Startup Watch: MixMatchMusic Targets The Remix Craze
Tucked away in the garage of a house on a quiet San Mateo street is where MixMatchMusic is based and that's where I met two of the three founders -- Charles Feinn and Alan Khalfin.
This startup has developed a set of sophisticated online tools that allow bands to collaborate from remote locations, and also publish their music in a format that allows their fans to remix their songs.
MixMatchMusic is busy building a community of musicians and their fans, centered around its online tools and services. Its revenues will come from a share of royalties from the sale of remixed songs and ringtones; professional web services to musicians; and advertising support from an $18 billion global B2B industry selling instruments and related services.
The idea for the company started when the founders wanted to collaborate on creating music but they were scattered around the country.
"We are all musicians and we love playing together, and we were in bands when we were at school. But these days we live in different parts of the country. We wanted to come up with a way in which we could still make music together," says Charles Feinn, CEO.
Along with the third co-founder Derek Prothro, they incorporated in February 2007 and began developing a way of being able to upload individual tracks, called stems, and mix them online. They knew that their technology would be useful to other musicians, but they also believed that bands could engage their fans by offering them an easy way to remix their songs.
Great minds think alike. Last year, supergroup Radiohead launched a remix competition that was wildly popular, with more than 6 million visitors, that generated 2,200 remixes at $5 per entry.
That was excellent news for the MixMatchMusic founders because it confirmed that they were on the right track.
"Radiohead had to invest a lot of money to develop their own software and infrastructure for their remix competition. But with our technology, we've made it possible for any band to launch a remix competition for less than $100," says Alan Khalfin, CFO.
Bands publish a MixMatchMusic competition widget that can be embedded in web pages, or on MySpace and other social networks, taking advantage of the viral support of their fans. A simple user interface, similar to that of Apple's familiar Garageband application, lets anyone remix songs from a library of stems.
"Some of the remixes from fans are better than the originals," says Mr Feinn.
MixMatchMusic has also built the commercial infrastructure to support its community of musicians and remixers--a digital rights management system that lets everyone share in any sales.
"If someone wants to buy a remix it costs $1. We split 85 percent of that among everyone that contributed stems to that remix. This helps our community to continue to create new music," says Mr Khalfin. "And it also helps calm any paranoia that musicians might have about releasing stems -- we are able to track everything." It helps that Mr Khalfin is a lawyer and specializes in music industry legal issues.
The company also has plans to offer professional services to bands that would provide them with a private online remix studio where only they and their producers collaborate on projects.
And to help spread its remixes, or any musical content, it has launched a service similar to Tinyurl, called tra.kz, "the URL shortener for all things music." (The kz stands for Kazakhstan.)
MixMatchMusic has come far on bootstrap funding of around $400,000 and it is now looking for Series A funding to help it expand.
Mr Feinn admits that these are not the best times for raising money. "But we do have some interest from potential investors, hopefully we'll have some good news soon." And it doesn't hurt that MixMatchMusic was received a coveted DEMOgod award last year at the DEMO conference, a launch pad for many successful ventures..
With or without Series A funding, the team is moving ahead and rolling out new services over the next few months, and working hard to build up its online community.
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