Questions Answered: Robb McDaniels, Founder/CEO of INgrooves/Isolation Network
By Alex Pham
What did you wake up thinking this morning? And what keeps you up at night? I woke up thinking about new ways to get that first sip of coffee to my lips faster. Thinking doesn’t really begin until that happens. What keeps me up at night is our biggest challenge right now: maintaining our company culture while growing at such a rapid pace. INgrooves has averaged 70% annual sales growth over the past five years and has truly become a global company. It’s important to try and aim for 100% buy-in to a shared vision within the company, at least at a high level, but that becomes increasingly difficult. We can achieve this through constant communication, openness with senior management and occasional waterboarding–just kidding. Making our employees feel like it is their vision and not my vision is the key, because it’s really not mine anymore. We are the sum of our parts–our employees, our clients and our retail partners.
Describe a lesson you learned from failure. I learn the same lesson every time I experience failure: Failing gives you the opportunity to turn something around and make it right. It’s just a pathway with a dead end, so you turn around and find the right path. Having the desire, tenacity and will to continue until you get it right.
What will define your career in the coming year? I am thrilled by the early returns from our artist services group, INresidence. They have built a great team of experienced music professionals that are providing marketing and promotion services to established artists and labels looking for a better, and more fair, all-encompassing distribution solution. In this new paradigm, artists don’t need to cede control or give up the lion’s share of their income to get high-quality, robust services from their distribution company.
Who is your most important mentor, and what did you learn from him or her? I was extremely lucky to have met [former CBS Records president and MCA CEO] Al Teller about 10 years ago, and he has been a mentor to me and a member of our board of directors ever since. Al’s seen it all in his days, and his perspective is invaluable to me. But I really do rely on all the people around me to provide constant examples of excellence and uniqueness that I can apply to my future experiences. I’d like to think everyone has the capability of being my mentor in their own way.
Name a project that you or your company wasn’t affiliated with that has most impressed you in the past year. I really wanted to work on Lindsey Stirling’s first solo record. She is the dubstep classical violinist with immense talent and stage presence. She’s largely built her fan base on her own, via YouTube and touring, and is very hardworking and creative. I love working with artists and labels that aren’t afraid to push the envelope and connect with their fans in new and exciting ways. We really thought we could help her out but she proved she didn’t need us, and that, actually, is even cooler.
Name a desert island album. U2’s “Achtung Baby.”