The heartbeat of today’s creator economy lies in the intricate dance between creators, their teams, and brands. David Hartley, CEO and Co-Founder of Rosters by SoundSmith, deeply understands this symbiotic relationship. “Our primary aim,” Hartley emphasizes, “is to simplify and streamline the workflow for creators and agencies interacting with brands.”
David Hartley’s journey in the creator economy began with a spark of inspiration back in 2020. Having worked at SoundCloud in the U.S., his return to Australia ignited a realization. “Witnessing musicians like Lil Nas X gain immense traction on platforms like TikTok, I was convinced there had to be a structured avenue for musicians to synergize with content creators,” Hartley recalls. This conviction paved the path for a marketplace—a space where creators and musicians could collaborate organically and on demand.
David recounts, “My roommate from my UCLA days Gajan Nagaraj, a talented computer science and electrical engineering major, became the perfect partner in crime for this venture.” Together, over a few months, they fleshed out a marketplace that soon witnessed over 2,000 creators joining.
The platform was designed with individual creators in mind, but soon agencies began flocking to Rosters at a surprising rate. The appeal? Hartley explains, “Unlike other platforms that mandated individual accounts for each creator, Rosters provided a singular account where all creators could be synchronized.” This unexpected discovery hinted at a glaring gap in the market. “Agencies needed streamlined access to data and efficient roster management. We saw this and sensed an opportunity to evolve,” says Hartley.
Empowering the Team Behind the Creator
David Hartley firmly believes that while individual creativity is vital, the collective efforts of a supportive team amplify the creator’s potential exponentially. This sentiment is best captured in the notion of interdependence: “We view the creator economy through a lens of interdependence. An individual creator can certainly carve out a niche for themselves, but their growth and prosperity can skyrocket when they have a solid team backing them. This team, equipped with diverse skills, can handle the business aspects, manage deals, and facilitate the creator’s primary focus: producing content,” explains Hartley.
Rosters’ philosophy centers on the symbiotic relationship between creators and their managing teams. “Our software is fundamentally designed to enhance cash flow for creators. We achieve this by enabling their managers to streamline and optimize commerce processes,” Hartley adds, “We’ve essentially automated this process through our suite of tools.” By integrating multiple APIs, Rosters promises a time-efficient solution, ensuring agencies can focus on more strategic endeavors.
As brands seek suitable creators, the discovery process often becomes a convoluted maze. Rosters brings clarity to this. “The essence is to empower brands with the ability to find the right creators effortlessly,” Hartley notes. With an array of metadata tagging options, brands can narrow down their search across specific nations, regions, or even particular social media platforms. This meticulous approach ensures brands and creators align seamlessly, making collaborations more effective and meaningful.
While agencies play a crucial role in helping creators mold and showcase their brands, doing this at scale is challenging. Hartley’s team addressed this with an efficient and aesthetic solution. “Our media kit templates are not just about showcasing metrics. They encapsulate the creator’s essence, with striking images, dynamic gifs, and highlights from past brand campaigns.” These kits ensure creators stand out, making them memorable to potential brand collaborators.
Hartley paints a vivid picture of a common agency challenge: the constant drive to reach out to brands. The traditional outreach methods, often scattered and disorganized, did not always resonate with brands. “Agencies were previously sharing spreadsheets or inundating brands with multiple links, sometimes missing key details,” he recalls. Rosters’ solution transforms this tedious process. “Our platform allows agencies to select the creators they wish to pitch, and automatically crafts a compelling pitch deck.”
Delving into the specifics of what makes Rosters stand out, Hartley highlights the platform’s commitment to customization and deep data insights. “Our interactions with experienced talent managers have provided us invaluable insights into their workflow challenges. By targeting these pain points, we can offer solutions that save them significant time,” Hartley mentions.
Rosters takes pride in offering more than just surface-level data. While metrics like follower count and likes are standard, Rosters delves deeper. “With Rosters, agencies can access nuanced metrics like average watch rate, engagement rate, share count, and more. Such in-depth data not only facilitates better negotiations with brands but also aids in internal reflection,” explains Hartley, “It’s about communicating effectively with brands and simultaneously introspecting to optimize content strategy based on hard data,”.
Rosters’ Efficiency and Benefits
David emphasizes the efficiency of Rosters by highlighting its ability to automate the majority of data-updating tasks within an agency. “Thanks to our partnerships with major platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch, Rosters seamlessly connects with their APIs. This eliminates the outdated method of manually sending spreadsheets or updating websites with creator data,” Hartley explains.
By leveraging these APIs, Rosters provides agencies with live data that’s always current, effectively replacing spreadsheets, AirTables, Wix websites, PDFs, or Google Sheets. “This automation ensures that the team doesn’t have to constantly monitor and update these data points. It’s all handled in the background,” he adds.
This automation allows agencies to cultivate deeper relationships with their creators, ensuring loyalty and better collaboration. “Manual data entry, though simple, isn’t the most fulfilling task. It detracts talent managers from genuinely connecting with creators,” Hartley mentions.
