barcode ID errors and metadata editing. Some of the Slack channels the company uses include:

  • #marketing-drivers: When a client has uploaded its “marketing drivers”—pitch materials to help tell the story around the music—that Symphonic needs to create, team members are updated via notifications dropped into a channel using an Airtable Slack app integration
  • #onboarding: Using both HubSpot and HelloSign Slack app integrations, Symphonic can track new deals plus notify appropriate teams when a new client has signed its contract and needs an account created
  • #spoke: Symphonic operates without a formal IT department and has just a few developers addressing technological issues, but with the Slack app integration Spoke, support tickets and requests are organized and addressed in channel
  • #internal-updates: The product team announces and breaks down new Symphonic platform features to the staff, enabling teams like corporate marketing and creative design to build external stories around rollouts
  • #industry-news: Symphonic teams are kept up to date on relevant moves in the music and tech industries at large

The Symphonic events and operations teams also spin up specific Slack channels to collaborate on events they’re hosting, such as music showcases, mini-conferences and industry panels.

Coordinating global creative collaboration in Slack

In addition to individual artists and their managers, Symphonic does what Brea calls “creative dealmaking.” Brea and his teams work with labels and other distribution companies that might not have the same resources as Symphonic to expand their reach into global markets and onto specific platforms.

Simultaneously, Symphonic is expanding its own reach, particularly in Spanish-language markets. As a result, it is constantly collaborating with international contractors and partner organizations in places such as Spain and Puerto Rico using Slack’s single-channel and multichannel guest access feature.

On the client side, Symphonic also offers a paid VIP concierge tier. A limited pool of customers at this level are able to engage directly with Symphonic representatives in guest channels and enjoy one-off services like video encoding or more full-suite attention.

“With Slack, we’re able to communicate to a wider round of stakeholders without filling up the inbox,” Brea says.

From connecting satellite offices and contractors to coordinating global marketing campaigns, Brea says Slack has been instrumental in enabling Symphonic’s expansion as an independent company in an increasingly complex music market.