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Working at a few startups over the years, and now hiring them/employing their technology, I’ve learned the same lesson many times over. A solid product takes much more than a good idea. It needs fuel in the community, brilliant execution, and the occasional dose of right place/right time.
SXSW Accelerator looks to give the right forum for music startups to get past development and get in front of those that can help or need the product. If you are unfamiliar, the details can be found at http://sxsw.com/music/startupvillage/accelerator. At minimum it’s a good opp for feedback, exposure, and possibly bragging rights!
There’s something poetic about coming to this city on your own, map blank other than a destination. It’s no matter, you assume you’re getting there and the part in the middle will work itself out.
I still remember the night in a Seattle recording studio that I realized I needed to course-correct. Move the product development thing into the background and find a path back into the music business.
I can’t believe everything I’ve been a part of since. I’ve worked with some of the greatest musicians on the planet. I’ve learned business from staggeringly successful practitioners. I’ve forged friendships with people I admire and respect. And I learned that I am an entrepreneur to my core and that will never change.
I have so far to go, but at times like these it’s immensely valuable to stop and reflect. Hit pause on the never-ending aspiration and just enjoy what I’ve built. Be thankful for those that have seen something in me and given me a platform to achieve greatness.
The single most consistent lesson I’ve learned in life is that if you find passion, dig in with all your might. Be relentless, be ambitious, contribute more than what your job description defines, never accept what you know to be false, wake up early and go to sleep late – whatever it takes to keep it bolted to your foundation.
I’ve been fortunate to make a career out of applying my passion to those in need of my skills. My dad teaching me to hack an Apple IIe when I was six, coupled with music being equivalent in importance as air and water made the path clear. But as we learn daily, most people never get to take music beyond a hobby – at best it becomes a spectator sport if you chase it.
In 1994 I set out on a path that started in college radio, took me through three record labels, my own digital marketing agency, contributing to industry organizations, a decade of speaking engagements all over the country, and now to a company I’ve admired and followed since I was a young teen.
I’ve enjoyed almost every job I’ve had – all the way back to rocking the photo department at Sav-On in 1993. There’s only one job I had that was so far removed from my true self that I ran out the door screaming, cloud-of-dust style. Three days later I was employee number six (thirteenth ever) at a software startup in the basement of a downtown Seattle bookstore. I went from utter discontent to a feeling of zen in a weekend.
That was a long time ago, and it taught me a very valuable lesson – knowing what you don’t like is usually more important than having a rigid definition of what you’re after. We can’t all have careers that would impress our 14-year-old selves, but as long as wherever you find yourself is infused with passion, you’re doing it right.
…It breaks down like this: developers signing up to use the Echo Nest platform will have the option to access the IDJ catalog without having to contact the label in advance for permission. Developers simply agree to the terms of service agreement and then are free to create any app they like using the label’s catalog with no upfront cost to license the music.
Under the terms of service, IDJ becomes the publisher of any app created as a result (meaning they still control the distribution) and will split the revenue of any commercialized app with the developer and the EchoNest. IDJ will also market the app and administer payments to music publishers when applicable. At least initially, apps will be limited to U.S. distribution only.
This is a groundbreaking deal for several reasons. First, it addresses the primary complaint music app developers have, which is that securing meetings with labels to obtain licensing right is far too difficult, not to mention expensive. For smaller, independent developers, it’s damn near impossible…
I’ve been covering the digital music business for MediaShift for more than 18 months, and in that time I’ve chronicled new services and examined key trends and news. Below is a look at 10 things that I’ve come to believe are true about the modern music business.
1. The “DIY Revolution” has Been Relatively Ineffective
Although going it on your own was all the rage in 2009, reality has shown that the majority of artists still need a team around them to reach any substantial level of awareness, sales, and revenue. However, this team doesn’t necessarily need to resemble the traditional record label department structure. For many artists, surrounding themselves with a few tech-savvy friends and some seed money can generate the momentum necessary to fuel a moderate indie career. To reach far and wide enough to live off of one’s art, the task list is simply too long to tackle alone. In reality, DIY can work just fine if you modernize the traditional definition of the term.
2. Tech Can Replace/Enhance Some Functions
Technology has removed many barriers and allowed almost anyone to play the game. It has also removed the need for some of the team members that have always been needed. Recording, mixing and mastering music can be done faster and cheaper than ever before. Distributing the output digitally is near instant and inexpensive. Anyone can create digital tools that collect email addresses, stream music, sell tickets, and engage with fans. Just remember that with technology, “build it and they will come” is pure fantasy.
- There are 1.73 billion Internet users worldwide as of September 2009.
- There are 1.4 billion e-mail users worldwide, and on average we collectively send 247 billion e-mails per day. Unfortunately 200 billion of those are spam e-mails.
- As of December 2009, there are 234 million websites.
- Facebook (Facebook) gets 260 billion pageviews per month, which equals 6 million page views per minute and 37.4 trillion pageviews in a year.
Some of the most powerful resources you have in the music industry have nothing to do with music.
I read plenty of music biz news sites and blogs, and it helps keep me aware of what’s on most of my colleague’s minds. But if it’s in those blogs, people are already talking about it and you can’t do it first.
What I care about is figuring out what’s next. Finding more efficiency. Creating something that hasn’t been done before. Taking an old concept and applying it a new way.
The best wisdom often comes from sources far from obvious. Find the tools you need, combine them with the wisdom you can find, and create something bigger than you thought.
I basically sum up the current state of the debate, the players, and what it will take for mass adoption. A quick and hopefully informative read to catch you up on where things are at in the streaming/subscription world.