A Sound Investment

Eric and Tim Mortensen are brothers, business partners, and Indoor Boys through and through. And their latest venture just may be music to your ears. 10 albums for $15, anyone? Listen up—you’ll be singing praises.

Interview by Anita Stubenrauch, photographs courtesy of Eric and Tim Mortensen

Introduce yourselves. What makes you, Eric and Tim, Indoor Boys?
Hi, we are Tim and Eric Mortensen. In the Internet world, we are the co-founders of a new startup called Soundsupply. In the real world, we are brothers. We grew up in Chicago playing with Legos and doing Michael Jordan impressions in the driveway. Eric is an Indoor Boy because he can tell you the astronauts from every NASA space mission and the artist who designed their mission patch. Tim is an Indoor Boy because he can tell you what guitar strings Jeremy Enigk from Sunny Day Real Estate uses and why that was important in creating the tone on his favorite album “How It Feels To Be Something On.” We can take nerd to the next level.

You just launched a great way to find new music. Can you talk a little about how Soundsupply came to be and how it works?
Soundsupply came from an idea to help increase exposure to deserving bands. A lot of our favorite bands were discovered after they saw an unknown band open for a bigger band, or a band that we liked recommended that we check out someone out that they played with on tour. Bands possess a collective power, and Soundsupply is a way to capture that and use it to showcase new artists.

Soundsupply works like a lot of “flash sale” websites, where we bundle together a high value product and sell it for a short period of time at a ridiculous discount. For us, it’s 10 albums for 10 days for 15 dollars. It’s a high quality digital bundle full of amazing albums. The theory is that if you like even one band, it was worth your time and money.

You’re curators of sound. What goes into assembling a Soundsupply “drop?”
In reality, we sit on computers a lot, listening to a ton of music, sending a lot of emails and designing (and redesigning) every aspect to showcase the drop. If we romanticize it, we feel like we’re playing matchmaker for albums. We try to pick records that are compatible with each other, but also contradictory enough to make the bundle dynamic. We want the relationship to be complicated but perfect, like in “Ghost.” One of the people in the relationship is dead, but love finds a way by putting the dude in Whoopi Goldberg’s body. We’re the digital music equivalent of that.

Words cannot describe the bond between brothers.

Do drops have themes?
So far, the only theme has been “willingness to participate”. The bands from our first drop, generally speaking, have some similar qualities. We chose them because they are doing amazing things that we felt needed an extra spotlight. There’s some talk about developing some themes in future bundles, but we also like the idea of that we provide a wide-enough range of sounds that might challenge someone to go outside of their normal music comfort zone.

How do you find new artists?
We listen to A LOT of music. We have a ton of amazing friends who either play in bands or help us discover new music. We’ve gotten some great response from people who have purchased music from us and then email us to recommend bands that they love. Our favorite part of launching this website is the music community that we created. We love getting emails about cool stuff that’s going on in everyone’s individual local scene.

Soundsupply is a loss leader—artists take a pay cut in hopes of gaining exposure. How do you encourage them to participate?
Honestly, in the beginning we were prepared to do a lot of borderline begging, but the initial response by bands and labels was super encouraging. I think a lot of people recognize the need for some kind of disruption in the music industry. The beauty of technology is that it is supposed to create new avenues for artist exposure, but many times it ends up creating newways to hurt art. Soundsupply aims to help bands while still making them owners of their product—that message was picked up on by some labels right away. The ones that baulked at our setup are in a position where they can’t handle doing anything different with their music, and in the end, it made for a great filter to focus on the labels that are in a position that they can benefit from a new way to showcase their bands.

This isn’t your first venture. What else have you two been up to?
We ran a record label with our friend Jay called Common Cloud Records. Before that, we ran a lemonade stand in a our front yard one time, but we got sidetracked by our Slip ‘N Slide. We don’t have a ton of business experience, but we’re trying to use that to our advantage. We built Soundsupply to do two things: help bands and help music fans. We’re working on Soundsupply as a side project so we can really focus on our goals in ways that we feel are right, without the complication of running it as a full-time business.

This calls for a toast! The Soundsupply site goes live at 12:01 a.m. and it's a Baltimore to Ann Arbor FaceTime party.

I love my family, but they sure know how to make me crazy. What’s it like working with your brother?
It’s actually really great. We both know how to push each other’s buttons. Back in the day, that meant unfair torture and scheduled groundings, but today I think it means we know how to get the most out of each other. We know when the other person needs some encouragement and we know when we need to tell the other person that they’re being an idiot. We have similar work styles and similar snack break schedules, so it works out well.

What’s next?
Our plan is to launch the second drop this spring. We received great feedback about new features and different download options that we’re looking into now. From there, we’ve got some crazy, secret ideas for future things we want to try, but ultimately we hope to focus on keeping a consistent schedule of drops, of high quality music, for as long as people are interested.

Indoor Boys

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