Musichouse – express yourself

Musichouse was a music ecosystem compromising of an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for artists & producers with exclusive access to online & offline (radio) broadcasting channels via RockinTheShed. We developed a number of monetization models to appeal to our target market. RockinTheShed served as an initial hook to get leverage for Musichouse. We had a great team of smart entrepreneurs like Dave Manna (Sydney’s top Music Producer), Artur (RockinTheShed host) and Denis who is today the co-founder of embedster.com (Y Combinator 2010 Alumni).

The most complete music ecosystem

This consisted of three key components:

1)  Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for bands / artists – a way for an artist to professionally express themselves online by providing information about the band and events in an electronic equivalent of a press kit. Some of the parts of this EPK include biographical & contact information, music clips with accompanying lyrics, videos from events, media information, calendar of upcoming events linked to eTicks system etc… Each EPK is monitored using custom internal analytics analyzing the “groove in your music” to help the artist profit from the distribution and monetization model linked up to their EPK.

To help with the distribution of EPK content, an array of specific social network applications and widgets “spread the word” and allow users on other networks to interact and explore artist content.

2)  Digital distribution and unique online monetization model for Music – an artist shouldn’t be locked into the 1 monetization model rather have an array of options to choose from when it comes to distributing their assets like audio, photos and merchandise. MusicHouse will have 3 monetization models for an artist to use. Therefore being able to mix and match to see what works. Because we believe in giving the artist control, we are providing 3 monetization models (to start with) for an artist to use to distribute their music.

3)  Online and Offline broadcast on radio stations world-wide through RockinTheShed (marketing arm of MusicHouse) and other planned shows. Essentially giving artists a fair go to get heard by millions of radio listeners. To get heard an artist has to build “credit” through a web of interconnected and aggregated fan voting systems, fair-share inbounds back to MusicHouse and other algorithms that we have planned under the bonnet.

Vision: “To be the one stop shop for artists / bands when they want to express themselves and reach new consumer markets by getting heard internationally both online and offline”

MusicHouse would help artists and bands to promote their music by creating their very own Electronic Press Kit (EPK) which enables a connection with musicians, promoters, fans and radio stations around the world. It is differentiated through a multitude of music services to enable a richer online experience, better monetization model, and unique, powerful, integrated offline exposure channel for member bands to achieve airtime at radio stations world-wide.

What the site looked like (in development)

EPK (Electronic Press Kit) - Audio player
EPK (Electronic Press Kit) - Audio player
EPK (Electronic Press Kit) - Other sections
EPK (Electronic Press Kit) - Other sections

Musichouse Business Architecture

How we planned to monetize

The site never saw day light (production launch) since RockinTheShed (its partner & complementary business) fell apart and we decided to wrap it up. Although the technical skills learnt building this site proved (and prove) to be extremely valuable assets today.

Ernest

RockinTheShed – signed or unsigned if it sounds good we wanna hear it

RockinTheShed was a weekly 2 hour Rock and Alternative radio station show delivering sounds from local and international artists blended with current news and happenings in the Rock and Alternative scene around the world. The show played across 12 radio stations geographically in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. We got to meet and interview many interesting and famous bands while expanding our broadcasting range.

Goal: “We wanted to help artists get heard on the radio.”
Mantra: “Signed or unsigned, if it sounds good we wanna hear it.” – and so breathed & worked towards that vision.

There was 4 of us. All long-time friends. Two of the co-founders were deep into the Australian rock scene with one already managing an Australian rock band called Viperose. We saw this as an opportunity help Viperose and like bands get heard on the radio and explode onto the music scene. We all love music and this was passion married with business.

Our online services

We provided online tools for artists, broadcasters & listeners of rockintheshed.com. Those included:

  • Artists/bands: “Get heard” upload tools for artists to upload their songs and band information. We also provided Marketing banners to get artists to help spread the good deed of RockinTheShed and get fans voting for their songs to get heard on RockinTheShed.
  • Radio Stations: A secure login facility to download the weekly edited 2 hr RockinTheShed show including a playlist. There they could also find few marketing fillers & advertisements radio stations could use in their daily broadcasting.
  • Fans/Consumers: Ability to vote upcoming (uploaded by artist) songs and listen to uploaded songs including past RockinTheShed weekly 2hr show. Top voted songs would end up in the upcoming show. This encouraged artists to help spread our marketing banners (mentioned above) thus in turn getting their song played on RockinTheShed.
  • Facebook radio app: Allowed Facebook users to listen to the latest 2hr weekly show with similar voting capabilities as the RockinTheShed website without leaving their social network. This was a hit since Facebook was just growing.
RockinTheShed Homepage
RockinTheShed Homepage

Trivial background history: One evening when trying to work out a logo for the business we threw around ideas about what RockinTheShed meant to each of us. I started sketching these ideas and came up with a design (bottom left) which later was professionally crafted (bottom right) and become our logo and branding.

