The music industry is experiencing a renaissance with an influx of startups that give artists more control over their careers. Once thought to be a dying scene, the music business is reviving itself by changing, everything from how it's made and consumed, to how musicians are compensated for their work.
"The music model changed. The revenue streams have changed. The business has to be fluid, and adaptive," said Geoff Rickly, lead singer of the bands Thursday, No Devotion and United Nations. "Small companies are leading the way when it comes to adaptive behavior. I feel directly affected by every new idea whether it works or not."
These five startups are rearranging the way the music industry operates.
Brace Yourself PR
This independent firm, based in the UK with a New York location, approaches representation as an artist approaches making music, said founder of Brace Yourself PR, Ivano Maggiulli. "Every artist we represent is vital to our business model, to our name as an agency."
"Smaller firms are hungry and really have no choice but to innovate," Maggiulli told Business News Daily. "We get ideas from clients and labels about what they need, and get truly excited when we figure out a new way to accomplish their goals."
Brace Yourself offers its artists print, online, radio and TV placement under one roof and provides internationally coordinated campaigns. The firm has a rosterof more than 100 artists, including The 1975, Hot Hot Heat, Title Fight and Rickly's band No Devotion.
According to Maggiulli, in the past, labels would often have an in-house publicist that would take care of the publicity for any and every act that came through the door, regardless of whether they liked the artist or not.
"That left a lot of artists being represented by someone that didn't truly understand them and quite frankly, didn't have the time to change that," he said. "We only work with artists that we believe [in], understand and can help."
"How we tell an artist's story is changing and that is important because that story is vital," added Rickly, who also serves as the general manager of Brace Yourself PR's New York office. "We want to be able to tell the artist's story in a way that convinces a casual listener to press play on their music and, hopefully, fall in love."
Love music and mobile games? UpNext might be a great fit for you. Currently in its beta stage, UpNext marries music discovery and social networking "to maximize exposure for new and emerging artists."
"The objective of the game is to scout talent to build the best label possible. The talent is actual music from upcoming artists," said Ayinde Arnett co-founder and CEO of UpNext, who describes the service as a mix between SoundCloud and fantasy sports.
Users sign artists to their label and then earn points towards their label score based on the success of their artists.
"Success is measured by engagement metrics within the app and real-life social presence externally," Arnett said. "Users can build their brand as a label by interacting with and promoting their artists."
Ultimately every user is competing amongst their peers to see who has the best ear for music and can recognize talent first, he said.
The app is currently in beta, however, you can request access to it via the website.
GigTown, founded by entrepreneur Andy Altman and his father, Steve (the former president and vice chairman of Qualcomm), considers itself to be a "one-stop-shop" for everything local music. The free app makes it easy for venues, musicians and fans to interact, and creates new opportunities for artists to find paying gigs through its "Post-A-Gig" feature, among other capabilities.
"By creating new gig opportunities, [GigTown is] bringing the local music communities together and inspiring collaboration and mutual support for each other," Altman said. "It's not easy to be a local artist, and we are creating a positive change for local music communities as a whole."
According to GigTown's website, fans have the ability to send artists a monetary tip and a message, directly through the app. There are multiple payment options and artists will receive their earnings once a week, along with Check-In tips.
"Every artist has to start somewhere," Altman said. "Having a platform to get your music heard by local fans, and then get booked or tipped by those fans makes it so much easier to build an artist's foundation for their career as a whole."
Soundtrack Your Brand
Soundtrack Your Brand (SYB) is a Spotify-backed company for the B2B music market, founded by Ola Sars (former Beats Music co-founder and COO) and Andreas Liffgarden (former Spotify business developer). The company is a subscription-based streaming service, licensed for commercial and public spaces.
"Both of us are music entrepreneurs, and with Soundtrack Your Brand, we set out to grow the global music market by reshaping the business-to-business music space," Sars said. "We’ve built [a] powerful and versatile streaming platform for commercial use."
According to Sars, businesses have been forced to play music by archaic means: a large chunk of businesses still play CDs, satellite radio, webcasts or use home-brewed mp3 playlists. With the trend toward digitization in physical retail, music can become an important tool in distinguishing your brand, keeping customers and employees happy, and growing sales, Sars said.
"The B2B-music market is lagging a decade behind the consumer market, and with SYB we set out to transform how businesses and brands relate to and use music," Sars said. "Just like [Spotify] previously contributed to reshaping the consumer market for music through improved personalization, curation for brands is just as important."
Startup LiveXLive is looking to enhance not only the live music experience, but the streaming one as well. According to the website, the platform offers mobile-streaming capabilities for live music events, including music festivals with multiday and multistage coverage, unique concerts, intimate performances and programming. It features all genres of music, including rock, pop, indie, alternative, EDM, country.
"What we're building is both a tool and platform for artists to share their content with fans across the world, the majority of which wouldn't have the ability to attend these shows in-person," said Schuyler Hoversten, chief revenue officer of LiveXLive.
LiveXLive is also helping artists promote merchandise, new singles, upcoming tours, and even sell tickets, VIP access or fan club memberships within the stream.
"We'd like to be what MTV once was to the consumer — the mobile, digital destination for the best content in music," Hoversten said. "We hope to be a digital network where fans can virtually transport themselves around the world in an instant to experience their favorite artists live."
Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.