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