Patrick Hill: Empowering Indie Musicians and Podcasters

Giving creatives control over the flow of their content

Finding the best way to share your creative content may not be as easy as it sounds, but Patrick Hill wants to ease the process for indie creators.

Hill is the founder of Disctopia, a music platform and streaming service dedicated to indie artists, podcasters, and content creatives. He was inspired to launch the tech platform after building websites for indie musicians looking to distribute their content more efficiently.

Patrick Hill
Patrick Hill.

A Cultivated Mindset

"Streaming is taking over, and it’s a big business now," Hill told Lifewire in a video interview. "We’re learning how to be content creators, and our mission is about empowering creatives whether you make podcasts, beats, or even want to become an independent director."

Disctopia is the flagship product of A Cultivated Mindset, the dev shop that Hill founded in 2011 and now leads as executive director. Officially launched in 2017, Disctopia aims to become the global streaming service for indie creators. The platform operates via a website and a mobile application where users can upload their creative content, sell direct downloads, and collect and split commission-free music royalties. Users can decide if they want to distribute their content for free or charge a fee.  

Quick Facts

  • Name: Patrick Hill
  • Age: 37
  • From: Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Favorite Game to Play: Mario Kart on Nintendo 64
  • Key quote or motto: "Do things the right way. The right way always wins."

From Interest to Passion 

Hill first got interested in technology during high school before earning a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Livingstone College and a master’s degree in information technology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Following his academic tenure, he went to work for Bank of America as a creative web applications consultant for five years. 

"I fell in love with technology in high school, but I learned about Black people in technology during my time at Livingstone," he said. "My entrepreneurial spirit and becoming a Black founder in tech actually came from there, too, because a little hustle of mine was repairing and updating computers on campus for students."

Hill learned about everything from leading meetings to proper email etiquette while working at Bank of America. He said he took those lessons into his leadership at A Cultivated Mindset.

After 10 years of sitting on the idea for Disctopia, he decided to go for it a few years ago when a friend reached out to him for help. That friend was an artist who needed help circulating a new mixtape he recorded, so Hill set him up with a website for people to directly purchase his music. 

Screenshot of the Disctopia site.

Disctopia

"That’s what sparked the energy for Disctopia. I did it for him, and he sold out in a day just from selling to his family members," Hill said. "He made $500 in one day, and that’s when I had the idea, why don’t I just do this for everybody? It started like that."

Hill started out building individual websites for indie artists before upgrading to a full-service streaming platform where creatives could upload their content to get paid.

Disctopia initially targeted musicians, but the platform now is looking to attract more podcasters and, eventually, videographers and filmmakers. There’s also integration in the platform for users to sell their merch and products. 

"You might be the next Issa Rae sitting in her house just coming up with the next web series," Hill said. "We don’t want you to put that on YouTube; we really want you to put that on Disctopia, so you don’t get lost in the sauce and see consistent ads cutting through your creative work."

Taking the Stigma Out of Black Tech

There’s a six-person team behind Disctopia, and Hill said the platform was in beta for three years before taking off in 2020. The team recently rebuilt Disctopia’s mobile app and is releasing a big website update later this month. Disctopia currently has more than 10,000 users, a mix of paid and free, ranging from fans to artists and podcasters. 

"We’re learning how to be content creators, and our mission is about empowering creatives whether you make podcasts, beats, or even want to become an independent director."

One of the main challenges that Hill is working to overcome is convincing the music industry that Disctopia is a worthwhile product. He said he’s pitched to many celebrities in the entertainment industry, but opportunities have fallen through because they don’t believe in his creation.

"Charlamagne the God turned us down for iHeart because that’s what he knew," Hill said.

"A lot of times, you get overlooked because, as Black creatives, they are just now finally getting the bag, and we don’t have a bag to give you, but we have the same platform and capabilities of Starz, Netflix, Soundcloud, and other big streaming companies. We have the technology, but we don’t have the name recognition and those eyeballs."

Hill said gaining mainstream traction for Disctopia has been challenging, but he’s not giving up because he strongly believes in the tech behind his product, and others do too. Last year, A Cultivated Mindset closed a family and friends funding round of $100,000 in two weeks. Hill said that, even without outside financial help, he has been able to support Disctopia with the revenue from A Cultivated Mindset. 

With funding now becoming more crucial to move into a growth stage, A Cultivated Mindset is looking to raise a $1 million seed round to turn Disctopia into a platform-as-a-service. Hill said the platform would be opening its APIs in the next few months to allow users to take Disctopia and create their personalized streaming platforms. Hill also wants to see 100,000 users on the platform by the end of the year and welcome 25 minority engineers to the team.

"I really want to take the stigma out of Black tech and make sure we have a seat at the table," Hill concluded.

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