We talked to Dartsya Tarkovska, founder of Soundbuzz, a music consulting agency. This is what she said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dartsya Tarkovska: Kyiv became a red zone in Ukraine again, so the lockdown rules are still here. However, in a year, I’ve adjusted to modern realities, and the offline world sounds like a very distant past at this point. Currently, it’s all about daily zoom-calls, google docs, and digital projects.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Soundbuzz.
Dartsya Tarkovska: I founded Soundbuzz back in 2013. Initially, we were a music digital company. That was quite tricky as we defined a very specific domain expertise for ourselves. DIY artists could create amazing music and felt like the Internet is the key promotion tool, yet still didn’t know how to use it properly. Slowly we felt a shift in the narrative – while some musicians were glad to delegate their digital-related responsibilities, the majority was asking questions and required rather coaching. That’s how we transitioned into a music consulting agency. Today we focus on consulting in areas of music management and marketing along with educational initiatives. Basically, we explain to musicians what to do with their music, but the real actions remain their responsibility.
How does Soundbuzz innovate?
Dartsya Tarkovska: Knowing the specifics of Eastern European countries and having a broad industry network, we still facilitate independent music scene and help them strengthen their voice. We also bring new trends to the Ukrainian music market – e.g., we were the first company to hold networking parties in the music industry and do industry trends overview. Last year we held a study on the Ukrainian music market. It was the first study ever held in this field in our country.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dartsya Tarkovska: Early 2020, around 70% of our activities required adjustments, including the study of the Ukrainian music market. At the end of the day, this project took us 5 months, and the team of 9 people never met in person – we managed to do everything online, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc. The result of our work can be found here.
Needless to say, we’re even more prepared for 2021 and initially planned to focus on digital activities. Currently, we’re preparing a set of in-depth workshops on music marketing in several languages.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dartsya Tarkovska: One of the biggest lessons was really simple. You can’t hold on to the ruined plans. 2020 was supposed to become a big year for us, and the majority of projects were either canceled or digitalized. Sometimes you just can’t help but saying ‘awh, it’s not the same as it used to be / it’s not the same as it could have been.’ It’s important to live in the present rather than hold on to the past or future. The moment you feel it, your perception of COVID-realities changes.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Dartsya Tarkovska: Despite our tools didn’t change, it was all about working with people in a digital reality. Some of our partners considered digital communication as a whole new world. Having a ‘zoom-coffee,’ for example, or hold a networking session online is totally different. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s just different.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dartsya Tarkovska: More and more educational initiatives in the music industry take place since investing in one’s knowledge, and skill box is one of the best decisions now. However, we tend to focus not on the breadth of the topic but rather its depth. That’s how we plan to keep the core of our audience with us.
Your final thoughts?
Dartsya Tarkovska: Don’t wait for the better times to come. It’s always here and now. Consider life as a game.
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