Brandyn Armstrong is CEO, founder, and inventor of the Studio Stick, a device that allows artists—musicians, podcasters, lecturers, book recorders and others—to record their songs/ideas at the moment they’re inspired while giving them a full mobile recording studio experience.
Recently, Armstrong pitched his product on Steve Harvey’s Funderdome. Brandon Andrews of Values Partnerships sat down with Armstrong for an interview.
With a small upfront fee, the artist can then record high-quality audio whenever they want, and wherever they want. With some professional studios cost hundreds of dollars per hour, the Studio Stick could be the ideal solution to solving the problems of expensive studio costs.
(The Studio Stick. Image: Studio Stick)
Brandon Andrews: At their core, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. Tell us how Studio Stick solves the problem of expensive studio sessions for emerging artists.
Brandyn Armstrong: The Studio Stick allows artists—musicians, podcasters, lecturers, book recorders and others—to record their songs/ideas at the moment they’re inspired while giving them a full mobile recording studio experience.
With one small upfront cost of $299, the artist can then record high-quality audio whenever they want, and wherever they want. With the cost of some professional studios costing hundreds of dollars per hour, and even in-house basement studios costing about $50 per hour, the Studio Stick would really be the ideal solution to solving the problems of expensive studio costs.
There has been a lot of talk about empowering independent artists in recent years. How does Studio Stick help artists like you take control of their careers?
With our mobile app that is used in conjunction with the Studio Stick, users will have the option to distribute their own songs, which will give them the ability to be in control; track sales and royalties that they receive from the sales. Many artists, especially African American artists, have been taken advantage of by corrupt managers in the music industry. Once artists begin to become equipped with more knowledge of how to do things on their own, such as distribute and collect royalties, they will then begin to lower the risk that they have in artist management and being taken advantage of.
(The mobile app. Image: Studio Stick)
You created a mobile app and a physical product. Which came first? What tips do you have for entrepreneurs that want to create an app and product?
I thought of both the physical product and app software around the same time but the actual physical product was created first. We created the physical product first because nothing like our physical product had been created before and we had to make sure that it was possible to complete before working on something that we knew could be completed already. We knew the software could be completed because similar recording software that isn’t user-friendly had already been made before. Our job is just to simplify the software in order to make it easy for anyone to use while giving great quality. What also differentiates our app software from others are the features to purchase and sell beats, and the option to distribute.
I feel that as an entrepreneur who wants to create a product or app for your first time, you have to surround yourself with people that are in similar spaces to what you are trying to do. I met so many people just by being in the right places at the right time. By pitching at my first business competition, I won $1,500 for Studio Stick and met my engineer Ron Brengartner Jr. who designed the Studio Stick, and from there, I’ve been on a roll. So I’d recommend you to attend local business competitions, go to business events, set up coffee/lunches with people that you meet that are doing what you want to do, and most importantly, take action. Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream.
How did you feel pitching your business in the Funderdome? How did you prepare for the pitch?
I felt very confident. I knew that I really needed to take full advantage of this opportunity not only for me, but for the children and people from the urban communities that look up to me. I speak to children at schools and events and one thing that I always tell them is “Anything you put your mind to is possible.” I think me just being on the Funderdome showed them that. I went out there and did what I had to do using my city of Cleveland, the youth, and the urban community as my fuel to go out there and set an example.
I prepared by practicing my pitch over and over. I know that practice makes perfect so I made myself as perfect as possible. One of my most important preparations was in my dressing room right before I went out and pitched. In my dressing room, I made a list thanking God for the many things that I was thankful for and I also prayed to him that he gave me the strength and energy to go inside the Funderdome and give it my all.
(Carlos Suarez, Steve Harvey, and Brandyn Armstrong on Funderdome. Image: The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Lisa Rose))
What did you learn from being on the show?
I think that even though I knew that “anything is possible,” the show gave me re-validation of that. I’d been working my ass off to the point where some people even stopped believing in me. Now everyone all of a sudden believes in me again, [laughs]. This show showed me that if you believe in something, then continue to go hard no matter what obstacles come in your way.
How do you plan to grow your business in 2017?
I recently launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign simultaneously to the airing of my episode on Funderdome. With that campaign, people can actually begin to pre-order Studio Sticks. Not only will you just be pre-ordering, you would also be helping me in gaining the rest of the materials needed for me to scale up the Studio Stick brand.
You can check that campaign out now on Kickstarter as it is currently live and taking orders. Just go to kickstarter.com and search Studio Stick. The money that we receive from our Kickstarter earnings will be used to purchase our tools needed for manufacturing, and also allow us to manufacture about 2,000 units.
With everything going as planned, we will be releasing the Studio Stick to the public in the beginning of 2018. You can find out all new updates and get discounts if you subscribe to our mailing list now at www.studiostick.com.
(Steve Harvey and Brandyn Armstrong on Funderdome. Image: The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Lisa Rose))
What do entrepreneurs like you need to succeed?
Entrepreneurs like “me” really need more motivation. When I say entrepreneurs like “me,” I’m referring to that young, African American child from the urban community. Growing up where most children, including myself, lose their fathers to the streets can be tough. I grew up in the ghetto of East Cleveland and it’s a pretty rough city here. It’s kind of hard to find good role models or people who can actually show you a better way of life because a majority of the people here are either currently living the street life or trying to find a better life themselves.
There was a point in my life where I began to lose direction as well. I ended up dropping out of high school to kick it in the streets more but it was only because I was losing motivation and didn’t really have any good role models to look up to. Before high school, I was a straight-A student. That goes to show how anybody no matter how smart you are can get caught up in the wrong things.
Luckily, I ended up getting a spark of realization that I had to get my life back on the right track or I’d end up like most of the older hustlers that are still on the block at the age of 50. It was then that I went to get my GED. After receiving my GED, I then went to Cuyahoga Community College where I received two degrees, one being in business. After graduating, I transferred to Cleveland State, and there I was introduced to the Startup Vikes business competition that changed my life and gave official birth to the Studio Stick.
With that being said, I think entrepreneurs need to know that anything is possible no matter where you are in life. You will always find what you are looking for so if you’re looking for success and hop on the path to it, success will definitely come your way. The recipe to success is to believe, take action, and have faith.
Watch Brandyn pitch Studio Stick on the Season 1 premiere of Steve Harvey’s Funderdome – Sept. 24, 2017, at 9PM ET on ABC.