There’s truly nothing that rivals the nostalgic feeling of having your favorite album physically in your hands.
This is exactly what Matt Fiedler thought back in 2012—just six years after music streaming giant Spotify entered the market.
Matt was craving a different way to experience music, one that was slower and tactile, and that incorporated the social connection he admired. “It felt like there was something missing from where the experience of consuming music was going,” Matt says. What he didn’t know, though, was that so many others would feel the same. When he launched his monthly vinyl subscription business, Vinyl Me, Please, it became a massive hit.
Vinyl Me, Please works closely with labels and artists to currrate, press, and package an exclusive record that creates a unique experience for their members. They offer custom art prints and cocktail pairing recipes along with the record to enhance the listening experience.
After just five years of bootstrapping the business, Vinyl Me, Please brought in revenue of over $11 million, and signed up more than 30,000 subscribers.
What started out as a curiosity turned into an opportunity for Matt and his co-founders, Tyler and Cameron, to ground their curiosity and think of music in the most pure way possible. “We said, ‘Hey, what if there are more people out there like us? How do we turn this into a celebration and a way to bring people together in and around music?’”
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Why VMP chose to go against the grain and not follow the VC business model
Their genuine approach to growing the business became a key pillar, as Vinyl Me, Please scaled and expanded globally. They refused to follow the stereotypical model that most businesses used in order to receive VC funding.
“The antithesis of the VC model is exactly how we approached building our business, and when we were raising money, we got a lot of push back from people who wanted us to extend the business model” Matt says.
They didn’t expand beyond music, or design plans to scale or change the ethos of the business though. They stuck to their intuition, with faith that more people like them were out there.
Their love of music shone through in the brand’s authentic approach to marketing. That approach attracted their early customers before the business took off. “It really gave people something to believe in, and they couldn’t help but share it with their friends,” Matt says.
By sticking to their passion and believing in this wholesome love for vinyl and desire to connect over it, they were able to create a brand that continues to withstand trends over time. “The value of the brand was always predicated on the idea of exploring music together and facilitating journeys through music, which, again, is the antithesis of the algorithmic experience that you get through streaming,” Matt says.
Vinyl Me, Please learns where their weak spots are
After the first few years, it became clear which areas of the business the founders were excelling at, and where they were struggling. “Inventory was both, in a way, our biggest barrier to growth and also the biggest risk to the business,” Matt shares.
Learning that they needed to have less cash tied up in inventory allowed the co-founders to spend more time developing the brand of Vinyl Me, Please as a whole without having to worry about the flow of funds.
How they branded the business
Matt stuck to three key elements in order to perfect the brand. “I think the first key is authenticity, and then it’s about being able to speak to that person [you’re marketing toward], being able to connect with them visually, both through words and through pictures, but then also acting as this leader in a way, or a parent that’s not super far ahead of them,” Matt says.
Matt has since stepped down as the CEO of Vinyl Me, Please to pursue his next challenge. In March of 2021, he founded UNBRKBLE, a company that develops and delivers consumer-centric tools and strategies for brands to deepen their relationship with their customers.
Tune in to the full Shopify Masters episode to hear about Matt’s approach to Vinyl Me, Please’s customer success, his journey with authenticity, and how he knew it was the right time to step away from the business.