Published December 18th 2015
Who could’ve imagined, less than 20 years ago, when the music industry was fighting against technical innovation, it would be money made from music that would help built today’s success of tech companies like, for instance, Facebook.
You could say that the influencers of the music industry have since decided “if you can’t beat them, join them”, making this blog a story of coming full circle.
I’m an avid fan of technology when used to make life easier and think life would be utterly dull without music.
From the early rise of the Internet, the digitization of music recording and the compression of music files, I’ve seen more advantages than disadvantages. So, I never understood the dire resistance the music industry showed, at the beginning.
I fully agreed that p2p file sharing platforms like Napster were not the way to move forward for the business, but I’m still amazed, to this day, that it didn’t only took until January 2001, but that it took Apple to show the record companies the right path to walk on. That was when the iTunes store was launched.
Happily Streaming Along
Since the end of the 90s, I’ve been streaming music. I forgot the name of the company that offered this, but it had its own media player you had to download. It would be free if you’d allow advertisements, but that could be removed for a monthly fee. It only took 7 more years for another company, Spotify, to ‘perfect’ this service.
I’ve often thought that the very fact the music industry was completely baffled and looked numbed by new developments, damaged the industry more than the technology that they blamed for the change.
You know what they say: “Life happens while you’re making plans”
Some artists got that message too, so most started investing in tech startups.
U2’s lead singer Bono made sure his investment company invested in a silly little social media platform, whom at that time, were raising capital for growth, after replacing the college scene for a global scene. It was Facebook.
About 6 years later, it turned Bono into a billionaire. And that was not the only tech company he invested in. Bono also has had money invested in Yelp, Palm and other companies.
In 2011, Justin Timberlake tried to follow in Bono’s footsteps and quickly got himself involved in competitor MySpace. A few years prior, in 2008, MySpace were leading in popularity and leaning heavily on musicians who were using the platform to connect with their audience.
Timberlake would take the lead in the site’s business strategy. A revamp of the platform followed and everyone, who was still left, dropped it to move to Facebook. Timberlake is still linked to the company, but only as an investor now. Since, he continued investing in more tech startups, but none have been successful so far.
50 Cent and Timbaland
Currently, broadcast-from-anywhere app Hang W/ is trying to raise a capital of $2.5 million through crowdfunding to put towards growth and intensify their focus on music. It’s hoping that their celebrity ties will be appealing enough to attract private investors. 50 Cent and Timbaland, among others, already have invested in the company. They are halfway to their goal at the time of this publication.
Rapper Drake is one of the newest investors in a tech startup. He recently invested in Omni, an app that helps organize your life. He invested together with Justin Bieber’s manager, because it’s not just the artists who are getting in on it.
In fact, Troy Carter, music manager and the man behind WeTransfer’s supporting role to the music industry, as well as investor in Spotify, is hands on in many tech startups.
Today’s music business is entwined with the tech world. That should’ve happened a lot sooner, but luckily, it has learned its lessons through trial and error. I’m always curious to see what happens next.