/ musicbiz

The truth about doing business with the music business

Turntable.fm recently "pivoted" from online DJ booths to some sort of live event platform for musicians, which sounds more like an entirely new business.

It's also a business I don't understand, since if I want to see an artist live I'll go to a gig, or watch one of the numerous existing live music channels.

Sadly, it's over for the DJ biz as licensing costs and a difficult to monetize product collided:

As much as we all love turntable.fm, we have decided to shut it down to fully concentrate on the Live experience. It was a tough decision to make because we love this community so much, but the cost of running a music service has been too expensive and we can't outpace it with our efforts to monetize it and cut costs. If we also want to give Turntable Live a real shot, we need to fully focus on it.

turntable blog

Turntable.fm (here's the pivot to Turntable Live) isn't alone in hitting the wall and joins a long list of music focused tech startups that have done the same. With that in mind I hope Spotify can put it's new $250mm war chest to good use improving subscriber numbers to the point where they have a viable business.

Anyhow, if you're thinking of engaging with the music business, this is what to expect: they’ll stab you in the front and watch you bleed.

Doesn't matter whether it's recorded music, publishing, live/touring, etc, it's an in-your-face, no holds barred business "where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs" (to misquote Hunter S. Thompson). For every music biz playa offended by this characterization, there's another high fiving a buddy in agreement.

So if the wasteland of failed music tech startups doesn't make it clear enough and if you're crazy enough to pursue that dream: you probably need licenses cleared, you should have the discussion up front, it'll cost a lot of coin, and expect to lose a serious chunk of equity.*

* There are always outliers such as YouTube, but the game has changed significantly in the last few years and the industry has gotten a lot better at defeating "fair use" claims. // Negotiations aren't necessarily as binary as I suggest. // If you have a great music tech startup, the first person I'd contact is Ted Cohen at TAG Strategic.

RobC

RobC

Marketing. Tech. Tunes. Words. Don't believe everything you think.

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