Posts from My Music

Fun Friday: Year End Music List

Every year since I started this blog, I’ve shared my favorite music of the year with the AVC readers.

In the early years, I would post different album every day for ten days (or eleven) in the process of putting together a top ten list. I moved away from albums a few years ago because I just don’t listen that way very much anymore.

I’ve moved to SoundCloud playlists and today I’m publishing my Essential Tracks of 2014 playlist here at AVC. It’s also available On SoundCloud and everywhere that SoundCloud is available (your phone, your browser, your Sonos, etc, etc). Enjoy.

Feature Friday: fredwilson.fm

So this is not really a feature. It’s a relaunch. But I figured I’d use this regular friday column to announce the relaunch of fredwilson.fm. I posted a few weeks ago that this was coming. And it has been live for about a week now.

Anyone can create a yourname.fm website. Here’s how:

1) get yourname.fm from your favorite domain registrar. I use Hover to store and manage all my domains but they don’t sell .fm domains. You can purchase .fm domains at GoDaddy.

2) set up a tumblr with that custom domain.

3) create a soundcloud account and start liking tracks to create a liked feed. Here is mine.

4) go to your soundcloud profile page, click on the share button, then the embed tab, and copy the embed code

5) make two edits to the embed code as shown below in red, then paste the code into your tumblr.

<iframe src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/users/xxxxx/favorites&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;visual=true&amp;auto_play=true" height="450" width="100%" frameborder="no" scrolling="no"></iframe>

So that’s all there is to it. I love having a private radio station. You might too.

While we are talking features, the one feature I would love to have added to this SoundCloud embed is a shuffle feature. Nothing better than shuffling through your favorite songs instead of listening in reverse chronological order.

Bringing fredwilson.fm Back To Life

Now that AVC has moved from Typepad to WordPress and been cleaned up (thanks again Nathan), it is time to turn my attention to another of my web properties that has been languishing, fredwilson.fm. Here is a chart of the fredwilson.fm audience over the past four years:

fredwilsonfm traffic

Sometime in the past year, the streampad player that powers fredwilson.fm broke on the soundcloud embeds in my tumblr and the whole thing stopped updating. You can still get an audio stream there, but it is the same one time after time after time. No wonder hardly anyone goes there anymore.

But I have a plan. I’ve moved most of my audio listening to SoundCloud in the past few years and I’ve built up a really great feed of liked tracks there. So I am now going to make my SoundCloud likes the basis for fredwilson.fm. I should be able to get it back up and running in a few days.

Until then, here’s an embed of my SoundCloud liked tracks for your listening pleasure. It will soon be available all the time on fredwilson.fm.

Fun Friday: Song Of The Year

What's your favorite song of the year?

Here's mine

I always wondered who plays the guitar solo at the end of the song. Brian told me the other night that its John Mayer. That's cool.

No Year End Music List This Year

Longtime readers will recall that in the early days of this blog, I would spend the last days of the year posting about music. I'd post a record every day for 10 to 14 days. These would be my top records of the year. Then a few years ago, I stopped doing that and went to a single post with my top ten records of the year (usually with a few extras thrown in for good measure). Here is last year's post for example.

This year, as hard as I tried, I could not get up for doing it. It's not that I am losing interest in music. Far from it. I am more into music right now than I have ever been.

As I've been pondering my complete lack of interest in a top ten records post over the past few weeks, I've come to the conclusion that it is the result of two factors. The first is that I don't listen to records much anymore. And the second is that I don't collect music anymore. I guess the two are related.

For me music has become real time, all the time. My current music experience is like a twitter feed. Music comes at me from everywhere on every device I own. I'm on turntable.fm at 5am hanging in the indie while you work room. I'm on soundcloud on my android at the gym at 7am. I'm listening to my girls' recent listens on rdio on sonos over breakfast at home. I'm on the ex.fm app on my android on the subway to work. I'm listening to fredwilson.fm on my computer at work. I'm watching my son's friends YouTube music videos on our kitchen iPad before dinner. I'm listening on the hype machine app on boxee on my family room TV after dinner. And it goes on like that all the day, until I get into bed and go to sleep.

