First Ever: Seattle vs NYC DJ Battle And Dance Party on Turntable.fm This Thursday Night

This is AWESOME!  A first of its kind and history in the making.

Seattle DJ ‘s will do battle against NYC DJ ‘s for turntable.fm supremacy, with an accompanying Dance Party physically and virtually both in Seattle and NYC.  The fun begins at 8pm and will go to 1am the next morning in their own respective timezones.  They will time shift the battle, so NYC will start at 9PM EDT and go ahead and Seattle will begin at 9PM PDT. After the event the winners will be posted on the Turntable Battle leader board.

Anyone not in Seattle or NYC can go to turntablebattle.com on July 28th to join in and listen to the two battle rooms .

Here are some event details:

  • 10 DJs on turntable.fm
  • 5 DJs on-stage at each location
  • 2 Physical Rooms (One in Seattle another in NYC)
  • 2 Virtual Room both in turntable.fm
  • House, Techno, Electo House and Dubstep – with some surprises thrown in there.
  • Battle Starts at 9:00 PM PDT

Tickets for the Seattle event are on sale here.

Tickets for the New York event are on sale here.

DJs who will be involved in NYC are posted here:

DJs who will be involved in Seattle are posted here:

What is Turntable Battle?

Turntable Battle (TTB) is a site that focuses on bridging the physical and virtual worlds of DJ Battles and dance parties using turntable.fm.  They host multi-city events across the world that pull music enthusiasts together both in dance clubs and virtual dance rooms. TTB wants to elevate and extend the user experience by letting people know which DJs are on-top of the leader-boards, providing interactivity between two different venues during an event as well as highlight fresh, innovative music from up incoming music producers and DJs.

Founder Ali Daniali has a vision of using Turntable.fm to transform the current DJ industry.  “I envision TTB just getting better every time we put on an event that moves attendees and engages them in a way they haven’t before. We feel that if we can put on events that people can’t get anywhere else, they will come back for more!

Talk about innovation being the mother of necessity.  “TTB came out a need I had when I wanted to attend a NYC dance party and the flight was around $800. So I said to myself I’ll just have my own dance party!  Then I had the next epiphany, to pit us against NYC in a DJ Battle.

During the event attendees within the virtual world on turntable.fm have the opportunity to AWESOME the DJ, giving them a point. You can only vote once for each DJ playing.  TTB will tally the points for each room and announce the winning city on the turntablebattle.com website.  Winning DJs get exclusive prizes from TTB.

The Seattle event will have one DJ selected from a DJ Battle which happened exclusively on turntable.fm this past week.  The tournament had 5 rounds, with the first four events pre-qualifying DJs for Round 5. The winner of Round 5 will move on to perform either on-stage or virtually at the main event on the 28th.  Information about the on-going DJ Battle can be found here.

Daniali is excited at the prospect of Turntable Battle and looks forward to putting on others around the nation.  “My focus now is to build a meaningful company that produces events at very high quality level that bring people together and makes them happy.”

He is thinking about doing some of these battles next – LA vs. Vegas or Denver vs. Dallas or Atlanta vs. Miami.  You can vote on these soon on turntablebattle.com.

Advertisements

An Exclusive Interview with Sir-Mix-A-Lot Baby!

Giant Thinkwell, a social game studio based in Seattle launched a new Facebook game today called Mix-N-Match that features Grammy Award-winning hip hop icon, Sir Mix-A-Lot.  Mix n Match brings you and your friends along side Sir Mix-A-Lot to hang out, learn more about the entertainer, win stuff and have a good time.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Sir Mix-A-Lot and Giant Thinkwell CEO Adam Tratt today for a little chat about the new project as well as the recent changes in the entertainment industry.  When you sit with Mix, you get the feeling this man knows what’s going on.  He is curious, quick witted as well as forward thinking.  You also get the feeling he is not done yet.  Here is an excerpt of our interview.

What attracted you to Giant Thinkwell?

These guys are geniuses.  From my perspective, a guy who came along in an era where you were distant from your fans, not by design, that is just how it was.  It was all systematic.  They produced the record, they distributed the record, they promoted the record, you wait till you get the call.  The way you sell records now is totally different.  These Giant Thinkwell guys are rock stars.  They are the mega pimps of this era, and they understand it really is about connecting with fans.  They get it!

