We talked to Michael Tension of Hipster Bait about entertainment during the pandemic.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Tension: I live in Victoria, BC, on Vancouver Island. We’re very fortunate here. Though things have definitely been affected by COVID, it hasn’t been anywhere near the issue it’s been elsewhere.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Hipster Bait.
Michael Tension: Hipster Bait started as an idea back in 2012. I had just recorded a new record. It was all songs I had written for a band that I had for 10 years. I recorded it just for some closure. My partner and co-founder asked if I was going to release it. I said, “Fuck no. Rock is dead. Who’d be interested?” Both being creative people, we explored the idea of how one would set about bringing back rock n’ roll? Hipsters. That’s who. It rolled out from that initial thought.
How does Hipster Bait innovate?
Michael Tension: Hipster Bait is the first location-based music discovery platform ever. This has never been done before.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Michael Tension: We launched Hipster Bait on iOS and Android on June 5, 2020. Right in the heart of the pandemic. We debated a lot before deciding to stick with our plans. This launch was only in the Pacific Northwest. Originally we were going to do a ton of street work to promote the project because we live in the area. With the border closed and the health risks, all street-level campaigning had to be set aside.
We had big plans for using physical cassettes as well as augmented. The physical cassettes also had to be put aside. We just launched with social ads and a press release. We decided we would use this as an opportunity to learn and keep improving the product. We’re now halfway across North America and taking our time.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Tension: For us, the most difficult choice is when it’s right to use media to promote Hipster Bait. We’re location-based and create all of our own launch locations. This makes getting the app usable across the country takes us some time. We can’t add every small town. If we blast the word out to all of the US that we exist, it will lead to bad reviews from potential users in cities we’re not in yet. We are forced to keep things quiet and only advertise directly to cities we’re already in. This is slower and more expensive, but on the other side, it has taught us to be agile. Why do you need to be everywhere at once? You have to learn to enjoy the growing pains a bit.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Michael Tension: For the most part, I work very well under pressure. I think most creatives with an advertising background do. Of course, there are times when it’s over the top, and it isn’t healthy or a rush. That’s when I need to get outside and walk. Breathe the ocean air. For me, that’s a big help.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Tension: Hipster Bait doesn’t have any direct competitors yet. We thought we had indirect competitors, like streaming platforms, that we now see as partners and allies. What we’re planning now is how to better integrate with the platforms where artists make money.
Your final thoughts?
Michael Tension: I truly believe that nothing worth a damn comes easy. You need to be patient and put in the work. It’s going to be worth it. Plus, the journey is all life really is.