· By Sarah Frye
Matej Harangozo, Founder of Digital Science Media Featured in ideamensch.com
Our Founder, Matej Harangozo was recently featured in an article by ideamensch.com.
In this article, Matej discusses his roots and background before he entered the music industry, plans for the future, and some general Q&A.
View the beginning excerpt of the article below:
Matej Harangozo is an award winning entrepreneur, music enthusiast, and innovative technologist. He is a driver of disruption with a track record of developing cutting-edge platforms and automation protocols.
He built a company “greenNEWit” from the ground up — starting with 0% credit cards to 50-plus employees and $5 million per year in revenue at its peak. During the same time, he bought and scaled an international franchise that employed another 35-plus youth employees in the Baltimore area. A serial entrepreneur and web/software systems visionary, he is currently co-owner and managing partner of Codaemon, an e-commerce solutions provider.
Recently, Harangozo made the pivot to something he is really passionate about: music. It is an industry he dreamt of being in ever since he was in high school. Through his quest to help independent artists, producers, DJs, and influencers get noticed, he created Open Source Entertainment, a record label and music business incubator, and Digital Science Media, its digital marketing arm. These two organizations are disrupting the music industry — representing breakout artists including Hello Sister, China Mac, the gospel record label Black Smoke Music, and many others under the hip hop industry legend Wendy Day to name a few.
Once recognized by the SBA as a Maryland Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Harangozo lectures at college universities and is a keynote speaker for TEDx and the Musician Mastery Summit. His companies have been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Baltimore Sun.
Harangozo’s unique upbringing in Eastern Europe and as a US immigrant has shaped his unique outlook on business, innovation, history, and culture. These attributes are the drivers behind his success and will continue to guide his principles and future endeavours. He resides in Hanover, Maryland with his girlfriend Courtney and their two dogs.
Where did the idea for Digital Science Media come from?
In 2012, I had my first townhouse and this was right around the time when I moved out of my mom’s house. This was during the early days of our startup, greeNEWit. I spent a lot of money on studio equipment so I decided to turn it into a company and came up with the name “Open Source Entertainment”. To this day, I remain a big fan of the open source mentality when it comes to software development. At the time, I was also a part of the national building performance institute (BPI) home performance technical committee that worked to define how to collect energy efficiency data and process information between all stakeholders (i.e, power utilities, home lenders, building contractors, appliance companies, etc). There was always the battle between using the open source methodology or something private. The BPI homeperformance.org committee decided to go with a standard that was a quazi (open source / third party tech) solution due to the lobbying and pressure from some of the big companies involved.
Given my experience with open source, I thought it made sense for my new venture to use this methodology. Many of the big name record labels did not practice solid and genuine business practices and created a similar pressure against the independent or DIY artist business model. They did not educate artists on how to maintain a brand that operates like a business, and therefore many artists were getting raked when it came to contracts. So, I figured there had to be a better way of running companies and to show artists how to truly benefit more from their art and all that it was. So, I had this idea of an artist incubator that would use open source methods to teach artists and their teams on how to be successful in the space… sort of my version of a modern ethical record label.
In high school, as a side hustle I started bootlegging CDs. I was the first person at my school to have the very first 1x CD burner. It was 1998 and it was the age of LimeWire and Napster… well before the iPod. The music industry didn’t know how to handle this new trend. In full transparency, a lot of my friends would sell weed on the side to make extra money. I was not a citizen. My mom would always say “Matej you must stay out of trouble or else you will get deported. Don’t do stupid shit.” So, what my friends were doing was not an option for me, but I thought burning CDs was a smarter way to create a solid side hustle. When I moved to America I started listening to hip hop even before I spoke English. My dad was always pissed about curse words and gave me a hard time for it. So, I used my Sony HiFi stereo system (because it could re-loop one to five seconds of a song) and erased the bad words of all of my favorite songs. This allowed me to still listen to the music I wanted when he was around. He never knew.
I also figured out that when you put a high quality headphone into a microphone jack, one of the speakers becomes the microphone. I had some friends who were rappers. I would get some instrumentals, like Madonna instrumental breaks or other songs, and then have my friends rap over it. I always wanted to have a record label. I was — and still am — a big fan of Tupac. He was very dedicated to educating his community and helping people be in business for themselves. I created my own label: Infamous Records. I added that logo to every CD I burned along with the words “Executive Producer Matej”. And of course this was using all cash money and bling bling fonts [haha]. Needless to say, I was the go to guy if you wanted a mixtape. I would burn the new DMX CD, for example, for $5 a copy. But if you wanted a custom mixtape, that was an extra charge of $10 to $15 a copy. I also dabbled a bit with music software. I got DJ software my senior year and would create simple beats here and there. I ultimately put that on hold as I needed to think more seriously how I could support myself financially, but I always knew one day I would find a way to get into the music industry.
The time that was most instrumental in making the shift was from 2010 to 2011 when I was co-founder of a booming energy startup. I had more money and free time so that allowed me to invest and get into this venture more seriously. I initially spent about $15,000 in studio equipment and set up a recording room in my basement. My girlfriend at the time was a singer and that helped push me into it as well. I taught myself to use pro tools, how to record vocals, how to create instrumentals and so on.
Now — fast forward to 2020 — through Open Source Entertainment and Digital Science Media we are helping independent artists, producers, DJs, and influencers get noticed all while disrupting the music industry. We support breakout artists including Hello Sister, China Mac, the gospel record label Black Smoke Music, and many others under the hip hop industry legend Wendy Day to name a few.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I have business partners associated with each company I’m involved with, and I meet with them daily. I also have a virtual assistant from MyOutDesk who manages my calendar and a great deal of the day-to-day admin tasks. Early mornings I attend scrum meetings with our team leads and engineers from Codaemon, and I do the same thing with Digital Science Media. I knock that out before 11 am ET. During the day, I am working on business development, doing ops clean up, and then toward the end of the day we circle back and have a final scrum meeting with the project teams and developers. I have a final call with my business partner Tolu from Digital Science Media. He is supporting our full time employees and keeping things running. Any time in between is always reserved for content creation and sales calls. I created the demand for my music business through creating engaging, solid, and valuable content and posting it daily. So, that initiative will never stop. Plus, it’s the most enjoyable aspect of what I do.