What did you do back then in the day?

It was really the label.  They had a team of people who scripted how you were going to do things.  They did everything.  As an artist you were very removed from it all.  Most guys have just pulled back.  My manager has been talking about this stuff for a long time.  And now today, your fans know everything, like what time you take your dumps in the morning to what kind of underwear you are wearing, ya know?

Adam, is this Giant Thinkwell’s first app?

No, but it is our second.  So our story is the company was born at Start-up weekend.  In the beginning of social games it was the Wild West, and  Zynga was doing whatever they wanted on Facebook.  Now, everyone else is now clamoring for a piece of it.  Zynga already has their customer base of 500 million players.  What we realized is there is very little in the area of Branded Entertainment, and what is out there is really not that good.  So we thought, why don’t we take 2 things people love, social games and entertainment and put them together?

Where do you see this category of apps going?

Adam: What’s happening on the sidelines in entertainment is the whole model is changing, people aren’t buying records much any more.  It’s all changed.  Entertainers and celebrities of all kinds musicians, actors, athletes, will be interacting with their fans on line, in fact they do it already.  Social media right now is about talking AT your fans.  So we think the model is going to change.  The bar is going up. We think the way a guy like Mix announces and releases a new song will change.  And we want to be a part of it.

Mix: from an artist perspective, this is the first time in my career I can shape my brand, my personality.  They used to think “OK, this is a dumb guy who likes Big Butts and asses” (according to Mix only part of that is true) because that is how I was promoted by the record labels.  But now, I come down to meet with the Giant Thinkwell team and they don’t go, “this is what we’re doing”, they say “what should we do?”  Finally I am able to deal with my fans one-on-one on my terms with my personality.  It’s great!  I predicted the demise of the music industry back in 1999.  So today, I’m not like Lady Gaga and the way she is with her fans, but it’s on my own terms.  You are your own marketing firm now.  The gangsta element of record business is gone forever.

Do you think it’s a better time to be a musician?

Good Question.  From an old school cats point of view, no it’s not a better time cause back then we were spoiled.  But a new artist just breaking in, yes it is.  Because Music is more honest now.   You can get your stuff out into people’s hands in so many different ways.  So the cream is going to rise and the good ones will break out naturally.

You’ve seen success, what is the most important characteristic of successful people?

Mindset.  I have never met a successful person who talked about failing.  The glass is always half full.  I don’t even like being around negative talkers.  And secondly, they always figure out a way to monetize something.  You find a hole in the market, find what people don’t have enough of… and you supply it.  There is a big difference between those people who have the entrepreneurial spirit and those who are talented, but scared of themselves.  They are always sitting in the corner, shivering, wondering why they can’t make it.  Successful people jump at opportunity and take advantage of it.

What keeps you going?

Anything new.  I just started new company called True Human Interface, software to help people make music easier.  Right now we are finishing the brains of the software and we’re thinking sometime early next year we’ll have something released.  If you look at a lot of the older artists, the only ones who are still profiting are the ones trying these new things.  Our goal is to come out with a strong, serious product.  I was watching them edit True Grit, and they edited the whole thing with mouse and keyboard.  It was crazy!  We think we can have some good ideas to help make things easier.

What advice to you have for young entrepreneurs?

Make sure that you have  is unique and necessary, make sure your dream is viable.  Second, don’t be afraid to fire someone early if they are not the right fit.  You need to make sure you have the right people in the right places.  Lastly, don’t be afraid of criticism.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Story of How Pandora Radio Almost Died

I love the Pandora Radio app on my iphone.  I listen to music most of the day – in my room or around the house, in my car, outside walking around – and this is possible only because of internet connected mobile devices.  Pandora Radio just recently went public on the NYSE and looks to have a strong future.  It wasn’t always so bright, this is a story of persistence and hanging on by a thread.   MG Siegler of Techcrunch had a great write-up on Pandora the day of their IPO, I think it’s so I will re-post it below.  I like it because you get a sense these founders would not give up on their vision and persevered through much trial and tribulation.

————

Pandora was founded in 2000, but it wasn’t known as “Pandora” at the time. Instead, the company was focused on their Music Genome Project, which aimed to extract the DNA from music, as it were, and find commonalities to perfect recommendations. When Conrad joined in 2004, the company was known as Savage Beast — yes, a truly awful name that invokes Savage Garden. In fact, here’s an early blog post from Conrad about Savage Beast that he probably won’t be pleased with me sharing.

