founder

Founder Profile: The Music Industry Veteran Breathing Life Into Music Streaming

Summary

We all know Spotify and Pandora as the music streaming services of choice these days if for nothing else, they are the most widely known. But do they do enough for music fans and are they really the end-all-be-all for listening to music?

 

Tyler Lenane, Co-Founder & CEO of Gimme Radio doesn’t think so and after checking out the app, diving deep into discussion on his new music streaming service / community and learning more about the gaps in services like Spotify and Pandora, I am excited about the possibility Gimme Radio has to create a better music fan experience.

 

While most music services try and throw as much popular music as possible at you, Gimme Radio goes deep building engagement and community around music unlike anything you have seen to date. He is also a fantastic Founder and one of those individuals that is hard not to want to back. Check out our entire discussion below.

Chris Lustrino

Tyler, you have spent a good deal of your career in the digital music space. Talk to me about how that shaped your decision to build Gimme Radio?

Tyler Lenane

I spent over a decade in executive and management level positions at places like Apple Music, Beats Music, and Rhapsody – in that time period I saw the same music services built, the same partnerships launched and the same deals executed.

Spotify today is not a whole lot different from what Rhapsody was when I first started in digital music in 2006.  In fact two of our other co-founders, our COO and our Chief Product Officer, also shared this same opinion from their years in executive positions in digital streaming (Google Play, Rhapsody, Beats Music, 8tracks, Live365).

Myself and the other founders saw that all of these services had lost touch with what it means to be a fan of music. They let Facebook and Twitter run the social part of music while the digital services focused on deliverability and building catalogs of 50 million tracks, most of which never get listened to.

We saw that as a huge opportunity – create a music service that resonate with the fan who is more passionate, more loyal, more engaged and more valuable than the casual listener. Give them many ways to express their fandom within the service and they will be customers for a very long time.

Chris Lustrino

For skeptics of another music streaming business, what differentiates Gimme Radio from a Pandora, Spotify or Apple Music?

Tyler Lenane

Gimme Radio is not a just music streaming service, it’s a platform that allows fans to build and participate in a community. Streaming is just one of the tools we use. So that’s the single biggest difference – the community.  

On Gimme Radio today fans from all over the world can communicate directly with each other and also have direct access to the artists they love in a special live chat we’ve built.  

None of those other services you list do anything close to what we’ve done to connect fans and artists. And because we focus on specific genres we are able to have an authentic voice – the fans know this immediately and that’s why they stay and tell their friends and help us grow the community.   

It’s really amazing to see people from all over the world strike up friendships and then meet each other off the service –  in person. On any given day you’ll see people from Jakarta, Lisbon, Los Angeles talking about music, sharing stories and building relationships. I’ve worked at 4 music services, and I can tell you that this is just not happening anywhere else.   

The second biggest difference is that we really do have curation by trusted human sources. We do not use algorithms and we do not build mood or activity driven playlists. We have real DJs who are the most respected people in the genre playing the music that they love and that influences them.  

In metal it’s people like Dave Mustaine founder of Megadeth, in country it’s artist like Brandy Clark. These DJs are not just playing the songs, but sharing stories and information that really makes the music come to life.  It’s no secret that radio is the best way to truly discover music – it’s just been forgotten. Gimme is bringing that magic back.

Chris Lustrino

Can you talk about what your customers look like to date and how much money they tend to spend with your service?

Tyler Lenane

Our customers on the metal service are people from every corner of the globe who have, until Gimme launched, been ignored by the other music services. Metalheads are passionate, loyal and they are rabid collectors.

We have listeners who listen 200 hours a month and make over 2,000 comments in our live feed every month. We have listeners who have spent over $1,000 dollars in o ur store since we launched it 20 months ago – that would take 8 years to spend on Apple Music or Spotify at $9.99 per month.

At the core, though we are looking for that passionate fan. Our early research identified that the fan that spends 4X what the average music consumer spends on music, roughly $40. Our biggest fans, are spending very close to that mark – just on Gimme Radio.  

Our fans are spending roughly $25 per month on our products through our e-commerce store and our first digital subscription for archive listening ($4.99/mo). As we grow, we are learning how to build better products that entice more spend while also balancing that against keeping the funnel large and the free experience exciting.

Chris Lustrino

What type of traction have you seen to date just in the metal vertical you have rolled out and what has some of the feedback been regarding the service?

Tyler Lenane

We have had over 132,000 people sign up for Gimme Radio from all over the world. In our live feed these fans refer to Gimme Radio as their “home” and as each other as their “families”.  

