Interview With Kayla Liederbach of MurfieMurfie is one of those ideas I stumbled across during my copious amounts of time spent online that I am REALLY excited about and want to tell everyone I’ve ever met. Basically, it is a CD to MP3 service that then allows you to sell your CDs on your own online store. You set the price. Murfie comes with an online player and app so you can stream your music from the cloud from anywhere! I did it myself and have found the process extremely easy. You can get a shipping kit here (shipping is free and via UPS!) and soon, you will be enjoying your throwback Mike Jones and LFO like me.
I reached out to Murfie to see if they’d like to tell The Social Robot more about what they’re doing and what’s next. Kayla Liederbach, Murfie’s Artist Outreach, wrote me back. Enjoy!
How did you come up with the idea for Murfie?
Our co-founder, Matt Younkle, came up with the idea for Murfie when he spent time living abroad. He had a bunch of CDs back home in the states, and he couldn’t bring them all with him! He realized that there must be a way to access the music on his CDs remotely.
Do you have funding (e.g. are you a start-up)?
Yep! There’s a lot of folks who believe in us, and who want to see the concept of Murfie go far :-)
Why do you think your service stands out?
The short answer is, anyone who becomes a Murfie member will quickly find out that we are the best place to buy new and used music on the web. Many full albums (not single tracks) in our marketplace are $1, or $2, or $3, and our prices on new releases are terrific, too. You can stream your album right after you buy it, and download in lossless formats, which is awesome. And Murfie is the only online music store on the planet with an unpurchase button that allows you to return any album you’re not completely satisfied with up to 24 hours after your purchase. In addition to our marketplace, you can send your CDs from home to add to your online Murfie collection, and get the ability to access them via web streaming, downloading them to your desktop to add to your music player, and listening on any mobile iOS device (and soon any Android device), while getting the physical disc off your hands. When people find out they can do that with all the CDs in their closet or basement, they go nuts.
Has it been hard to break into the streaming community/industry?What has been your proudest accomplishment so far?
I think we’ve always been proud of our great success with streaming. Our streaming is set at 320kbps, which is really top notch, and we’re working on offering lossless streaming. We are proud of the fact that you don’t need to pay a subscription to stream the music you own…and you don’t have to sit through any annoying commercials.
How big is the Murfie team?
I’d say about 30 staffers work here. About 20 of them work in Operations, receiving Kits and ripping each individual disc that comes in to its designated account.
What is your working environment like?
It’s awesome! Murfie has a diverse group of people, mostly Wisconsin natives. It’s no secret that our company overall really cares about the well-being of everyone who works here. We’ve had two “fitness challenges” in the past, which struck up a competitive spirit here for sure! We also formed a kick-butt MUFA team last summer (Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association), and we are looking forward to doing that again this year. I think we only won one game last year, but we had so much fun. Our office stays stocked with Clementines to munch on–you know, those little oranges! And our staff holiday parties have been very memorable, to say the very least (imagine Matt’s karaoke rendition of “I’m on a Boat” with autotune).
Are you working on any other products or services?
In addition to a lossless streaming product, we’ve been researching a few other things, including providing our same service for things like Vinyl albums and books. Right now our focus remains on CDs, but we’ve definitely done some poking around.
Can you explain the membership terms and when those will go into effect?
Yes. Murfie is free to sign up for, and everyone can enjoy free streaming of the albums in their collection, along with free downloads of the albums they buy in MP3 and AAC format. Starting 5/1, you will need a Murfie Gold membership ($25/year) to add discs from home to your collection online. Gold members get one free Shipping Kit to add 100 discs from home, with additional ones at $0.49/each. Gold members also get free downloads in Lossless formats (FLAC & ALAC), $1 off all purchases (something going into effect starting 5/1), and free album trading with other Gold members. Pretty snazzy.
Have you done any guerrilla marketing, public promotions or “stunts” to promote Murfie?
We did make a video celebrating the 30th anniversary of the CD in the USA, and positioned is as “How to thwart a $5M CD heist!”. When we moved offices, we had to move $5M million worth of CDs, so we had armed police officers as our escorts! They were very nice, by the way :-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbGKPzpFNU8
Also, what type of marketing do you focus on?
We focus on web-based marketing, since it’s most convenient and practical. We recently started a radio endorsement plan with a local radio station in Madison, WMMM, and are excited to see where it takes us. If it’s very successful, which it’s looking to be, we would like to move towards national radio ads.
Do you go to any trade shows?
Why yes indeed! Not too many though, since most shows are B2B and our customers are music lovers, not other businesses. We are trying to focus on web-based ways to get our name out there. But we do pick some select events to attend, like SXSW and the SF Music Tech Summit. We also went to the Madison Biz Expo the other day. Even though we are a national company, it’s great to get to know the other Madison businesses and start-ups, since we are based here. It’s fun to be part of that great community, and we try to use local sources for products and services whenever we can.
How do you think most people find out about Murfie?
I think most people find out from being recommended by a friend, which is really great, and also through some major media exposure we’ve received, like through NPR, Time Magazine, and the Boston Business Journal.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Since we are a web-based company, we enjoy all the interactions that we get to have with our members from all over the country. We’ve been working to make our social media more interactive (blog, facebook, twitter & pinterest) so that we can be more connected with our members, and we’ve also been finding ways to connect our members with each other. One of my favorite new series is our “Shopkeep of the Week”, which highlights Murfie members who have been very active on the site: http://blog.murfie.com/category/shopkeep-of-the-week/
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