Meet The Disruptors: Baxter Brown Of Muze On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
9 min readDec 2, 2023

--

Embrace Transparency and Community: Foster a culture of transparency and community. In the music industry, opaque processes can hinder progress. Muze encourages openness, connecting users transparently and creating a supportive community. This principle is transferable to any sector where trust and collaboration matter.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Baxter Brown.

Hailing from San Francisco, Muze’s Baxter Brown always wished for a better way to meet collaborators in the Bay Area music scene. In 2019, he created his own way by launching Muze, the “dating app for musicians” designed to lead artists toward more fruitful collaborations. Through Muze, Brown fuses his passion for music with an ever-expanding tech industry experience, having performed work for prominent startups including Slack, Pinterest, Mozilla, Twitch, Oracle, Udemy, and others. He has earned his B.A.Sc in Audio Engineering from Expression College, graduating in 2016 at 19 years old and currently resides in the busy music town of Nashville, TN.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Thank you for having me! My journey into the music industry began at the age of 16 when I immersed myself in the vibrant music scene of the San Francisco Bay Area. As I pursued my education in audio engineering, I found myself deeply involved in producing and engineering music after graduation.

Despite my extensive network, I faced a common challenge — finding the right collaborators for specific projects was a time-consuming process. Networking, essential as it was, was consuming more time than I could afford. Recognizing the inefficiency in this process, I saw an opportunity to leverage my expertise and address a widespread issue.

Drawing inspiration from lessons learned in the Silicon Valley startup scene, I founded Muze. My vision was to streamline the collaboration process in the music industry, transcending geographical limitations and connecting musicians seamlessly. Muze evolved beyond its initial concept of connecting musicians and bands, transforming into a comprehensive platform that empowers artists to connect, collaborate, and access essential services. It’s been a rewarding journey, blending my passion for music with the principles of innovation and scalability.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Absolutely. What makes our work truly disruptive at Muze is our commitment to breaking down the traditional barriers in the music industry. We’ve redefined how musicians find collaborators by providing a platform that not only allows users to discover and connect with band members for free but goes beyond geographical constraints.

In the past, musicians often faced the challenge of finding the right collaborators locally. Muze changed this dynamic. We enable users to connect with like-minded musicians globally, transcending geographical limitations and providing access to a vast pool of talent. This disruption is particularly relevant in the post-COVID-19 landscape where the music industry underwent significant shifts.

With the global shutdown, many music industry professionals dispersed, seeking sustainable income and work opportunities online. Muze became a crucial bridge, connecting professionals with the right teams worldwide, fostering collaboration despite physical distances. Our platform empowers artists to build diverse teams, enhancing creativity and innovation in music projects.

By offering free access to finding band members and collaborators, we’ve democratized the collaboration process in the music industry. Muze is more than just a tool; it’s a community centered in collaboration, allowing musicians to focus on what truly matters — creating exceptional music.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Launching Muze during a global pandemic came with its fair share of unexpected twists, and one of the funniest mistakes I made was the timing of our initial launch. Picture this: it’s spring 2020, and we’re gearing up to be the “Tinder for Musicians” right as the world decided it was time for everyone to become homebodies.

In retrospect, the timing was impeccable, in the worst possible way. I learned that even the most well-thought-out plans can be upended by global events beyond our control. The lesson? When life hands you a pandemic, you pivot. We shifted our focus from immediate in-person connections to addressing the evolving needs of a music industry adapting to remote collaboration.

While the world was perfecting their Zoom backgrounds and rediscovering the joy of sweatpants, our “Tinder for Musicians” idea needed a remix. Embracing the unexpected has become a guiding principle at Muze, proving that adaptability, coupled with a good laugh, is the secret sauce in any disruptive journey.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

In this dynamic journey, mentors play a pivotal role, and I’ve been fortunate to have the guidance of someone truly remarkable: Marty Wheeler. With over 30 years of executive experience in the music business, Marty has not only mentored me but served as a compass, navigating the nuanced landscape of the Nashville music industry. His insights have been instrumental, providing not just business acumen but a profound understanding of our creative vision and the goals we’ve set for Muze.

One instance that stands out is when Marty shared insights on my goal-setting strategies for Muze. His wisdom, honed through years of executive roles in major music publishing companies and navigating complex catalog transactions, provided invaluable jumping-off points for our venture. Marty’s advice wasn’t just about business; it was about understanding the pulse of the industry, setting realistic yet ambitious goals, and, above all, staying true to the essence of our creative vision.

In the intricate dance of entrepreneurship, having a mentor like Marty has been a privilege. His influence echoes in every strategic move and decision we make at Muze.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption, in today’s context, is often viewed as a positive force, and rightly so. In dynamic industries like music, disruption becomes a catalyst for positive change, especially when traditional structures struggle to meet evolving needs. The music industry, in particular, is ripe for disruption. While time-tested methods have their merits, they can’t fully address the transformative shifts we’re witnessing.