Instead of getting obsessed about a record, I get obsessed about a song. I listen to it over and over. Then eventually I move on. But not before posting it to my tumblr and my music stream. fredwilson.fm is like my delcious feed for music, but you can listen to it. If you want to know what I was into in 2011, that's probably the best thing to do.

But if you don't have 21 hours (that's how long it will take to listen to the past twelve months of my music stream), then here are a few songs I'm obsessed with at the moment.

Feature Friday: DJs Needed

Richard F has been urging me to talk about features I love every friday. I am not committing to make this a weekly feature (no pun intended). One weekly committment is enough. But I will try to run posts about features I love and new features on Fridays under this moniker.

Today, I'd like to talk about something Turntable added this week that I really like. They launched a new lobby page. It looks like this (at 6:30am eastern before most of the US has woken up):

Turntable lobby

We are looking at the view called "DJs needed". This view lets you quickly see the busiest rooms in the service where there are DJ spots available.

Before this feature was released, all you would see in the lobby was the busiest rooms. But the real thrill of Turntable is getting up on stage and seeing if you can deliver the goods. I do it at least three of four times a week. It's a kick.

This feature was among the most commonly requested things users have asked for since the Turntable service launched. Harking back to yesterday's post about focusing on your loyal users, I believe one of the keys to success early in a company's life is listening closely to the users and then delivering quickly on the things they ask for. That creates trust and loyalty, two important traits in an early user base.

So now when you visit Turntable, click on the DJs needed icon in the lobby, and go into a room and start showing your stuff. I think you'll enjoy it. I certainly do.

Turntable.fm

We finally got around to announcing our investment in Turntable.fm. I wrote this on the USV blog today:

Sometimes you end up loving something you don't want to.

When turntable.fm launched, I wanted to avoid it. There was the Facebook login button that I didn't want to use. There was another music service I didn't want to add to my already-exhaustive collection. And then there was the matter of Seth and Billy, who may have the distinction of getting more "no thanks" from me than any other pair of entrepreneurs in the world. Seth got the first one from me in 1996 I believe, and they got the most recent one from me less than a year ago.

But the service kept coming after me. It was showing up in my twitter stream, my facebook feed, my tumblr dashboard. My friends were on it and loving it. Our office was on it and loving it.

So one day in late June or early July, I finally hit that Facebook login and took a tour of turntable. What I found was people, lots of them, they were playing music, they were listening to music, they were talking to each other, they were dancing, they were having fun. And I was too. I was sold in about five minutes. I called up Seth and Billy and said "let's talk."

One of the worst kept secrets in startupland is that Union Square Ventures has led a round of financing for turntable.fm. We've been joined in this financing by Polaris, First Round and Chris Sacca and will also be joined by a collection of strategic angels who will close later this month. Billy has the news up on the turntable blog.

Billy Chasen is one of the most talented web entrepreneurs I've met. He makes software that looks different, feels different, and is different. His Chartbeat service is the most elegant and beautiful analytics product ever created. I've wanted to work with Billy for years. But we never found the right project to work together on. Now we have. I'm very excited about that.

Seth Goldstein is one of the first web entrepreneurs I ever met, back in NYC in the mid 90s. I've been his friend since, and we were colleagues at Flatiron where Seth built a killer mobile web portfolio a decade before its time. We both learned a lot from that. I've been trying to work with Seth again for a decade and now it has happened. A homecoming of sorts.

But the thing that has made all of this is possible is turntable.fm. I'm in the service now as I'm writing this, in my regular early morning hang, the indie while you work room. You'll find me there most mornings between 5am and 7am eastern. If you like to listen to indie music while you work, and if you are an early riser like me, maybe we can listen to some music together, chat about whatever, and maybe even jump on the stage and spin some tracks.

It is this form of socializing together across physical distance that makes the web special. As Dave Weinberger said,

On the Web, however, strangers are the source of everything worthwhile. Strangers and their utterances are the stuff of the Web. They are what give the Web its matter, its shape, its value.

