Posts from Music

Use Social Sharing Platforms Like A Panel

More and more artists are embracing social sharing platforms like YouTube (video), SoundCloud (audio), Wattpad (storytelling) to get their works out and connect with fans. We have invested heavily in this category and both SoundCloud and Wattpad are USV portfolio companies. Another benefit of these platforms is you can use your followers/fans on these platforms like a panel. If you assume that the millions of followers you have on SoundCloud are more or less a representative sample of your entire fan base, then their behavior is more or less a reflection of the behavior of your entire fan base. If they like a new song a lot, it will probably be popular with your entire fan base. If they aren’t so excited about it, then maybe it won’t be a hit with your fan base.

SoundCloud announced a new feature for creators today that is a great example of this. It is called “Top Cities”. This is how SoundCloud describes it:

Plan your next tour, release strategy, and get better at connecting with your fanbase, by knowing exactly where they are — just click the ‘Top cities’ tab in your stats dashboard.

I recall seeing startups crop up from time to time where this was the entire business plan – figuring out where artists fans were so they could plan a tour. It turns out it wasn’t a great business. But I do think its a great feature. And just one example of how you can turn your followers on social sharing platforms into a panel that will allow you to understand them and connect with them better.

Follower Counts

The other day we gave a friend of my son a ride from one side of Park City to the other. While I was driving, my son and his friends were chatting about the state of hip hop in Salt Lake City. Turns out another of my son’s friends met a local hip hop artist in the SLC airport earlier this week. They got to discussing this local hip hop artist. My son’s friend said “he’s very under the radar right now, he only has a couple hundred SoundCloud followers.”

Contrast that with Lorde, who emerged as an “under the radar” artist on SoundCloud a few years ago. Lorde now has almost 2.8mm followers on SoundCloud.

This phenomenon is certainly not limited to SoundCloud. Follower counts on Twitter have been a thing from the earliest days of Twitter. Subscriber counts on YouTube matter to emerging video artists. Follower counts on Wattpad matter to emerging writers.

The comment about the local hip hop artist got me thinking that for emerging artists, follower counts on the platform of choice for their media type might be the most important metric to asses the state of their career. It certainly sounded that way coming out of my son’s friend’s mouth. Under the radar means less than 1000 followers. Emerging means 1000 to 10,000 followers. Breaking out means 50,000 to 100,000 followers. More than 500,000 followers and you have arrived. More than 2.5mm followers and you are a superstar. Something like that.

Maybe follower counts are the new Billboard, Variety, etc of the entertainment and media business. It certainly seems that way.

Video Of The Week: Alex Ljung on Emergent Behavior

I've frequently said on this blog that emergent behavior in a service is a sign to me that the service is scaling into something important and valuable. It is a feature that we look for a lot in our investments. I don't love it when entrepreneurs build services that are too tightly constructed around a single use case. I do love it when entrepreneurs build services that the users can take and do interesting things with.

Here's a short (3min) video where Alex Ljung, founder and CEO of our portfolio company SoundCloud, talks about how that happened in SoundCloud.

Five Years Of SoundCloud

Our portfolio company SoundCloud turned five years old yesterday. To celebrate they posted this 6 minute clip where 5 soundclouders tell their stories. What I like so much about this is that each of the 5 soundclouders have very different talents, very different use cases, and very different stories. Happy Birthday SoundCloud

Feature Friday: Posting Music

Every morning I post a song to the Internet. I have been doing this for at least six years. For as long as I've been on Tumblr.

You all know how obsessed I am about posting every day. It's probably a mortality thing for me. Wake up, be glad to be alive, post something on the Internet. Like a dog marking his spot.

Posting music is a bit different than posting text. Because you can listen to it. It comes alive. It makes you smile, dance, tap, and at times, cry. I cried a fair bit last week as Lou Reed songs filled up my feed for a couple days. We sat shiva with his music.

Friday is particularly special because a group of us have played a game called cover friday for something like five years now. The group is loose. Anyone can join by simply posting a cover song on friday morning. But participating requires committment. Because you have to post a cover song to your Tumblr every friday morning. This is what my Tumblr looked like this morning.

Cover friday

Posting music used to mean finding a mp3 and uploading it. I never do that anymore. I post three ways. I find songs on soundcloud and embed them, I find music posts on Tumblr and reblog them, and I find mp3s on the web and post the links. Search and reblog is all it takes. I think pretty much every song in the world is somewhere online. At least that's been my experience for a long time now.

