Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here with the final 2015 edition of my interview column, Hoodie Highlights! Wrapping up what has been a really fun series of discussions throughout the year, I’m chatting with another do-er of all the things, Christian Blunda of Groupees! Read on to learn a bit about the organization behind all of the magical music & gaming bundles. Enjoy!
Hoodie: Heya Christian! Welcome to the blog! =)
To start things off, could you give us a quick rundown of who you are and what you’re about?
Christian: Yes! Thanks for having me. I’m Christian, the Music Director at Groupees. I work with artists, labels, managers, and curators (like you!) to organize fun music + charity bundle campaigns. It’s fun.
Hoodie: Direct *ALL* the things! Definitely fun.
How did you personally become involved doing such for Groupees? For that matter, how did Groupees become this thing with all the things?
Christian: We started as a small team in Portland, OR with some ideas. We wanted to create a new way to discover, buy, sell, and share the stuff we love (games, music, comics, ebooks, film) that was actually fun. So we started building the Groupees platform, then added some people in Kiev, UK, and Netherlands, and here we are.
Hoodie: So you’ve been involved since it started up. Very cool!
Hoodie: I do like how both the Groupees team itself and platform are geared internationally. Music and gaming are worldwide passions and interests. It makes all the sense to aim for such, especially with the internet on your side!
Christian: We want the platform to bring people together. So it only makes sense to strive to be totally global.
Hoodie: Absolutely. I think too many folk miss that nowadays with their projects. Glad to see y’all don’t. =)
While y’all feature many different genres and styles of music, you pretty regularly offer VGM & chiptune bundles. Why is that in particular?
Christian: We started off with music and gravitated toward games, always striving to feature many styles of both mediums. The gaming and music worlds overlap in many ways, and VGM & Chiptune are obvious places where that occurs. So bundling those styles has been a fun way to connect the gamers and music fans at Groupees. Connecting people and building a community is one of our core values.
Also because we are fans! I had a friend who did a chiptune project called Tugboat where he dressed in a Star Trek uniform and played drums along to some incredible nostalgic chiptune pop songs, which got me into listening to some classic game themes. I then got turned onto 8bit Peoples, and the Kraftwerk tribute album, which I loved. Then I discovered Random and Fantomenk, my all time favorite 8bit artists.
Hoodie: Oh man. Please tell Tugboat to come to MAGFest. Chipspace is waiting for him! hahaha
Christian: haha. It’s been over ten years. But I’ll try to track him down.
Hoodie: That’s long enough to have a reunion show. ;)
Need to get you out to MAGFest at some point as well!
Christian: I’d love to. It’s in Baltimore right? I’m from the DC area. I’ll make the trip back one year. And say hi to my mom.
Hoodie: Sounds like a plan to me!
Getting back on topic (not that MAGFest is too far off of such ;), those are pretty great reasons to do a thing! And yeah, the connection between gaming and music is much stronger than I think most people recognize (okay, so we’re back on MAG again #Ooops :3 ). I’m always happy to see that connection made and expounded upon. It definitely works for y’all. =)
Another thing I’ve always appreciated about your bundled offerings are the charity focus. Anything in particular prompt that move?
Christian: Well, like I mentioned, when we built the platform we wanted to create something new. The experience of ‘the digital download’ is quite boring, and piracy has been a big issue with digital media. The difference between illegally downloading an album (click a button, get album) and buying it from a popular marketplace like iTunes (click a button, pay money, get album) isn’t much. So we wanted to make the experience fun, social, exciting. So we asked ourselves what would be cool to add to the exchange and charity seemed like a great idea to us.
Hoodie: Makes sense. As cool as it is to purchase an awesome bundle, it’s even cooler when there’s a bit more to it; someone benefiting beyond the immediate parties involved.
And y’all definitely have a really cool community happening in & around Groupees itself. Have realized this a bit more each time I’ve participated in projects, particularly with the one we’re curating. It’s fun stuff!
Hoodie: What’s been the biggest challenge for Groupees so far? Biggest surprise?
Christian: We’re a small team, so there are many challenges, with everyone playing several roles. Reaching new audiences is probably the greatest challenge of all. Anyone who’s started small on a new project can relate I’m sure.
Hoodie: -raises hand; waves it around wildly-
Christian: It’s always a pleasant surprise when you step back and realize how many people you have reached, and at over 500,000 registered users, we’re really proud of the community Groupees has developed so far.
Hoodie: What keeps you going? It’s a big project, with a LOT to do. This can be trying! What keeps your motivated and inspired?
Christian: A big advantage of being a small startup is that you can make changes quickly. When someone at Groupees has a new idea we think is cool, we say ‘screw it, let’s do it!’. The excitement of being able to improvise and be creative is what keeps us going. That, and when we have a really great campaign and realize how happy it makes everyone involved – the artists, the buyers, the curators, the charities, and us!
Hoodie: Any fun side projects, musical endeavors, etc you’re personally involved in outside of Groupees that you’d like to talk about?
Christian: Heck yeah. I play in a party-punk band called Mean Jeans and a pop rock band called Patsy’s Rats here in Portland. Groupees is cool because I can work on it from pretty much anywhere, as my coworkers and the people I work with are spread out all over. So I can be on the road with my bands and organizing bundles all at once. Life is cool.
Hoodie: Life is cool.
Any final words to our readers before we wrap this up?
Christian: Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook/Twitter to stay in tune with the campaigns we’re running. When you see an artist, game, or theme you like, you’re sure to get an awesome deal, discover something new, support independent artists, charity, and have fun doing it. What else could you possibly want?
Hoodie: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Christian! And, of course, thanks again for the opportunity to work with y’all via our bundle. It’s been a real blast!
Christian: Thank you man! We’re working and we’re having fun at the same time. That’s the dream. ;)