Just as Quadio launched in March of 2020, the entire world shut down. The brainchild of step-cousins Joe and Marcus Welch, Quadio kicked off its app, a network connecting college musicians to other artists, educational sessions, “meetings” with industry professionals, performance and interactive events, and has continued to expand with a focus on the live streaming side of its platform during more remote times.
As Covid shut most social, in-person elements, Quadio was still in motion with its growing community of 13,000 users from more than 900 participating schools, and retained a foundation to help artists continue to find one another, collaborate, learn, get more exposure, and build their communities.
Originally launched as a beta in early January 2020, the co-founders, along with chief growth officer, Miranda Martell, initially planned a multidimensional launch centered around live events in college towns across the U.S., which was set to go live on March 16. When everything closed down, the team regrouped and reworked the platform keeping its established events and educational sessions intact through more virtual settings.
Moving ahead into 2021, the latest version, loosely named “Quadio 2.0,” will expand its digital functionality to offer more remote connectivity.
“As we started rolling it out and getting people onto the platform, we started realizing that, especially in a time of pandemic and remote everything, people were craving the social aspect of what we were delivering more than the streaming parts of the platform,” says Marcus Welch. “We’re working on more features that speak to that, allowing people to connect more organically and find collaborators remotely as well as locally once that becomes safe again.”
College town events still remain an important part of Quadio’s ecosystem, and its educational programs, including the Songwriters Clubs, which has even stretched into some high schools, Open Mic Nights, and a recent Winter Songwriter Retreat, which was held via Zoom for 200 participants, have expanded since last March.
Part of the new platform also welcomes more creatives into Quadio’s “club” settings, opening the space around music and performance to writers, poets, videographers, photographers and other artists to also connect.
“I think people have gotten so much more comfortable being on Zoom for long periods of time and doing all kinds of work there, so we’ve seen many of our collaboration stories not taking place locally at all,” says Welch. “For a while, location filtering, specifically around your school and around your state was a big focus for us, but that didn’t really matter as soon as the pandemic hit. While there are definitely creative outlets where local is important like photography or videography, finding collaborators across the world is totally doable as well, and we want to facilitate that.”
On the educational front, Profesh Sesh also exposes artists to one-on-one conversations with industry professionals who can offer a deeper insight into the music business. Last October, Quadio kicked off the series with Dave Rene, former executive vice president of A&R at Interscope Records and founder of independent creative record label No Tricks, and recently pulled in Wyclef Jean, along with his manager Madeline Nelson for the virtual session.
“I think the one thing we’ve seen, especially in music is that you don’t necessarily need to be local to be a great collaborator,” says Welch. “We have a lot of functionality in the platform that really allows people to collaborate over long distances. Whether you’re looking for a drummer or lyricist, or anything like that, you can find that in your state or in your school.”
Along with its community and educational base, August 2020 also saw the launch of Quadio Records, a label led by A & R veteran Abir Hossain, offering a full management service and artists relations team. Under a partnership with Sony’s Disruptor Records, Quadio has taken on six artists, including Dasha, Talia, Zack Cokas, Rightfield, Healer, and Hannah Hausman, and will continue to release more singles into 2021.
Moving ahead, once everything opens around more social setting, users have already started dreaming up summer camps and other programs for Quadio to implement.
“So many people are excited about what it could mean once it doesn’t have to be virtual, but I do think there’s an accessibility that comes with its vertical format,” says Martell. “We had people like Wyclef join us, and all these amazing professional coming in and being so generous with their time that I think it’s a scalable way for us to offer those moments to people everywhere. It’s only going to continue to grow in the virtual realm, and in real life.”
Quadio is also experimenting with a bootcamp format, featuring workshop-style sessions and already have a waitlist for the next one, following a pilot version they tested several months ago. “We’re taking this adventure into more experiential learning,” says Martell, who adds that Quadio has also partnered with Belmont University for a class, along with conferences, panels and more partnerships moving ahead. By March 2021, Quadio is also working on a Music Madness competition, which will pit schools against one another for more artist exposure.
“So many people are missing that tradition, so we’ve been looking at different performance opportunities, a place to discover or share new music, which was the genesis of the open mic format,” says Martell. “It’s going to get bigger and bigger, and as we will expand into other mediums. There’s more to come on the education front. Our strategy throughout this entire pandemic experience has been to try to maintain some level of normalcy and tradition for as much of our community as we can.”
Martell says that flexibility is always key in Quadio’s functionality and engagement. “We’ve been able to accomplish a whole lot with the team around what we can do for these artists, and with every success, comes more attention to that side of the business,” she says. “We are small, but we are mighty, .”