You can also do this with YouTube. Pretty much every song is on YouTube as well. But I don't like the video. I find it distracting. I just want the music. So I don't post YouTube music and don't watch much of it either.

Posting and streaming music has changed music discovery for me. I like to post so others can discover. And I like to follow people who post music so I can discover from them. I've made a bunch of great friends this way. Some of whom I've never met in person. But they light up my feed with music. Which is one of the best things a friend can do for a friend.

Here's my cover song for today:

Chromecast

I've written a fair bit about the fact that I think we will use our mobile devices (phones, tablets, watches, glasses, etc) to control the more expensive devices in our lives (TVs, car dashboards, refridgerators, etc). I think this mode of user interaction will win out over software solutions built for and running on the more expensive and therefore longer lasting devices we own.

Until now, Apple's Airplay and Bluetooth were the only good solutions for this kind of interaction. I use both in my home and office and I use them every day. But, as I have written here before, both have issues. Airplay is proprietary and not available on all devices (Sonos being a prime example). And Bluetooth is old and doesn't scale well into high bandwidth applications.

I've tried DLNA which Google and others have supported and its wonky right now. It's possible that DLNA will evolve and emerge as another good alternative.

But yesterday Google announced Chromecast which is an interesting take on this approach. Chromecast is a HDMI dongle that you put into the HDMI port of your TV and then connect to your home wifi network.

Chromecast

I've just purchased four of them from the Google Play store. I will put them on all the TVs I've got in my homes and see how they work. We use Nexus 7s to control the TVs in our homes and so those Nexus 7s will now be able to do a lot more than switch inputs. They will be able to be the input.

It's too soon for me to know how big of a deal Chromecast will be. I need to get my hands on it, use it, and then I will have a better feel for it.

But this much I know. This commenter on Hacker News is spot on:

people should just think of TV's the way they think of their jamboxes: a higher fidelity dumb pipe for their existing content

Video Of The Week: Cliff Chenfeld on Media Reporter

My friend Cliff Chenfeld recently appeared on the Media Reporter TV show. Cliff has been in the entertainment business for over 25 years and he talks about the changes he has seen in the music industry, film, sports, and other entertainment sectors. It’s about 30 minutes long and worth a watch/listen.

Fun Friday: Best Entertainment This Year So Far

The idea for today's fun friday comes from Tyrone who wrote this in an email to me this week:

fun friday idea: best entertainment this year across the board, albums, films, series, sites, youtube channels etc?

For me, the answer is the NBA playoffs (though the result bums me out), This Is The End (the jonah hill exorcism is hysterical), and my favorite records of the year so far are Lysandre, Modern Vampires Of The City, Random Access Memories, Mala, and Isles.

What are your favorite entertainment moments of the year so far?

Feature Friday: Dedicate A Song

Yesterday I dedicated a song on Piki to my friend Whitney. He DM'd me and said "I haven't had that happen to me since the days of call-in radio shows".

Dedicating a song is my favorite feature on Piki. It is generous, fun, and viral.

I did it this morning with my daughter Jessica.

I picked a song

Dedicate to someone

 

And then at the bottom of the dialog box, I typed in her name

Dedicate 2

That's all there is to it. She gets notified and ideally comes back to Piki and listens and/or picks some more music for everyone else to hear.

Virality is critical to make a social app spread. But the viral features must also be fun and meaningful. Dedicating a song is both and that's why I do it so much.

By the way, Piki is now available on the web (and iOS). Android is coming soon.

Feature Friday: Pick A Song

Our portfolio company Turntable launched their second product yesterday, called Piki. I saw this comment about Piki in a blog post and posted it to my Tumblr:

If you imagine Twitter not for tweets but for songs, you'll arrive at something like Piki.

In Piki parlance, a tweet is a pick. You pick a song and post it to your feed.

Pick a song

Here is my piki feed.

I have been using Piki in private beta for several months and it's quite good. I am listening to Piki right now as I write this post.

Piki is publicly available for iOS and the web app remains in private beta for a few more weeks. Android is next.

And sadly, because the music industry makes it this way for developers who choose to work with them, it is only available in the US right now.

If you are in the US and have an iPhone, give picking a song a try. You can download Piki here.