Micah Solomon: Creating an Oasis
Micah Solomon is an alumnus who found his place in the music-products and services sector. After nearly 11 years in business, his company, Oasis CD, is one of the largest independent-oriented CD manufacturing facilities in the nation.
Oasis manufactures an average of 62 titles a week for independent recording artists and labels in various genres — jazz, folk, urban, and more. Like most entrepreneurial types, Solomon felt he could create a better product than he saw others making. It should be noted that Solomon’s fortune to be in “the right place at the right time” was directly related to his willingness to change directions to seize an opportunity.
In 1988, several years after he left Berklee where he majored in piano performance, Solomon was working at various temp jobs. He had dreamed of opening a recording studio and maxed out his credit cards after making the decision to invest in recording equipment. “I realize now that doing it with credit cards could have been a disaster if things hadn’t worked out,” he said. “But the studio was successful right off the bat.” After a few years of operating the studio, he found that details beyond his control were affecting the quality of his final product. “We would make great masters and send them off for duplication only to be disappointed with the results we got back,” he said. “It made me start thinking about moving into the duplication business.”
From the beginning, Solomon had his sights set on the national rather than a local market. He had taught himself about business and advertising by reading books and applying what he learned. He had read that many large corporations estimate that up to half of their advertising dollars are spent on efforts that have little impact.
He decided to make each dollar count. “We spent all of our budget on full-page ads so we would appear bigger than we were,” Solomon said. “We didn’t do a bunch of small ads in a lot of places, we bought a few full-page ads in bigger music-trade-publications. After that, we really tracked the responses to learn where our customers were coming from.” Solomon’s calculated risk paid off, and business started pouring in. Soon, word of mouth among his satisfied customers became his best advertising.
One factor enabling Solomon and Oasis CD to attain a profile in the duplication business is his sensitivity to the nonmusical needs of his clients. Oasis offers a range of services to provide artists who produce their own CDs with a final product that both looks and sounds great. In addition to options like single-speed glass mastering for audiophile sound quality, Oasis offers graphic-design services, various packaging options, and items such as bar codes and top-spine stickers that make an indie artist’s CD ready to be sold by retailers.
He also offers to do more than deliver 1,000 or more retail-ready CDs to his clients and wish them luck. For those who don’t know what to do next, Solomon gives his clients a jump-start in marketing and distributing their CDs. Oasis produces CD samplers by genre in the categories of alternative, acoustic, blues, country, world music, rock and roots, and jazz.
The samplers are sent to hundreds of radio stations, and each artist with a song on the CD is provided with a list of stations that received the sampler so that they can follow up. Oasis offers distribution to all of its clients through web-based businesses like CD Baby, BestBuy.com, Super D and download distributors like iTunes, eMusic and many others. CDs by Oasis clients can also be entered in a database that is a resource for many national retailers.
For those who might someday become music products entrepreneurs, Solomon counsels, “Nobody cares more about music than musicians, not fans, nobody. I’ve found that if you deliver a truly great product, musicians will care about your company and will seek you out.”