The five finalists who presented at Billboard FutureSound Conference's Innovators Showcase (from left): Derrick Fung, Tunezy; Mehul Trivedi, Playground.fm; Jeff Foster, Tixie; Peter Watts, Swarm.fm; Andrew Dever, Swarm.fm, before Innovators showcase presentations. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Five startups took the stage at the Billboard FutureSound conference to show their attempts to build a better mousetrap. They are trying to improve music discovery, how to share music, how to peddle tickets as well as how artists can sell everything from music to meet-and-greet experiences.
On stage Thursday afternoon, each startup in the Innovators Showcase gave a short presentation and answered questions from a select panel of judges. The winner will be announced at the end of the conference Friday.
Playground.fm's Mehul Trivedi presenting his emerging music-related startup. (Photo: Arnold Turner
"Unfortunately, music discovery is really hard," said Mehul Trivedi, CEO of Playground.fm. His company is trying to make it easier for people to enjoy music they like in a radio-like, lean-back experience. The Playground.fm iPhone app analyzes a user's listening on iTunes, Spotify and Rdio and recommends playlists. The app strives for the simplicity demanded by a mainstream audience.
Swarm.fm's Peter Watts (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Swarm.fm, on the other hand, targets the more hardcore fan. The service, which makes sense of Facebook's glut of information to connect people to music, is currently available as a Spotify app. CEO Peter Watts said Swarm.fm wants to eventually exist elsewhere as a layer on existing music services.
Here Comes the Judge(s) (from left): Ted Cohen, Managing Partner, TAG Strategic; YiPing Ho, Senior Dir. Digital Strategy & Business Development, Warner Music Group; David Kusek, Founder, Digital Cowboys; Larry Marcus, Managing Director, Walden VC; Brian Zisk, Founder, SFMusicTech- judges. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Larry Marcus of Walden Venture Capital, one of the judges for the showcase, was won over. "I love that app. I actually invested in the company."
The other judges were Ted Cohen, managing partner at TAG Strategic; YiPing Ho, Senior Director Digital Strategy & Business Development, Warner Music Group; David Kusek, Founder, Digital Cowboys; and Brian Zisk, Founder, SF MusicTech. The winner will be announced Friday.
Tunezy's Derrick Fung (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Tunezy CEO Derrick Fung said he was still at his finance job when he attended the 2011 FutureSound conference. He quit his job a month later and was on stage Thursday talking about this platform that helps artists sell everything from music to experiences. Tunezy generates revenue by taking a cut when an artist sells music, merchandise or an experience -- whether an online concert or a backstage meet-and-greet.
GetMixxd wants a better way to add music to messages. The service helps people find the right song to add music to their online messages. By tapping into the iTunes API, GetMixxd uses a sample of any track in the iTunes catalog. The hope is to reach licensing deals to include songs. Messages hold revenue possibility because of advertising space.
GetMixxd's Adrian Otto (Photo: Arnold Turner)
These startups are in the early stages. Some have just a few co-founders. GetMixxd CTO Adrian Otto said he thinks the company needs 100,000 users to be successful. Reaching that threshold will result in a viral spread of the service that will lead to far greater adoption, he said. Trivedi said about 10,000 users are in Playground.fm's system.
Tixie's Jeff Foster (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Year-old live events site Tixie, available is six markets, wants to help promoters and venues engage fans and sell ticket inventory. The company mixes game play and ticketing by giving people daily chances to win tickets to local events. "The best ambassador for the live event is the ticket itself," says CEO Jeff Foster.
A player has ten chances to win each day using an allotment of tokens. Foster says Tixie has had over 20,000 bidders submit over 463,000 bids and over 2,1000 pairs of tickets have been won. Game play encourages ticket buying, says Foster: 8% of players click through to purchase tickets.
The judges in a spirited debate over which of the day's presentations was best. (Photo: Arnold Turner)