On Wednesday, I hosted an event with the Music Startup Meetup at USV. I’ve been a co-organizer of this meetup for the past year with Frank Denbow. The goal is to provide support for entrepreneurs building innovative companies in the music space.
This week, Larry Mills, the VP of Strategic Marketing at Sony/ATV publishing was our guest speaker. His talk discussed the current way of things in the music industry as they relate to startups, which offered a good reality check for the entrepreneurs. It was interesting to understand the thought process of “the other side” of publishing, particularly as it pertains to making deals.
Among many things, I found his most interesting point to be that “Hip-Hop is the new Metal” and that “Electronic music is the new Hip-Hop.” He cites the two Odd Future album releases as his prime example. In spring 2011, Tyler the Creator released Goblin which sold 180,000* records. In the spring of 2012, the entire Odd Future collective released The OF Tape, Vol. 2 which also sold 180,000* records. There was no growth. He recognizes that this is the same thing that happened to Metal in the late 80s.
He then stated that electronic dance music, unlike Hip-Hop, is the genre most prime for disruption. It is made up of many smaller labels that are “raising their hand” to be incorporated in new companies. Furthermore, the Dance audience is much more “tech-savvy,” net-native, and affluent than the audience of other music genres.
So there you go — if you’re starting a music technology company, look at electronic dance music to bootstrap it. The publishers want your business, and the audience is waiting for you. I don’t completely buy the argument that Hip-Hop is dying, but I absolutely think we should think outside of the box when it comes to starting new music companies.
*The 180,000 records number is one that Larry provided. I haven’t double-checked it.