Investors Talk Disruption in Digital Music at Internet Week New York

5/17/12Follow @jpruth

At a time when companies such as Pandora and Songza are trying to change the way listeners discover music, some hurdles continue to stand in the way of the industry’s evolution. In a relatively short timespan, music has graduated from digital downloads to live streams curated for listeners’ individual tastes. The pace of change may be stymied, however, by copyright laws and, in some cases, outdated ways of doing business among established incumbents.

A panel of backers of new ideas in digital music spoke Tuesday as part of Internet Week New York about what gets them excited—and worried—about innovation in the industry. The discussions ranged from how audiences discover new music online to new ways for connecting fans with their favorite bands at live shows and beyond.

Panelist Jalak Jobanputra told Xconomy she sees the presence of major record labels in NYC, as well as emerging artists from the local music community, giving rise to innovative ideas in digital music. Jobanputra is managing director of RTP Ventures, a $120 million fund in New York founded last year by Moscow-based technology investment company ru-Net.

However New York is not alone when it comes to new technology changing how the public connects with music. Jobanputra points to the established media industry in Los Angeles and innovators in San Francisco as hubs for emerging companies in digital music. “If you’re looking at fusing technology, platforms, and distribution with content, some of the platforms are being built out there,” she said. Other cities such as Atlanta and Austin, she said, also see up-and-comers leverage technology to change the way the music industry works.

That said, the panelists seemed to agree that all aspects of the music market are up for grabs. Panelist Noah Rubin, vice president of music at record label and production company Decon in New York, talked about Legitmix, an Ottawa-based startup he backs, which created an online marketplace that lets users access remixed music from deejays. “If I go to Spotifiy, Rdio, or other streaming platforms, these [remixes] are not easily accessible in a single place,” he said. He said finding remixes of songs can typically require visiting multiple sources such as SoundCloud and Mixcloud.

Andrea Harrison, director of digital engagement at PepsiCo, mentioned startup … Next Page »

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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