Breaking Records

Harlem's DigiWaxx uses technology to redefine the music industry

Corey “CL” Llewellyn, 30, was barely out of his teens when he decided he wanted to be a major player in the music industry. As an intern in 1995, he spent most of his time lugging clothes from video shoots back to the designers. Still, the Westchester, New York, native frequently got noticed for his hard work and determination. Llewellyn quickly moved from unpaid to paid internships, eventually landing at Crave Records, Mariah Carey’s now-defunct imprint, a division of Sony Music. By the time the label folded in 1998, Llewellyn was already in talks with childhood friend Drew Edgar, 30, about launching their own company.

“The first [Internet] boom was just starting to take off,” Llewellyn says. “Our vision was to create a digital distribution powerhouse, to sell artists digitally, and promote them through deejays and vinyl.” The two combined the terms digital and wax for vinyl. “That’s how DigiWaxx came about,” Llewellyn remembers. “We were young. We didn’t know half of what we needed to know, we didn’t have the finances, we didn’t know exactly what we wanted the company to be, but the name was hot.”

In 1998, the partners decided to invest about $3,000 to start DigiWaxx, a multitiered marketing company with a flagship product, DigiWaxx Service, which allows record companies and artists to promote their music through MP3 technology. This lets clients provide access to new music products to a global community of deejays.

Llewellyn began promoting artists by reaching out to deejays and supplying them with new music and, occasionally, with MP3 files. Then, he says, “It clicked in my head: We can start a digital service. This was how we created a niche in the music business, a business that serviced digital vinyl.” At that time, DigiWaxx had been surviving as a promotional entity with a few corporate clients. But once Llewellyn realized what he could do with technology, he finally left his day job.

In the fall of 2005, DigiWaxx formed a brief partnership with Netcore Digital to help create the back-end architecture that would allow DigiWaxx to upload music and deliver digital files to a larger pool of deejays. The agreement, a mix of cash and profit participation, amounted to an investment of roughly $50,000. Next, to appeal to record companies, Llewellyn created a members-only component. Deejays sign up for free, listen to a music file, and then provide feedback to DigiWaxx. At that point, the file is then unlocked and available for use by the deejay. In turn, the record companies, which are charged $2,000 by DigiWaxx, receive real-time feedback on their latest product. To meet the needs of the deejay, DigiWaxx often supplies several versions of the same song (ex: a radio edit or an acapella version).

With the launch of its current Web application in late 2005, DigiWaxx grossed more than $750,000. As the client list grew, the number of deejays around the world who signed up for the service ballooned to 20,000. In 2006, DigiWaxx partnered with Microsoft to help promote the

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