Turntable is where strangers play music they love to each other, talk, and in time become friends. It happens to me most mornings and it is a special experience and I'd encourage you to experience it yourself.

SoundCloud & Tumblr

I'm very excited this morning. I got to do something that I've wanted to do most every day for the past few years. I posted my song of the day from SoundCloud to Tumblr.

Soundcloud

For those that don't know, I post a song every day to Tumblr. It shows up on my tumblog and is the first song on my internet radio stream, fredwilson.fm.

I spend hours every day streaming music on the web and mobile and when I discover something great, I add it to the list of songs to post to Tumblr. Many times, I discover the music on SoundCloud. But getting the song from SoundCloud to Tumblr has hard and at times impossible. Many tracks on SoundCloud don't allow download of the mp3. And so I've had to go out on the web and find the mp3 somewhere else. And there are times when it is not on the web in mp3 form. It's a time consuming and often futile exercise.

Sometime in the past day or two, Tumblr added the ability to enter a soundcloud URL into the audio posting flow. I discovered it this morning. And almost jumped out of my chair with joy.

I hope that SoundCloud adds a share to Tumblr link in their UI soon. That will make it even easier.

But what we've got now is great and I'm very very happy about it.

Here are some other tumbloggers who are using the SoundCloud/Tumblr integration this morning:

Kirk Love with Santogold and The Beastie Boys

Andy Weissman with Vetiver

Enjoy



Going Out On Top

Last night we went up to Madison Square Garden with some friends to see James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem go out on top. For those not into LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy is a producer and record label owner who started LCD Soundsystem as a project in the early part of the last decade. They put out three records, each one besting the one before. The most recent came out last year and was one of the top records of the year.

Then, at the top of their game, LCD decided to call it quits. They played four shows this past week at Terminal 5, and then played their last show ever at The Garden last night. It's over now.

As we watched the band put on a fantastic show last night, I was thinking about going out on top. So few manage to do it. Shaq is warming the bench in Boston. Brett Favre should have called it quits after he threw the pick in OT against the Saints. The Stones haven't written a great song in thirty years. The money and the burning desire to "win another one" drives the great ones to stick around too long.

And I wondered if the rules of the entertainment and sports world can be applied to venture capital and startups. Is there a time to call it quits in business? I look at Warren Buffett and Rupert Murdoch and I see individuals still enjoying the work and delivering for their shareholders and investors into their 80s.

But I also look around the venture capital business and I see investors who were at the top of their games in the 90s struggling to remain relevant. And I think about how I want to manage this issue myself.

How do you know when you've done your last great startup? How do you know when you've done your last great investment? How do you know when you don't have the drive, hunger, and insights to keep delivering top performance?

Right now, coming off two weeks of totally relaxing vacation with my family, I find myself up early, thinking, writing, and planning. I don't sense it is yet time to hang up my cleats or walk of the stage like James Murphy did last night. But the thought is in my mind and I want it to stay there. The investment business is not easy. You are only as good as your last trade, fund, or year. And the venture capital business is particulary tricky. All the returns in the business accrue to the top ten or, at best, twenty percent of investors. When you lose your edge, your performance suffers, often badly. But it can take a decade for the rest of the world to notice because there is so much latency in the venture capital business.

I don't want to be the investor who sticks around milking the investors for fee income and raising funds based on returns that are over a decade old. That's a Rolling Stones move and it is not for me. I'd prefer to do what James Murphy and his band did last night.

Lockers vs Streaming Services

I'm on vacation so I'll keep this short.

I don't get the idea of music locker services like the one Amazon just announced. If I'm going to stream music from the cloud, why should I continue to buy files and collect them? I've been a Rhapsody subscriber for something like 11 or 12 years and although it has taken a while to get used to, I vastly prefer subscription streaming services over file based music. I've just stared using rdio on my Android and on the web and I love it too. I've used Spotify and it is also excellent (once it is fully licensed in the US).

Locker services seem like they are designed to continue the physical model of collecting music and buying music when there is a new and better way – just subscribe to music dial tone and listen to whatever you want wherever you want.

I'm bearish on locker services and bullish on subscription streaming services.