Startups come in the form of many ideas, industries, and innovations. Many of the common types of startups include fintech, apps, healthcare, and tech. The Post Office Sound, located in Liberty Village, doesn’t exactly fall under any of the standard categories. They are making their mark (or in this case sound) in the music production business. We caught up with Chris Martin, owner, founder and executive producer of The Post Office Sound. It is a good thing the word “Sound” is in their company name as they have been mistaken for a mail depot many times.
Chris provided some very profound, personal and encouraging words.
Q: What was the inspiration for The Post Office Inc.?
A: From the moment I was introduced to it in grade 10 tech, I fell in love with creating music with computers. As a hobby, I found it extremely cathartic.
Eventually, through some friends, I found a way to make money doing it, composing music for TV commercials. After some time freelancing for other companies, and some success, I realized I wanted to leave my 9-5 and pursue it more aggressively. I also saw a way to do things a bit differently than I had experienced them being done, working for other traditional agencies, and this first thing I realized after deciding all this, was that I needed a home for the community I was planning on building and I needed clients to take me seriously. So with a lot of help and effort, and the same amount of luck, I was able build out The Post Office in Liberty Village.
Q: What were some of the challenges that you have been faced with?
A: I’ve faced a lot with my team in getting here. When you start out and put everything you have into establishing something, it leaves you pretty vulnerable and a bit on the edge. Any missteps, and everything can come crashing down.
When first setting up, I leased and started building out a facility in a space on Spadina, in Chinatown, that was sold out from under me shortly after. I was told to leave as a result of this outside transaction, and ended up having to fight for proper compensation in a lease agreement lawsuit that held up my start-up funds and the start date of my shop by 6 months. In the end, we won, but it was a huge setback.
We’ve had delinquent clients who don’t pay for months, which, when you’re starting out and your bills are monthly, can really put you in a bad place.
Also, our 3rd year in, when we were just starting to become comfortably profitable, the property tax in our neighbourhood went up considerably, and my building passed it down to us through our TMI’s, hiking our rent up by close to $2,000 more per month, and setting us back quite a bit of progression. I’ve had equipment malfunction weeks after the warranty expired… all kinds of stuff.
You just have to be resourceful, keep your eyes on the target, and keep chugging along.
Q: What resources have helped you succeed that any startup should consider?
A: Savings, family, credit cards, determination, and faith.
At the start, there’s a lot going on, and you can dig a bit of a hole trying to get things going. The initial investment of building a proper recording and mixing facility is a costly one, and in my case, I really didn’t have a lot to work with. So, I had to stay mindful to be as resourceful as I could, so I didn’t dig a hole I couldn’t get myself out of.
I did things like hire the best studio designer and contractor around, but then didn’t hire their staff, and did the labour, under them, myself with my friends.
The banks aren’t generally interested in giving a young guy a substantial business loan to build a recording studio lol, and I didn’t seem to qualify for any grants for one reason or another. So the resources that enabled all of this have always come from within my direct community. Without my family and friends, and a lot of resourcefulness and hard work, this place simply would not be… that and Visa.
Q: How do you keep yourself and your team motivated?
A: That’s one thing we don’t seem to have much trouble with. Everyone on the team, is here because they love what they do, and because they’re extremely good at what they do. We also engage heavily with our creative community. There’s a lot of give and take between the creatives we employ and the independent creatives in the music industry here. We established a symbiotic system where we have somehow meshed artists, brands, post production, and immersive technology research and development into a mutually beneficial upward spiral of content development.
That coupled with the fact that we are boutique, means we can be really selective with the projects and partners we take on. The entire team has a hand in choosing the culture of the company, the clients we engage with, the jobs we engage on, and how we approach it all, so the team as a whole, are excited and interested about everything we put our time into. In the last few years we’ve hit a great stride within VR audio space, and the team have had the opportunity to continually dive deep into cutting edge sound design work, which we are all really passionate about. That is what keeps us all engaged… pushing the frontier.
…be resourceful, keep your eyes on the target, and keep chugging along. -Chris Martin
Q: Name some of your great accomplishments?
A: We have had some great wins as a team. Starting out, breaking into a new industry, packed with existing and long-standing relationships, trying to sway clients over to your service is a tough grind. We’ve been underdogs on more job pitches than I can count, and a lot of them have went our way due to the strength of the community that call our place home. I’d say that that’s one of the biggest accomplishments here. Just the fact we are here based on cultivating a thriving community of busy creative and technical explorers. That’s a pretty great feeling.
This pioneering has allowed us to collaborate with some huge brands and artists that we really are proud to have worked with, such as; Chance the Rapper, David Cronenberg, VICE, The Toronto Raptors, JRDN, Nike, Samsung and tons more.
I’m extremely proud of the developments we’ve made within VR audio, and the jobs and clients we’ve been lucky enough to work with in that space.
We’ve also helped catapult talented artists careers through our work with Team Back Pack, such as John River. And we’ve developed a number of acts for Universal and so on… I dunno, it’s mainly just the community.
Q: If you didn’t open The Post Office Sound, what do you think you would be doing?
A: Before this, I was working PR at a few life style brand agencies. If I hadn’t done this, I’d probably be working at an advertising or marketing agency, or for a creative house, somewhere in the art direction realm. That’s always something I’ve been deeply interested in, and as of recent, a few part time/consultant type opportunities have been present, and I’m mulling them over… so who knows.
Q: What is some of the best advice you have ever been given? And what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs and startups?
Keep Going – Chris Martin
That’s the biggest thing. You can’t give up on your dream. Once you start this path, if you want to see success, you have to keep going. Keep refining, keep growing, and advancing. One day you’ll look back and be shocked at how far you come and how much things have evolved.