The key lies in understanding when disruption is positive and when it’s not. Positive disruption occurs when it challenges outdated norms, opens new avenues, and democratizes access. Take the music industry, for example. The traditional model, centered around in-person collaboration, has its undeniable charm, but it’s limited in scope. That system has “withstood the test of time,” but time has also revealed its constraints.

Muze doesn’t seek to replace the magic of in-person collaboration; instead, we enhance it. We recognize the value of shared studios and late-night jam sessions. Still, we also acknowledge the global dispersion of talent and the need for a platform that seamlessly connects you with the right collaborators in a world where there is so much noise. Positive disruption, in our case, is about preserving the essence of collaboration while adapting to the changing dynamics of the music industry. It’s about augmenting tradition, not replacing it.

An industry that withstands the test of time should also be adaptable, embracing positive disruption to stay relevant and inclusive. We’re on a mission to disrupt the barriers that limit collaboration, making the music industry more accessible and vibrant than ever.

Can you please share 5 ideas one needs to shake up their industry? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Prioritize User Experience: Shift the focus to user experience. Our approach at Muze involves continual refinement based on user feedback. It’s not just about what we offer, but how accessible and intuitive it is for our users. This emphasis on UX can be a game-changer in any industry.
  2. Embrace Transparency and Community: Foster a culture of transparency and community. In the music industry, opaque processes can hinder progress. Muze encourages openness, connecting users transparently and creating a supportive community. This principle is transferable to any sector where trust and collaboration matter.
  3. Promote Sustainable Practices: Challenge conventional practices and champion sustainability. In the music industry, we’re committed to a fair commission model that reinvests in our community. This ethos can be applied elsewhere by reevaluating profit models for sustainability and shared growth.
  4. Get Creative With Technology: Recognize industry pain points and leverage technology to facilitate solutions. At Muze, we observed the challenge of connecting musicians and industry professionals. By creating a seamless platform, we’ve not only disrupted but enhanced how artists collaborate.
  5. Adapting to Global Trends: Embrace global trends and leverage technology to ensure continuity in the face of unexpected challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift in the music industry, prompting Muze to adapt to the changing landscape. Our platform facilitates global collaboration, allowing artists and professionals to connect and work seamlessly regardless of geographical barriers.

Remember, disruptive ideas often stem from addressing real-world challenges. In paving the way for change, consider the unique needs of your industry and the broader impact on communities.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Indeed, we are far from done. Our journey is just hitting its crescendo, and we’re excited about what lies ahead. While I can’t unveil all the details just yet, rest assured, Muze is gearing up to shake things up in ways that will resonate with creatives around the world.

We’re currently exploring new horizons, validating ideas, and crafting innovations that will further empower our community. Without divulging too much, I can tease that we’re delving into the realm of tools designed to elevate the way creatives collaborate and create.

As always, the heart of Muze beats to the rhythm of innovation, and we can’t wait to share what we’re cooking up. We’ll be sure to share the next movement in our disruptive symphony.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

Absolutely, staying abreast of evolving trends is paramount, and one book that profoundly influenced my perspective on the future of platforms is “Platform Revolution” by Geoffrey Parker. Early on, as I was shaping the vision for Muze, this book proved instrumental in validating our approach.

Parker’s insights into the transformative power of platform economies resonated deeply. The book not only illuminated the mechanics of successful platforms but also underscored the pivotal role they play in shaping industries. It was a catalyst for understanding the dynamics of collaboration, connectivity, and how platforms could revolutionize traditional models.

For me, the resonant power of “Platform Revolution” lies in its ability to navigate the complex landscape of the digital era. It served as a guiding light, reinforcing the idea that disruptive innovation requires a keen understanding of platform dynamics.

I will note that as a disruptor, the journey is perpetual, and soaking in knowledge from such sources becomes indispensable. The world is in constant flux, and as leaders in this transformative era, we must be avid learners, always seeking the next nugget of wisdom that propels us forward.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One life lesson quote that has deeply resonated with me, especially in the world of entrepreneurship, is by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

In the dynamic realm of innovation, waiting for perfection often means missing the wave of opportunity. It’s a reminder that as disruptors, our mindset should be rooted in action. Launching early, even if it means a touch of embarrassment, is a testament to our commitment to iteration and improvement. It’s the principle that failing fast and learning swiftly is a more powerful driver of success than waiting for flawless perfection. This quote has been a guiding light, pushing me to embrace imperfections as a stepping stone toward progress and excellence.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

If I could spark a movement, it would be all about unleashing the creative spirit within everyone. Imagine a world where every individual has the knowledge and tools to express their unique message, especially through the universal language of music. Picture jam sessions echoing through communities, art exhibitions on every street corner, and the shared joy of creativity connecting us all.

It’s a two-way street. Not only does this movement empower individuals to find their creative voice, but it also champions the support of local artists. Building bridges between neighbors and creatives, we’d discover the wealth of talent in our own backyards, fostering a vibrant tapestry of artistic expression.

How can our readers follow you online?

The best way is to check out our LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/muzeofficial

I read every message we get in every day, as I love to welcome people in!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

--

--