It all started in 2009… I’d released a few things on my DIY label Infinite Best, and gotten hired by the great BaDaBing! Records in Brooklyn. One of my many jobs there was to do the royalty accounting using spreadsheets.
(This is Hunter btw – I’m the co-founder of Infinite Catalog, along with Udbhav Gupta. TLDR version: a catalog and an artist teamed up to create a royalty accounting software + service that works equally well for catalogs and artists alike.)
Needing to do royalties for my own label as well, I got really into it, obsessively tweaking the process and the statements. This reduced the amount of time they took, or improved how they looked, but it was still quite the chore.
Periodically I’d look around for some sort of dedicated software to help manage the task, but was surprised to find it all seemed really out of date, too complicated, too expensive.
In 2011 I left BaDaBing and started doing royalties freelance for a few other labels, charging by the hour, still working in spreadsheets. The more I asked around, the more it seemed like every label was struggling with this part of the job. The rise of streaming, and the explosion of new distribution, direct-to-fan, and rights platforms meant the bar for earning income from music was lower, but tracking it all had become a labor-intensive nightmare. It was distracting folks from their main goal of helping artists and releases get heard, and many were thrilled to get royalties off their plate.
Spreadsheets are amazing, but they’re not databases, and definitely not great for keeping track of ever-changing balances over long periods of time. Things get lost, formats and templates change, it becomes impossible to see the whole picture or share anything with artists other than siloed spreadsheets or static pdfs. It can become a source of tension between you and your artists, instead of a service you’re providing to them. The more releases you do, the harder it gets.
More labels kept showing up for help, and I hired the amazing Elene Perry, now a key member of our Catalog Services team. I also began looking into how my spreadsheet system could be turned into the kind of software I thought should have existed in the first place.
In late 2018 I asked Udhbav Gupta from the band Mr Twin Sister, no stranger to the royalties problem and a talented programmer, if he knew anyone who might be interested in building a software platform dedicated to royalty accounting. He offered to give it a shot himself, and by early 2019 we had a prototype of what we were now calling Infinite Catalog.
Not only did IC work, it worked *great* – the process became faster, easier, and tons of new abilities were unlocked thanks to it being databases instead of spreadsheets. Labels and catalogs of all kinds could now get a handle on the process, and still be backed up by our many years of experience. Artists could be invited to the platform, so that everyone can be on the same page, at least when it comes to royalties. What was once a potential source of tension could now be a huge value-add that the catalog is providing the artist.
Pricing was designed so that every catalog could get the same features and support no matter their size, and in 2020 we started inviting existing clients to the platform one by one, getting feedback and improving accordingly. Every single one signed up, and two more amazing folks joined the IC team, Willy Husted (Product) and Ari Stern (Services).
Since opening the doors to new customers, we’re regularly floored by their excitement upon finding us. It turns out a lot of folks have been looking for something like IC. Catalogs big and small, new and established, traditional and experimental, everything in between.
It’s not just the software they’re excited about, though it is indeed best-in-class; over and over, customers and artists tell us it’s also the service, that we understand what they’re going through because we’ve been there too, that we genuinely care and know how to help.
Udbhav is still in Mr Twin Sister, I still put out the occasional record, and we’re going to continue building Infinite Catalog in equal measure for artists and catalogs alike. We’re all in this together.