The birth of RockinTheShed logo
The birth of RockinTheShed logo

Quick facts

Life span: 2 years
Co-founders: 4 – Dave Manna (Sydney’s top Music Producer), Artur (RockinTheShed host), Denis (a serial entrepreneur whom managed the band Viperose and is today the co-founder of embedster.com, a Y Combinator 2010 Alumni) and me (The tech geek).
Profitable?: Nope. Zilch. We had a long-term monetization plan once we built enough leverage.
Why terminated: Chewing too much of our money and some of the co-founders had started looking at other opportunities.

Top 5 things I learnt from this venture

  • 4 co-founders is a crowd. We had issues agreeing to decisions and at times felt like we were all stepping on each other’s toes. Maybe this was due to too many powerful personalities all at the same table but 4 definitely felt crowded.
  • Never relay on a 3rd party’s infrastructure for your “core” business. I didn’t like the idea that without the radio stations we could be gone. We had some trouble with 1 which proved to be a nightmare to manage but we survived and it left a sour taste. I decided after this to never build a business which relied on someone else’s infrastructure for the “core” of my business. This is like outsourcing your “core” business to someone else and hoping you will stay afloat – good luck!
  • Turn pains into solutions. We had certain internal issues with stuff forgetting to be done and late delivery of tasks. This meant our quality suffered. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of this I asked myself what can I do to solve this. Then one day it hit me and I built a tool over the weekend solving this problem (while watching all 3 Bourne Identity movies).
  • To minimize loses, run an unprofitable business only when there is a profitable one under your belt. If it wasn’t for the profits from WebAnt this business would have cost me a fortune to sustain. Yes it was a fun business and extremely valuable to artists.
  • Outsource your weakest parts. Neither of us were good at website design (look & feel). The 1st few iterations of our site proved this lol. Instead of wasting further time trying to come up with a design that sticks we decided to outsource the design. We ended up going with a designer through elance.com. Because we earlier also outsourced the final logo / branding we provided this designer with everything we had to create the new RockinTheShed website – and boy were we pleased.

I really enjoyed this business venture. It was fun. We got to go to many gigs, meet crazy and talented (sometimes both) bands & artists and it left us with wonderful memories. My band photography business (ernestsemerda.com) span off from this venture, I learnt how to build Facebook applications and Musichouse was born to complement RockinTheShed.

It was fun!

Ernest

My entrepreneurial life in Australia

I love tinkering and bringing ideas into reality. Seeing that idea come to life is amazing. The energy, thrill, excitement and daily challenges faced in order to bring an idea into reality is simply amazing. It’s true what Don Williams, Jr once said “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”.

Below I share with you my entrepreneurial journey in Australia building start-ups and the lessons I have acquired by taking them. Without these I would not be the man I am today.

  • WebAnt Analytics – a quantitative service providing a holistic web analytics and customer metrics solutions that allows you to get inside the mind of your online audience. This also included the famous InSite module which could generate “phantom customers” for automation & monitoring. We used a lot of interesting models I learnt during the course of my MBA studies to provide a unique selling proposition and differentiate ourself from our only competitor on the Australian market (at the time), Red Sheriff. And then came free Google Analytics (Urchin) and the show was over. To read more click here.
  • Ramify – a company that provided tools and objective ratings of unit trust funds and Unit Trust Fund Management Companies using both quantitative and qualitative data. It was to be a valuable service to the Unit Trust Funds industry participants including retail and institutional investors, financial planners, agents, banks, Unit Trust Management Companies, regulators, etc. This one took me to Malaysia, presentations to board members of RAM (Rating Agency Malaysia Berhad) and dinners with CEOs of financial banks. To read more click here.
  • RockinTheShed – A weekly 2 hour Rock and Alternative radio station show delivering sounds from local and international artists blended with current news and happenings in the Rock and Alternative arena. The show played across 12 radio stations geographically in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. We got to meeting & interview many interesting & famous bands and expand our broadcasting range. My band photography business span off from this venture. To read more click here.
  • Musichouse – A music ecosystem compromising of an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for artists & producers with exclusive access to online & offline (radio) broadcasting channels via RockinTheShed. We developed a number of monetization models to appeal to our target market. RockinTheShed served as an initial hook to get leverage for Musichouse. We had a great team of smart entrepreneurs like Dave Manna (Sydney’s top Music Producer), Artur (RockinTheShed host) and Denis who is today the co-founder of embedster.com (Y Combinator 2010 Alumni). To read more click here.

What’s next?

You tell me…

Ernest