It also eliminates the hassles associated with outdated media kits. “Many creators use tools like Canva for their media kits. Often, the data in these kits is outdated or based on screenshots provided by the creators. Rosters streamlines this by offering updated data that’s readily accessible, removing the need for graphic designers or constant requests to creators for updated stats,” Hartley explains, “Once agencies integrate with Rosters, a vast majority of their data-related concerns are addressed automatically. This enables talent managers to prioritize meaningful work, enhancing their relationships with creators and brands,” he says.
David emphasizes Rosters’ commitment to data accuracy and reliability. “At Rosters, our software has robust security built in, adhering to industry standards,” he shares. “Our software retrieves fresh data in real-time by making calls to official APIs, ensuring that any data presented is up to date.”
For Hartley, the key is direct communication with these official APIs. “Every time a user loads a page on Rosters, our software communicates with these APIs, ensuring that the data being pulled is the most recent,” he explains. If there’s an issue – for instance, if a creator’s account is banned – the team at Rosters is immediately notified.
For added assurance, users can manually verify data. “If a creator’s data on Rosters doesn’t match their social media accounts, there’s clearly an issue. However, such discrepancies are rare due to our system’s reliability,” Hartley says.
David underlines the importance of up-to-date data for agencies. “Data is power. Having the most recent figures allows agencies to make informed decisions, ensuring that their strategies are based on the latest trends and insights.” Bridging from the significance of real-time data, Hartley’s message about Rosters’ commitment becomes even clearer. “Our primary objective is to help agencies streamline their operations, grow their rosters, and ensure that their data remains confidential. We believe in enabling businesses to flourish independently, providing them with the tools to succeed while stepping back from any potential conflicts of interest,” he concludes.
Rosters’ Customizable Media Kits for Creators
“We’ve designed a template that is simple and clean, allowing creators to easily add their branding elements,” Hartley explains. He then emphasizes that all social data presented on these media kits can be customized. “Creators can choose to display or hide specific social statistics, or even an entire social media platform,” he mentions. The same customization extends to demographics – be it city, country, or gender.
A key aspect of these media kits is to allow creators to express their unique personalities and do it in an engaging way. To this end, Rosters has provided options to incorporate both static images and dynamic content, like GIFs. Hartley elaborates, “The media kit features a beautiful header where creators can display images or GIFs from their content. This adds a dynamic element and gives a taste of the creator’s personality.”
Hartley gives insights into Rosters’ plans for these media kits. “We’re keen on further enhancing the customizability aspect. We’re looking at offering more choices in terms of colors, fonts, and other elements,” he shares. The aim is to create a media kit that truly resonates with a creator’s brand and gives them the flexibility to adjust its components as they see fit.
Pitch Decks: A Revolutionary Tool for Creator Managers
David delves into how Rosters ‘Pitch Decks’ feature is revolutionizing the approach creator managers take towards influencer pitches: “Once you’ve onboarded all of your creators onto Rosters, navigating becomes seamless. Gone are the days of Excel chaos. Now, it’s as simple as initiating a new campaign,” Hartley explained. This system not only streamlines the process but also offers customizability, allowing managers to select and showcase creators relevant to specific campaigns.
Upon crafting a campaign, managers can then generate a distinct version of their roster tailored to the selected creators, making it easier to present to brands: “This action creates a modified version of the original roster, displaying only those creators you’ve handpicked for that campaign.”
One of the standout features of Pitch Decks is its dynamic data: “The data remains dynamic. It’s not static. Even if a brand checks back after some time, they’ll encounter updated stats, ensuring accuracy and relevancy.” This ensures brands always have access to the latest and most relevant information about a creator, allowing for informed decisions.
Furthermore, the platform promotes team collaboration. “With the capability for multiple users, an entire team can operate simultaneously,” Hartley mentioned. This means teams can work in tandem, fostering synergy and unified decision-making.
Brands interested in a particular creator can delve deeper, with a single click leading them to a comprehensive media kit for that creator. “When a brand explores a specific creator from the pitch deck, they’re redirected to that creator’s media kit, teeming with fresh data and insights,” added Hartley.
Roster’s Evolution: From Labels and Artists to Agencies
David shared insights into the company’s journey, highlighting the significant shift in their strategy as they transitioned from working primarily with labels and artists to partnering with agencies in the creator economy.
“The creator economy is ever-evolving,” Hartley began, “It’s paramount to listen intently, always having your finger on the pulse of what’s happening.” While challenges are an inherent part of any evolving landscape, Hartley believes in the necessity to “stay ahead of the curve” to succeed.
However, more than just understanding the challenges, Hartley pinpoints the essence of building genuine relationships as a cornerstone of Rosters’ approach: “In this journey, we’ve recognized the immense importance of building and nurturing relationships. When working with entities and managers, it’s crucial to be a resource, extending beyond just our software offerings.”
Highlighting their commitment, Hartley shared the initiative Rosters took in releasing a “mental health toolkit.” This resource is designed to guide conversations around mental health with creatives, an essential aspect that is often overlooked. “If you truly wish to cultivate a meaningful relationship with your talent and demonstrate genuine care, these conversations are indispensable,” Hartley expressed.