We get thanked daily for creating a service to speaks to the true metal fan.  We are going to take what we did in metal and do the same thing in country, rock, jazz, punk, and every other genre that’s been neglected by the other digital music services and where passionate fans exist.

Chris Lustrino

What are the next music verticals you will move into from metal, and what are the challenges in getting these music licensing deals done?

Tyler Lenane

Country is coming in spring of 2019, we’ve already announced that along with three amazing DJs: grammy nominated, Warner Bros. recording artist Brandy Clark, Third Man recording artist, Joshua Hedley, and Riser House records artist Dillon Carmichael. Later this year we’ll tackle Rock and also start to introduce multiple stations on metal and country. 2020 will see jazz, punk and 2-3 other genres added to our network of communities.

As for licensing, both myself and our COO, David Rosenberg, have each spent over a decade negotiating global content licensing deals for companies like Beats Music, Rhapsody, and MOG.  

It is a tremendous advantage that we can do all of this in-house. With respect to our current deals, all of the deals are agnostic to genre. They are for entire catalogs and so there is no need for new deals. We already have the contracts locked up.

Chris Lustrino

How are you managing cost associated with these licenses?

Tyler Lenane

Before we ever launched Gimme Radio, all of the founders sat down and discussed not only how to improve digital music from a product perspective but from the business perspective as well. We did not want to be in a situation where music licensing accounts for 70% (or more) of our business.  

Without disclosing the details of our deals, one of the biggest advantages of Gimme Radio is that it is a very efficient business with respect to music licenses. As a result, you will not see licensing as being the major hurdle to overcome when it comes to costs.

Chris Lustrino

What customer acquisition channels are you utilizing?

Tyler Lenane

First we rely on the fanbases of our DJs who have massive social followings, fan clubs, and email lists. We also rely on our community to evangelize the service and hold meetups.  

Our investors like 5B Artist Management and Wacken Open Air (largest metal festival in the world) give us access to artists and events that would not be possible otherwise.

We work closely with our label partners and do exchange-in kind marketing that has allowed us to sponsor tours, promote album releases, do live events and access other unique customer acquisition channels.

For example, just this past month we worked with three labels to include a unique subscription discount code in their email blasts to their customers and also include codes in their shipments of physical records and merchandise.

As for paid acquisition channels it’s primarily Facebook and Google Adwords. And we are just starting to do sun video ads on YouTube.

The important thing is that because we are so focused on specific genres, our marketing spend can be highly targeted and it ends up being really cost efficient.

We are already prepping the same blend of customer acquisition channels for our next genre, Gimme Country. We are working closely with management, artists, and labels in the genre to set up the same unique types of opportunities that allow us to capture the existing audiences in country once the new service launches.

Chris Lustrino

What are you hearing from artist? Do they see added value to collaborating with Gimme Radio?

Tyler Lenane

They love it. We are giving them a platform where they can have direct access to their fans in a way that they can’t on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. If you are an artist and not on tour and not in album cycle, there is just no better way to stay in front of your fans.  

Recently we were highlighted in Louder (the UK based online portal for hard rock and metal magazines like Metal Hammer and Classic Rock) and one of our star DJs, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth had this to say: 

“We’ve got this really great place to stream music, to get royalties to the bands, interview the bands – bands that people would just not hear, even on satellite radio some of these bands wouldn’t get the time of day…I love telling stories about all this stuff and I also get the chance to clear up some of the stuff that people have questions on..”

People like Dave Mustaine immediately understand the power of Gimme Radio.

Chris Lustrino

What will the makeup of the team be once you raise this capital?

Tyler Lenane

The makeup of the team won’t change drastically once we raise capital. We already have most of the expertise needed to run Gimme Radio.

What we’ll need to make sure that each new genre is as successful as the metal genre we launched in 2017, is someone on hand that has the deep knowledge in each genre so that we maintain our authentic voice, additional production capabilities so we can continue to provide world class programming, and additional marketing to help spread the word about the great DJs, shows, and the community.

Chris Lustrino

In 5 years where do you see Gimme Radio?

Tyler Lenane

I see a network of a dozen or more genre based communities under the single Gimme Radio hub. We will be the leader in fan-centric music services. Just like metalheads today call Gimme Radio their “home” we will be the “home” for all the underserved fans.

With a long pedigree of industry experience, a recognition of a market gap in the music streaming arena and early signs of strong customer engagement and monetization, it is hard not to get excited about this business.

If interested be sure to invest HERE and stay tuned for continued coverage of the business.

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About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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