OurStage Act Gaining Partnership Audience Amid Economic Downturn

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a marketplace for matching venues with bands and its “Track Validation Services,” or TRAViS, for testing whether target audiences like certain songs before they go on the radio or TV. Major music labels are testing a beta version of TRAViS, which is scheduled for a full launch in the fourth quarter of this year. Campbell explains that the service helps music labels figure out whether specific types of listeners like certain artists before investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote them. It also allows labels to promote songs to target audiences. Other companies such as ad agencies could also test music before big bucks are spent to overlay the tracks into commercials, he says.

With its marketplace offering, OurStage has entered the fray of online services that play matchmaker between bands and venues such as music clubs. That’s a business niche already occupied by Boston-based Sonicbids, but Campbell says OurStage’s service is differentiated because venue managers and booking agents can look at the listener ratings that bands have received on OurStage.com as well as glean how many fans a musical group has within a certain geographic radius of their club. As with Sonicbids, bands can put their demos, video clips, biographies, and other info into an electronic file for venue managers. Campbell says that the service is now free, but the company is working out whether and how much to charge bands and venues to use it in the future. (The site features more than 100,000 bands in total, he says.)

OurStage is trying to highlight the best new artists in nearly 40 different musical genres, including country, Christian, heavy metal, hip-hop, pop, by applying its own rating system. With each of the competitions it runs, the rating system is designed give each act or band equal exposure, preventing the most well known bands from glomming all the listeners and ratings. Campbell adds that most users of OurStage.com are people who listen to the site’s genre- or sponsor-specific music stations, which feature songs that fan judges have rated as the best in each genre.

Campbell tells me he formed the company after having difficulty finding quality content such as videos and music on popular sites such as YouTube and MySpace. “What I found frustrating is that sites were set up and didn’t help you find out what was good,” he says, and he saw a big opportunity to provide people with a site that culled only the best of the new musicians on the Web.

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