Furthermore, Rosters actively empowers talent managers and agencies, focusing on creating value rather than just profiting. “We consistently release resources on various aspects, from effective outreach techniques to sharing insights from talent manager interviews,” Hartley shared. The primary goal, according to him, is to help creators get adequately compensated and provide agencies with the tools they need to thrive.
Hartley summarized Rosters’ philosophy: “Our focus is on genuinely assisting people and showcasing our commitment and care. It’s about fostering collective growth and ensuring everyone advances together.”
Streamlining Influencer Marketing for Agencies
Rosters has been instrumental in enhancing the influencer marketing efforts of agencies like The Gold Studios. He recounted their success stories, offering a glimpse into how Rosters has revolutionized the creative discovery process for these agencies.
“The Gold Studios, one of the premier agencies in the UK managing over 120 creators, has benefited tremendously from our platform,” Hartley shared. He explained how Rosters has empowered The Gold Studios to land notable campaigns with brands like Shein and Athletic Greens. “The pitch component of our platform has been invaluable for them, particularly in having live data. This has not only enhanced their creative discovery but has also expedited their sales cycles.”
David also delved into how Rosters, while offering a comprehensive view of creators’ socials and past performances, remains uncompromisingly committed to ensuring privacy and data security: “The creators opt into any of the data they wish to provide. We collaborate with all official APIs, ensuring creators are aware of and comfortable with the data we request. Once authenticated, our technology uses industry-standard security protocols, guaranteeing data encryption and protection.”
He emphasized the agency’s meticulous approach to data storage, noting, “Our servers, primarily located in the US, further uphold the safety of this data. Moreover, the control remains firmly in the hands of the creators. They reserve the right to revoke our access at any time – be it post their management tenure or just a change of heart. This freedom to decide what and how they share is crucial, especially when dealing with personal and social data.”
Addressing a concern that’s common among agencies, Hartley clarified, “We’ve encountered agencies wary of how their data might be used. They fear it might be harnessed for alternative purposes or even lead to the potential poaching of their creators based on performance metrics. But our ethos is clear: we don’t manage creators. Our sole purpose is to bolster your business, facilitate growth, and empower your creators. Our business strategy doesn’t deviate from this focus.”
Rosters and the Dawn of a New Creator Economy Era
In the evolving digital landscape, David Hartley envisions a world where the intricate dance between creators, agencies, and brands is choreographed with precision. Central to this vision is the unrelenting power of data: “Data is just going to become increasingly important in the sort of conversations that agencies have with brands,” Hartley passionately elaborates. With Rosters, he sees an avenue where agencies can seamlessly manage their creators, ushering in a new age of streamlined operations from the outset to the culmination of campaigns.
Beyond efficiency, there’s an undeniable emphasis on the sanctity of trust. “The creator economy is going to be most fruitful when the teams behind creators are empowered, and the creatives themselves are empowered,” Hartley asserts. He believes in a world where transparency reigns supreme – from brands being clear about collaboration terms to creators having real-time insight into pending deals and campaign pitches.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
David paints a vibrant picture of the upcoming shifts and how Rosters intends to adapt, harness, and pioneer in the evolving space.
“For one, I’m deeply intrigued by the role of advanced technologies like language models in streamlining communications,” says Hartley. He envisions a future where mundane email interactions can be automated, allowing for a richer and more efficient conversation.
However, Hartley’s vision isn’t merely technological. It’s deeply rooted in a profound understanding of how creators shape the zeitgeist. “The next generation of brands will be powered by individual creators,” he asserts. “They aren’t just influencers but brands in their own right, spinning out products and reshaping consumer expectations.”
As brands continue to collaborate with creators, there’s an inevitable quest for authenticity. Hartley keenly observes the underlying tension between promoting a brand and staying true to one’s values. His solution? “Long-term partnerships between creators and brands,” he suggests. Such collaborations not only provide a sustainable income for creators but also resonate authenticity. “You’re sticking to a product, emphasizing what aligns with your values,” says David.
Hartley ends with a clarion call for collaboration. He ardently believes in an “interdependent creator” – a creator surrounded by a skilled team that amplifies their potential. “The creator economy’s maturation will hinge on collaboration. Those creators who harness the collective expertise of a team, rather than going at it solo, are poised for greater success,” he concludes.
Roster’s Vision for the Future: Personalization and Enhanced CRM
“We’re intensely focused on the customizability of Roster,” Hartley begins. He elaborates on the critical importance of personalizing media kits to align closely with a specific brand’s image. “We want the software to resonate with the agency’s brand, making it feel deeply personal.”
But Roster’s ambitions don’t stop at mere customization. Hartley reveals their next big step: “We’re eyeing a pivot towards an influencer-centric CRM space.” The goal? To empower agencies with tools that streamline every phase of their campaigns. From the initial brand pitches to ensuring smooth communication once a campaign is secured, Hartley envisions a unified platform that manages it all. “Agencies can track a campaign’s progress, from the draft submissions to the finalized content, ensuring seamless communication across all stakeholders,” he explains.
With these initiatives on the horizon, Roster seems poised to offer agencies a tool that’s not just functional, but also deeply tailored to their unique needs and branding.