When Conrad came on board, the company had just taken its first real venture capital investment (from Walden Ventures) and Joe Kennedy had just been hired as CEO. The idea was to transform the Music Genome Project from a cool piece of technology that was licensed out to the likes of Best Buy, and (our parent) AOL, among others, to a consumer-facing product. That effort began in December 2004, with design work leading up to that. By the late summer of 2005, the product was ready to go.

And here’s where things get really interesting.

“TechCrunch is a part of this,” Conrad says. “We launched, and the first Barcamp was the following Saturday. I got out of bed that morning and almost didn’t go. But at the last minute, I threw my laptop in the car and drove to Palo Alto,” he says. “By luck, Mike was in the room.”

He means, of course, Mike Arrington.

“He got up when it was over, went to a Starbucks, I think, and wrote a post about Pandora. That was the starter pistol for our early growth,” Conrad says. And thanks to the magic of the Internet, you too can see that post from August 20, 2005 right here (note the part where Arrington tries to give out invites from his personal email address, then gives up due to massive interest).

Conrad notes that TechCrunch itself was “about 45 days old” at that point. And he fondly remembers Arrington being annoyed with him that the Pandora launch wasn’t given to him as an exclusive. “At that point, he was just some blogger to me,” Conrad says with a laugh.

But that didn’t stop Conrad from showing up at Arrington’s house over the next several months for the BBQs Arrington used to host in his backyard. Conrad recalls that Pandora music streaming from his laptop would often be the musical entertainment for the evening “while we stood around his little campfire”.

From that point on, Pandora “grew at a pace that exceeded my expectations,” Conrad says noting that millions of users were coming on in just the opening years.

But then the CRB decided the royalties for this new form of radio, Internet radio, needed to be set. Conrad notes that after Pandora was live for about a year and a half, those rates were revealed — and they weren’t good. “It was economically unsound,” he says. “And it wasn’t just us that was affected; Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, and a lot of smaller guys too.” At that point, Pandora entered into a two-year-long process of negotiating with the record labels over royalties that led to the situation described at the beginning of this post. “This was a complicated period for us,” Conrad says.

But there was also a ray of hope that emerged during this time. The App Store.

Conrad notes that when the iPhone OS 3 (remember, it wasn’t “iOS” at the time) launched in the summer of 2008 and brought the third-party-friendly App Store for the first time, everything changed. “Broadly, the smartphone category accelerated everything for us,” he says, noting that the App Store was the catalyst.

“What we’re really trying to do is re-invent radio. It was consumed everywhere, but least of all at work, and the web browser changed that,” Conrad says. “But the mobile devices took it out of the browser and out into the world,” he continues. Now over half of Pandora’s usage comes on smartphone devices, he says. And that’s incredible since Pandora had been on feature phones for about a year prior to the App Store, but it wasn’t going anywhere. With the iPhone, “the consumer expectation of what they could do with their phone changed drastically,” he says.

Conrad also points out that Nielsen had a recent study which put Pandora in the top five apps in terms of usage on major devices — iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry. He believes they’re the only company in the top five on each of those devices.

So the App Store helped Pandora’s mood in an otherwise bleak time. “The timelines do overlap in an interesting way,” Conrad says. But at the same time, he says that he was never too concerned for Pandora having to completely shut down. “The [royalty] rates were so irrational that we were very confident through the period that we would come to a compromise with the rights’ holders,” he says. At the same time, he credits the “incredible outpouring of support from our listeners” as the thing that really motivated Congress to start looking into the situation.

“It was frustrating that it went on for so long, but we thought rationality would prevail,” Conrad says. And even after “RIP, Good Times”, hit in late 2008, he wasn’t too worried because “we focused on the monetization of the product from the beginning.” “Other companies were behind the eight ball, but we were starting to see the rewards from that attention to revenue,” he says.

And then in the middle of 2009, the clouds broke. Pandora (and other Internet radio services) reached an agreement that would lower royalties to the point where the business could work. “Pandora is finally on safe ground with a long-term agreement for survivable royalty rates,” Conrad told us at the time.

“A real period of growth started then.” And today, Pandora has over 94 million registered users.

Story courtesy of Techcrunch