Southern California--and particularly, Los Angeles--has always been a center of the music business, which makes it unsurprising that there are many, music-focused startups which end up starting here. One of them is online music events site Loudvine (www.loudvine.com), which was co-founded by Vic Caretti, who gave us the scoop on what the site is all about.
What is Loudvine?
Vic Caretti: It's pretty simple. The genesis of this, is it's all about the music. We're creating a platform that highlights musicians, venues, and local fans. It gives them an opportunity to connect with specific events happening, or which will be happening in your own city. When I started this, I realized that people liked going out to live shows and music, but they kept missing out on bands who were playing in their area. I had requests from friends to put them on an email, or give them a calendar reminder when a band was playing, and one thing led to another, and I started the site.
What's your background and how did you get into this?
Vic Caretti: It's rather diverse. I actually worked in the offline business world until Web 1.0. I then was recruited into a Silicon Valley startup, backed by Kleiner Perkins. I got the bug from that startup, plus the hard work and work ethic of bootstrapping. I ended up doing consulting work for high tech companies in the San Francisco Bay Area in the software messaging area, and then came back to Los Angeles doing corporate sales for 3M, of all things. But, I was really passionate about music, and technology, and the convergence of the two, and wanted to see if I could built out my own business.
Where is the site now, in terms of launch?
Vic Caretti: The site was launched in April of 2008. We wanted to do some testing ni Los Angeles, and quickly expanded to four cities. It's now live in fourteen cities, and we're now launching two to three cities a month. We're also self funded, and absolutely have no need for venture capital. We're really focused on building a one stop, hyperlocal music experience across the United States. We've also got a really interesting API and social tools, which we are going to be rolling out in the next few months. At the end of the day, it's something we've built for the artist, which helps them connect with people in local cities. We are seeing lots of traction in the 14 cities we are live in, and people are wanting to work with us, including bands, PR people, management firms, the venues themselves, and local advertisers. It's been a really organic and vital process which is startin to pay off.
How have you been growing the site and getting the word about your services?
Vic Caretti: The growth of the site has been absolutely by word of mouth, and viral. We have done lots of social media campaigns, and we have really collected with the music ecosystem, such as labels, bands, venues, press, management, and street teams. We also have a very popular blog on our site, where we only mention one band a day, and we have lots of bands, artists, and labels vying for that position. We've also been reaching out to all the people we know. It's really been word of mouth, really viral, because we've never advertised. It's just grown on its own.
How does this work as business?
Vic Caretti: When I started this in 2008, I didn't even look at the business model. I just wanted to create a service to communicate and find local music. As traffic trends upwards, different people are finding and doing business with the site. There are a few essential business models. First, there is advertisement revenue, which is happening right now. That's now what we're advertising. How we want to grow is a subscription model, and the third is we license our content fields. We deal with so much data on a hyperlocal basis, we are finding bigger sites are approaching us about feeding them events. So, it's a combination of ads, subscriptions, and licensing of the content.
As an observer of what's happening with the music and Internet, what do you think is the most interesting trend nowadays?
Vic Caretti: There are so many things happening in the music and technology space. One of the most interesting things, is artists are no longer are depending on music labels. There are so many artists who are do-it-yourself artists. They are using their brand, merchandise, and connecting their music with fans, and then are able to fill auditoriums across the country. That's a really amazing experience, which I think is liberating for musicians. They really just want their music to be heard. One thing I do see is that many artists are obsessed with social media numbers, figuring out how many fans they have, how many likes, how many comments. I think though, that one of the things bands need to focus on is just making good music. Good music actually does the marketing for them. Rather than just trying to follow the next trend, if at the end of the day people won't attend a local show, there is nothing for you to do as an artist.
What’s your advice for musicians on the Internet--if you were a musician, what do you think you ought to be doing?
Vic Caretti: Musicians need to focus on making great music. Without them, our lives would be pretty bland. The second thing, is they need to crowdsource what they are doing online. They need to work with their database or email list, and get those one or two super fans who are really driven by your music, and the music experience you bring to them, and get them to evangelize about what you are about. Musicians now have so many options for their music to be heard--whether that is on radio, online, streaming, video, branding opportunities, etc.--it can be a bit overwhelming. So, they need to figure out ways to get people they trust to help them tap into social media and emerging trends, like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Gowalla, so that they can create a unique experience for their fans, and help those fans connect with the music, and so they anticipate seeing them live. It's a bit daunting as a musician having to deal with everything yourself. But, I'd really emphasize connecting with your fans and super fans, and being really active and engage on daily basis with social media and email marketing, to let people know they can be a part of the experience.
Thanks, and good luck!