Jess Benko, a singer-songwriter based in Toronto, started uploading spare, plaintive acoustic ballads to SoundCloud in 2019. Tracks like “Maybe You Miss Me” began to pick up thousands of streams, “but no managers and lawyers were reaching out,” Benko says. “I really wanted to take that next step, not just be an artist in my bedroom but someone who’s actually involved with people in the music industry. I didn’t know where to start.”
Instead of hearing from a manager, she received an email from Connor Lawrence, co-founder of the company indify. Lawrence saw signals in data suggesting that Benko had a bright future; the two hopped on a call. “I told him about my story, where I started, where I was now, what I was looking for,” Benko recalls. Lawrence, who has developed deep music-industry connections, set her up on calls with several prospective managers; she eventually signed with Omid Noori, who runs the digital-marketing and management company Against the Grain (ATG).
Tailoring this sort of partnership represents a new phase for indify, which started as an analysis company picking out future stars from streaming and social-media data, and is now focused on creating a new marketplace: a space to connect talented musicians to supporting players — investors, management, marketing, legal representation — while simultaneously bringing a new level of fairness and transparency to deals.
“Often you see that it’s not that the best partners and the best teams are working with the best artists, it’s that the people who reached out first are,” explains Shav Garg, one of indify’s three co-founders, along with his childhood friends Lawrence and Matthew Pavia. “So we want to build a marketplace where if you need managing, funding, a lawyer, you come to indify, put together your team, and ensure that all the contracts are done in a fair and completely artist-friendly way.” Shav notes that there’s a “massive gap” between fresh artists and the rest of the industry, with many newcomers having to resort to methods like spamming executives with Instagram DMs to get noticed.
indify’s pivot has been years in the making, but it is still well-timed: There have probably never been as many people chattering publicly about making a more equitable music industry as there are today. This includes high-profile artists like Meek Mill and Kanye West, who recently launched a sustained attack on unfair music-business practices on Twitter.
The company is providing the “infrastructure to rebuild the [music] industry in a way that a lot of people have been talking about for a long time,” says Alexis Ohanian, a Reddit co-founder who now invests in artists through indify and is an investor in the platform as well. And, crucially, “the people who would have the most leverage in this new model are the artists.”
In addition to finding management for Benko, indify has already helped the singer-songwriter Kirby raise money to cover recording costs for an EP, and connected BMW Kenny to ATG’s digital-marketing wing, which helped Kenny’s song “Wipe It Down” soundtrack more than 3.8 million videos on TikTok. Artists and those supporting players interested in helping artists can apply to join the platform; once accepted, an investor, manager, or distributor can make offers to artists directly through indify.
Record-industry contracts are notoriously long, dense, and unfriendly to artists, but on indify, they involve just four terms: “The amount of money that goes to the artists, the content that’s being licensed, how many years it’s being licensed for, and the percentages that go to the artist until recoupment and after,” Shav says. “The three rules are, ‘There are only 50/50 splits or better for the artist, they retain ownership of the masters, and artists get creative control.'”
“indify is changing the norm for the way a deal is supposed to look,” says Josh Feshbach, who manages the singer Pink Sweat$, along with Kirby.
Both Kirby and BMW Kenny were able to repay their investors within six months, just thanks to streaming income. That has fueled indify’s efforts as the company actively tailors more partnerships. “I didn’t know how to take that next step and actually start my career,” Benko says. “indify is this bridge between bedroom artists and the music industry.”
“It gives an artist another path,” adds Karl Fowlkes, a music-industry lawyer who has found multiple clients through indify — “a path that no one had before.”