Music Dealers Press: Three Guys Revolutionizing The Digital Music World 1269 words · 6 minute read

Three Guys Revolutionizing The Digital Music World

At the intersection of music and technology sits Alex White, Eric Sheinkop, and Andrew Barberyoung entreprenuers with their eyes set on the future. We stop by their offices to learn more.

Written by Jourdan Crouch Fairchild

Photographed by Marc Moran

SOURCE - Apartment Number 9

Name: Alex White

Company: Next Big Sound

Description: A digital subscription service that tracks the online music activity of every band in the world

Founded: 2009

The early days: “I always thought I wanted to be in the music industry, but I didn’t know anyone who’d started companies. I would’ve never considered it. But I love music and business, and I wanted to live at that center of both. I met my co-founders David and Samir in an entrepreneurship class in my senior year at 2008. We moved to Boulder in 2009, when we had very little of an idea of what we were doing except that we wanted to transform the way decisions are made in the music business.”

Growing pains: “It’s happened slower than I thought initially, but whenever I take a deep breath, it’s faster than I thought. A year ago we were nine people in Boulder and now we’re 22 in NYC. Some of our biggest challenges have been around how to secure data from our data partners, how to package and present that in a way that the music industry can understand and use, how to sell data and analytics to an industry that’s not used to logging into software products and using those numbers to make decisions. And biggest challenge is managing a team that’s doubled in size in the last three years. There are different challenges of working together when there are three of us versus nine versus 20. “

Taste of success: “The top brass labels that wouldn’t take me as an intern five years ago are now requesting meetings with me. To be doing this everyday makes me feel very fortunate. Beyond our partnerships with major music labels like Universal, we also collaborate with Billboard magazine each week to release the Social 50, a weekly chart ranking the most popular artists online across all major music sites.”

Thinking ahead: “Ideally the growth only continues to accelerate, both from a personal and revenue standpoint as well as an impact standpoint. I think we’ve done a great job saturating the labels and have changed a lot of the behavior that was gut-based before and now is at least gut checked and informed by our data and the numbers we track. But I think our reach will expand to all segments of the music industry and all adjacent businesses. We’re just at the very, very beginning of the power of data to transform the entertainment industry and we want to lead that charge for years to come.”

Name: Eric Sheinkop

Site:Music Dealers

Description: A technology platform that manages the rights of recording artists

Founded: 2009

The early days: “Growing up, I was always in bands and interested in music from around the world. But even as a little kid, I knew I was going to be in the music business rather than be a musician. I started a record label when I was 16, and after college, I was managing artists while working as a consultant for Fortune 100 brands. I would help them decide which artists were going to bring them the most value, and it became very clear, very quickly that the process was highly inefficient. So we began building our business organically. We worked on a McDonald’s campaign against the three big music houses in Chicago. In two days, we supplied them with 150 different custom songs, whereas the other companies handed in 3 songs each. So at that point, everyone knew we had something unique. Now our database allows clients to search for songs based on emotions, genres, lead musical instrument, tempo, and the list goes on. And for every song, we’ve cleared the rights for global use and all media perpetuity.”

Growing pains: “Our industry is so tough to break into, and we’re going up against organizations that have been around before any of us were born. They had a certain way of doing things and we were disrupting that model. Also, we’re more limited in resources. Everyone has to wear multiple hats and come together to get the job done, regardless if it means working nights and weekendswhich 90 percent of our staff does. But it forces us to be more creative.”

Taste of success: “Just over a year and a half ago, we sold a small piece of the company to Coca-Cola to become their global music agency. That led to us doing commercials which aired in over 200 countries around the world. In 2012, we placed over 12,000 different songs, and we paid out millions of dollars to independent artists. Every single day we strive to improve our artists’ lives. When they’re able to see monetary value in the art they create, they feel encouraged and motivated to continue. We help put artists on tour, start their own publishing companies, and record their new albums.”

Thinking ahead: “I think we’re on the way to achieving what we really want, which is to become known as the foot in the door for artists. When I was growing up there was absolutely zero information about how you start or how you have a successful career as an artist. Since we’re a technology platform, there’s a lot still that can be done to impact the industrybut I’m proud of what we’ve done so far.”

Name: Andrew Barber

Site: Fake Shore Drive

Description: Chicago’s premiere hip-hop music blog

Founded: 2007

The early days: “Music has always been a part of my life. When I was seven, I was into music videos like DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince’s “Nightmare on My Street” and the “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” My dream was to work at a label like Jive or Def Jam, but unless you had a connection, you couldn’t get in there. So I took an ad sales job after college, which paid the bills but wasn’t my passion. While I was there, I started Fakeshore Drive from my desk. I was basically juggling two full-time jobs, and I did that for several years. Two years ago, I finally left. It was tough to give up that comfortable lifestyle of full benefits and regular pay, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Growing pains: “The concept of a rap blog was foreign at the time. People said, “You want me to give you music to put on a website for free?” They were looking at me like I had four eyes. It takes a long time to build your name, build your brand, and become a place that people trust and come back to on a daily basis.”

Taste of success: “Our traffic has tripled since this time last year, and now we have about 500,000 visits a month. One year for my birthday, Twista, one of my favorite rappers growing up, got me a birthday cake with a Fakeshore drive logo on it. If you had told me as a 17-year-old that that would happen, I would’ve said you’re nuts.”

Thinking ahead: “Do blogs have a shelf life? I don’t know. I know people consume content differently and that’s always changing. So with our brand, it’s about how we stay on top of this ever-changing model. The minute you get lazy in your position is the minute you’re done.”