We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew McCluskey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
That conventional advice will work for you. Has anyone been you before? Has anyone got the unique set of skills and talents and life experiences that make up YOU? Has anyone had your idea before? I’m not talking about top level aggregate, I’m talking about your unique take on it – the feeling that makes you go – “Yes, this is it, this can work, I’m going to go for it” – has anyone seen it from your perspective before? If you’ve answered No to both of those questions – then how the hell can the advice – compiled in aggregate on what everyone else has done in the past – be a roadmap for the manifestation of your idea? Conventional advice paints in broad brush strokes – it describes the pool, not how you should swim in it. Understanding that positioning, marketing, culture, growth strategy etc., are things you should be looking at is one thing, following conventional advice on how to develop strategies and tactics within these areas is another, and rarely works out.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
musicto is a global community of curators who only add tracks to their playlists that you won’t stop listening to. We’re real human beings and our playlists are organically grown over time – over years – we don’t use algorithms, we don’t use incentive “gates” or pay to play – we listen to a load of music and only publish what we love. What excites me about the project is discovering all these people from different countries and cultures who share the same passion for finding great music – and not just for finding, but for sharing that music with the world. The vibe of our community is – for want of a better word – wholesome – while sure we’re motivated by growing our playlists and the eventual monetization of the brand – the core behavior that underpins everything is the listening to and sharing of music – and that just leads to a groovy community. When I look back there are two “red threads” that run through my career: a love for music and a love for people. I’ve held a lot of jobs from dishwasher to creative director, professional songwriter to CEO – when I had my business hat on I was always writing music in the evenings – when I was employed in the music world I was always planning my side hustle at night – every gig taught me a new skill and as my armory of experiences grew I would apply what I’d learned to the next one. The hardest thing to deal with is the failure of a project – whether corporate or musical – when you’ve poured years of your life into it – left nothing on the table and indeed overextended yourself – and yet it all comes crashing down. It’s the worst and I’ve been on that ride several times. There’s no cure for it, no rule book on how to handle it – the only thing that’s worked for me is time – I think now I’ve learned to insulate myself a wee bit but – I suspect to succeed in any significant creative venture, you have to be all in – you can’t leave anything on the table – it makes us super vulnerable and it’s super scary but, it’s the life we choose. While music is the vehicle I work with, music is intangible. As executives, as leaders, the only thing we can directly influence are the human beings – the people. If there’s one takeaway from my experience it is how you work with people that makes the difference. If you can create an environment where people align their intent and energies to work towards a shared goal – then magic can happen – I’ve seen it – have been part of a team that changed tens of thousands of people’s lives through community and I want to do it again. I worry about income and wealth inequality – I see parallels in the music world – the digital structures that were supposed to open the market up, seem instead to have narrowed the path – the same gatekeepers hold the keys, they just have different names – while successes are bigger they come from a smaller pool of artists – music becomes homogenized by the algorithm and it gets harder and harder to find something new – at least, that’s how it feels. In the past when you’d look for new music you’d think of Billboard, the “Top 40”, Bandstand or Top of the Pops – today you think of Spotify or Apple, Discover Weekly or New Music Daily – we see musicto as being part of that space. We see musicto as a globally recognized brand that listeners associate with something different, where artists actually have access – beholden to no-one and driven by the tastes of thousands of crazy ass music lovers. musicto is an attempt to leverage the global desire for music to create new avenues of discovery and distribution. We’re in 27 countries, we have over 9,500 hand written track write ups and we’re just getting started.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well you have to do the touristy stuff – otherwise they’ll feel they missed out – H&H, the sign, Santa Monica etc – but once that’s out the way you can start on the groovy stuff -things not to miss: – The Grove and Farmers Market – Solid contrast in retail experiences – the Farmers Market is more fun – don’t forget to buy ridiculously hot and wonderfully named hot sauce as gifts. – The Museum of Jurassic Technology – https://www.mjt.org/ – hidden away on Venice Boulevard in Culver City, you’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there – the most perfectly weird museum I’ve ever been to – if you like edibles this can be a six hour experience – don’t forget to have tea. – Pitchers of blended Margaritas at a rail side table at the Sidewalk Cafe on the Venice boardwalk – yes it’s super touristy – the drinks aren’t anything to write home about and the pianist can be a bit loud but – you’re not here for any of that – you’re here for some of the best people watching on the planet. Wear sunscreen and dark shades – don’t make eye contact – avoid guitarists on rollerblades and watch out for the shadow man – bonus points if you can manage the sunset and stagger north to the drum circle. -Depending on how long you have, you shouldn’t just spend it all on your butt in a bar – the ocean is here, as are all the vendors on the boardwalk so you definitely need to experience both. My preferred route is to walk south first – up to the basketball courts – sit down, watch a pick up game and feed the animals at the gym – once you’re rested it’s recommended to purchase a pair of colored sunglasses from one of the many stalls – blue shades can deliver a dependably cool experience but my personal favorite is to twin a pair of deep red shades and a small edible -then walk west and make your way down to the beach – once you hit the surf turn south and head towards Santa Monica – washing your feet in the pacific and watching the surfers, sunbathers and views back to the city. You can go all the way down to the pier but we generally cut back at the end of the boardwalk and grab a beer in the Waterfront – once rested start the treacherous walk back south as you admire the “local” artists and musicians – say hi to Sky who has the best and grooviest original art on the boardwalk – again avoid guitarists on rollerblades and people handing out CDs – make it back to your car and get out of dodge. – If you’re down this way then Tito’s Tacos on Washington Place in Culver City is worth a visit – the tacos are fine but it’s the meat and cheese Burrito you want to go for – no beans – chips and salsa. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
musicto wouldn’t exist without its community – the people across 27 countries who believe in the vision, listen to all kinds of music, add to their playlists and publish write-ups every week on musicto.com. Without them I’d be a solo artist promoting his own work – with them we’re a global community with the chance to change the status quo. Also clearly my wife of 20 years who was crazy enough to marry an illegal immigrant musician – thanks Wendi! 🙂
Other: https://open.spotify.com/user/musictolabel?si=NeNVUETzQ4ypQTUQF_Vm3Q https://music.apple.com/profile/musicto https://soundcloud.com/you/sets