Finding live-music is time consuming & difficult. That’s the case in our home town Boston & it’s the same in every city we have visited. Why is that? Why is there a friction between music performance & the community in this era of internet search? We have been working on this idea for the last 2 years with a team at MIT, building out a data model & business plan to support live music, musicians & local venues.
We are launching undrground.com to provide all the music going on in a city each night. It’s comprehensive & it provides new ways to find live music that don’t exist currently. Check out when we launch in your city.
Why is sound less well socialized than other types of content such as photo, video & text? I think the reason is tied up in the experience of listening, as opposed to visual reading/browsing information on a screen. For example, when I come across a song sent by a friend on Facebook, I might listen to the first few seconds to get the gist, before I'm on to the next post. Compare that to the idea of radio -- that time & place of listening to music; in the car, at home while cooking a meal, in the background while working, as a vibe when entertaining friends. This is a huge portion of the total space in my life for music other than live performance.
It's interesting all these incorporate listening while doing something else. Plus, you're not in charge -- there's the serendipity of not knowing what's coming next. Neither is it random as it's been curated by another human, starting in one place & steering to another with similarities/contrasts & moods. This idea of curation has been driven out of commercial radio as a cost to be reduced with result of terrestrial radio being boring, bland & diminishing. In a world where there is abundance of [almost] free music, what to listen to becomes the challenge -- we need curation it turns out. Algorithmic curation doesn't cut it. I use algorithmic curation on music sites to discover really great songs, but you have to kiss a lot of frogs to create a playlist that I, or other people will want to listen to.
Is there a space in this new world for sharing & curation activated by the social energy of friends? You might think this world already exists with playlists on Spotify or Soundcloud, but those are stovepipes -- if your friend isn't a subscriber, they have to listen to adverts & that's a big "NO" to anyone who likes & listens to a lot of music.
I've been experimenting sharing playlists among friends over the past few years. I still share by CD, but CD drives are disappearing fast. My experience of sharing playlist links is that it doesn't seem to work too well -- the social activity on Spotify between friends is nearly zero. MatesRadio is an internet radio experiment of sharing music 24/7 with friends, without ads.
I have a particular love for music from Africa, particularly southern Africa where I spent the first five years of my working life.
Vintage Afro Beats -- various artists from across Africa: Sal Davis, Kenya 1963; Fadoul, Morocco 1975; Gnonnas Pedro, Benin 1980; Rob, Ghana 1977; Orchestra Baobab, Senegal 1982; Funkees, Nigeria 1972, Rim Kwaku Obeng, Ghana 1983; Sam Mangawana, Congo 1995; Grand Kalle, Congo 1966; Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopia 1972; Manu Dibango, Cameroon 1972; Bayete, SA 1993
South Africa Kwaito Vol 1 -- various artists across South Africa: From Capetown - Lungelo, Brasse Vannie Kaap, Freshlyground, & Die Antwoord; From Johannesburg - Kabelo, Jamali & TKZee; From KwaZulu Natal - Busi Mhlongo & S-Squad; From Port Elizabeth - Kalahari Surfers; From Soweto - Mandoza, Skwattakamp, Pro Kid & Pitch Black Afro; From Mafeking - Tuks
South Africa Kwaito Vol 2 -- various artists from across South Africa: From Gauteng - DJ Cleo, Muzart & Kongos. From Soweto - Morale & Brickz. From Nelspruit - Afrotraction. From Daveyton: Lebo Mathos & Lira. From Kwa-Zulu Natal - B'utiza. From Durban - DJ Cndo & Spykos. From E Cape - Thandiswa. From Brooklyn - Monique Bingham.
South Africa Soul House Vol 1 -- An hour of my favorite soul house tracks from South Africa.
San Francisco Music Tech Conference in October 2016 was a great window into what's going on in music tech. I did a bit of primary research & tracked down information on each company represented by the 700+ attendees to the event, in order to understand the range of ideas circulating & which are getting traction. I've classified into groups mapped by capabilities & identified which have funding, how much & by whom. I share here for those with similar interest -- view detailed spreadsheet.
1) Ticket sales & licensing are receiving the most attention from venture capital. Duh!
2) Licensing is particularly interesting because of its control on the rest of music tech activity. There were 4 groups of companies at SF Music Tech based on capabilities:
Ten of these twelve companies have funding & four have investment from strategic investors. [Sony Music invested $1M in NoisePop licensing artists photos & images, Gracenote invested $1M in Soundstr [device to track & report rights on music played], SESAC invested in Rumblefish [micro-rights on Youtube]. SOCAN invested in Core Rights [blockchain technology].
3) Playlists -- there's an above average amount of investment going on in the Playlists space.
Slacker Radio has $70M in funding for human curated radio. I don't get it.
Rockbot has $5.1 of investment for corporate playlists, allowing businesses that play music [retail etc.] to manage across locations & allow customer to pick songs. NY-based Amuse Business Music is similar but lacks funding.
4) There is little activity around social sharing of music.
- Mejay is potentially interesting, but has not launched yet. Allows sending of songs to friends via an app.
- Audiodrops is a bit like Pokemon Go, allowing geo-located drops of music. Seems like a weak idea.
- Social networks for musicians [Jammcard] do not seem to be getting much traction.
5) Lastly, a shout-out to "New music currencies" which has 8 companies dedicated to paying artists in new ways:
- Audiocoin seems like a crazy idea to give coin for sharing an artists music.
- Royalty Exchange allows artists to sell future rights to investors & has $3.4M in funding.