Launched last month, GrooveZoo (www.groovezoo.com) aims to connect songwriters, musicians, producers and other members of the music-making business by helping them share and collaborate on music projects.
Santa Cruz, California-based GrooveZoo‘s service is built around a custom file management tool system where users upload, download and manage audio files to and from their local digital audio workstations. The tool allows them to assign files to mixes within the sessions, for example, and invite others to audition and work on their mixes. “With the launch of GrooveZoo, musicians finally have a truly great online tool they can use to connect and create with one another,” says GrooveZoo founder and CEO Jeremy Korn. “We do more than just bring musicians together through their common interests. GrooveZoo takes this to a whole new level by cataloging everything from a member’s playing style and skill level to the exact gear they use. The results will allow musicians to join forces and leverage each others’ strengths, in turn raising the quality of their compositions and production.”
Korn should know something about the needs of musicians. He’s been playing music since the age of nine, and got his first guitar at 14. He was playing gigs by the time he was 17 and headed to music college. “After two years of formal music training, I saw a path to integrate music and my natural math and science skills by learning how to design musical equipment,” Korn shares. He entered engineering school to study electrical engineering, and opted for software programming for all his electives. After graduation, Korn worked for Dolby Laboratories, Apple Computer, and TOA Electronics before opening his own recording studio, Akorn Studios, in 2001.
“I’ve spent the last 12 years mostly producing, but have rekindled my passion for playing live music with my group Mojokorn,” says Korn.
One Good Idea
GrooveZoo is Korn’s third startup. Three years ago, Korn’s angel investor told him to look for him if he had a good idea. He waited till he found the perfect combination of market opportunity and the skill set that he’s developed over three decades. “I knew GrooveZoo was it, and so did my investor after a 30-minute presentation. Based on this, we are funded well enough to keep us going for quite a while.”
Aside from connecting musicians, Korn says that another key aspect of GrooveZoo is that the site helps protect musicians’ rights with contracts. GrooveZoo sessions include integrated contracts that outlines, for example, if each party agrees to a royalty split or work together on a for-hire basis. “This protects both parties and lets them move forward, confident that the business details are completely in place,” Korn explains. “Furthermore, these contracts are written in laymen’s terms – instead of legalese – and can be completed and digitally signed in seconds.”
“It’s amazing to me that the industry in moving towards Creative Commons when contracts are difficult to put in place.”
When music is sold through the site, the money is automatically split and entered into each musicians account. “By enabling them to improve their production quality, protect their intellectual properly, and receive money for their efforts, we are putting musicians and producers back on a path to monetizing their efforts again.”
Facing The Music
GrooveZoo has 14 specialists each working on different aspects of the business, ranging from software architecture, AJAX programming, user experience to promotions, artist relations, legal, and finance. Korn says he assembled this team and launched the site, all in a mere five months. “(The) real key is that the site is not just a website, but is truly an extensible online application,” Korn says. “It’s been designed as a modular system where users can customize their own pages and workflows.”
“Furthermore, we can quickly develop new modules in weeks, instead of months, which is key in meeting future market demands and creating integrated partnerships.”
The music business is evolving like never before, spurred on in part – some say mostly – by the digital revolution. Korn concurs. “The music industry is changing much like musical chairs. Everyone’s been unseated and a few chairs are removed every month. Eventually this will settle, and the people who understand technology and the new social paradigm that is taking shape will have the remaining seats,” he says, but adding that it holds a lot of opportunities as well. “The challenge is handing the details associated with delivering a quality product with new, regularly released features, and maintaining a strategic, birds-eye view.”
Stay Away From “Easy Money”
Korn has very strong views on entrepreneurship, which are largely based on the past and present states of the country’s economy.
“We are currently in tough economic times, not because something external happened to America, but what we’ve done to ourselves. There are way too many so-called experts and books stating that money is easy to make, or worse that it will make your rich if you just put it in the right spot,” Korn rages. “The fact is that all money, including interest, grows by joining money with effort. More specifically, joining it with specialized effort to create a differentiated product.
“The greed of ‘easy money’ has not only raped our economy but is also making true entrepreneurship a lost art. Hard work is at the core of any success, whether it be personal, spiritual, or financial. I’m not referring to just a day or week’s worth of sweat, but a relentless journey that is born from deep-rooted passion. And passion of this type only comes from a clean, pure, egoless desire to make the world a better place.”
“In other words, develop a crazy, mad skill at something and leverage the hell out of it.”