Beats and SoundCloud rumors goose music tech confab – USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO – There seemed to be a spring in the step of attendees at Tuesday’s SF Music Tech Summit, a bounce that hasn’t always visited this low-key confab of sonically inclined techies.
Credit industry rumors about Apple buying Beats Electronics and Twitter potentially circling SoundCloud. The Apple-Beats buzz was heightened by the sudden withdrawal from a “Price of Music” panel by Beats Music’s Dave Allen, director of artist and music industry advocacy for the nascent streaming audio service.
“I don’t think anyone’s surprised a company like Apple is interested in Beats,” says Andrew Stess, chief revenue officer of Toronto-based LyricFind, whose company provides lyrics for apps and services such as Shazaam, Soundhound and Pandora. “Sometimes you can build them, sometimes you have to buy them.”
LyricFind announced a deal with Universal Music Publishing Group at the summit. Brian Zisk, executive producer of the 1,000-plus attendee event, says his industry is “hitting an inflection point, where if you’re a big company you can consider adding (the audio clip-sharing site) SoundCloud to your portfolio without the risk of SoundCloud being sued out of existence.”
Bringing a popular music-focused play into your fold “instantly gives you a competitive advantage over others who don’t have it yet,” Zisk adds.
But some music-techies wonder whether an Apple purchase of a streaming service like Beats Music isn’t too little too late.
“Streaming is fast becoming a legacy product,” says Jason Peltz, CEO of New York-based Slyde, a just-launched app focused on promotion of album singles. “We think people increasingly are hungering for a different experience.”
That experience would of course be Peltz’s Slyde, which he likens to the “pure discovery” of old-school record stores. Slyde is launching with 20 singles from indie bands such as Berlin’s Hundreds, and is set up to allow fans to listen to a track while sliding from liner notes to photos to videos.
“We’re not trying to compete with iTunes, but instead create a free promotional space (supported by native ads) that gives managers one place for all their artists’ assets,” says Slyde chief creative officer Ed Ludvigsen.
Slyde’s small booth at the summit’s Japantown hotel conference room was crowded much of the morning as the casual-dress crowd swapped cards and drank lattes from the SoundHound-sponsored coffee stand. The day was filled with panels on topics such as “Is Your Startup Ready for Venture Capital?” and “A Conversation on Copyright.”
Among the other interesting plays at the summit:
• Denis Ouellette showed off Wimbo, an app featuring 25 songs that the part-time musician has broken down into separate vocal and instrument tracks. He’s sold some 4,000 songs at $2.99 each since its Dec. 1 launch, and hopes to add more tunes soon.
“We’re in an age of customization, and music needs to be the same way,” says Denver-based Ouellette. “So for someone who just wants to hear the piano on their favorite song, I can provide that.” He fired up Steve Miller’s The Joker and flicked a finger to remove first the vocals, then guitar, then drums.
• Musicians who find that LinkedIn is too broad for their niche needs may soon have help from Musicians Guild, a targeted networking resource aiming for a fall debut.
“Whether you need help sourcing a second oboe player for your orchestra or directions to get to a gig or want to just jam with friends, we want to give musicians one place to connect,” says Terry Shields, the San Jose company’s product manager.
• Carting around what looked like a series of album covers was Jeff Annison, chairman of the New York Rock Exchange, which for between $20 and $50 a “share” gives fans a numbered certificate that can contain everything from an unreleased acoustic single to a rare colored-vinyl album.
“It gives fans a way to really identify with their favorite artist, and artists both a new source of revenue and a deeper connection with their audience,” says the affable Annison, who has struck deals with The Zombies, Rodney Atkins and a half dozen other artists. “You get something tangible versus just a line in a playlist.”