After a 4-day swing through South by Southwest in Austin, TV, I’m back in New York wading through the content I’d generated during the festival. While walking through the main exhibit hall, I ran across a number of companies promoting products and services to artists. Muzu.tv is one that caught my eye. In this Netmix SXSW podcast, Muzu.tv CEO, John Toone explains the company’s toolsets and philosophy.
The two-year old company are planning a late Q2 launch of their online platform of front end and back end tools allowing recording artists, labels, DJs and DVD DJs, record producers, remixers, video artists, directors and more to build and maintain highly customizable online profiles. In addition to general profile features, under a simple set of tabbed headers, creative types can build a network of video channels alongside a library of copyrighted works, which can all be made available for streaming or paid/free download, with rights issues, transactions and tracking all handled within the system.
DJs, remixers and video remixers can create their own profiles, grab samples or tracks from other artists in the system and create new tracks and mashups, with all rights, clearances or transactional payments handled through as well.
The service provides promotional tools within the network. Profiles have a variety of social networking features and the ability to handle merchandise transactions, like t-shirts and ticket sales. A wiki provides user generated content organized by city about upcoming performances, bios on bands and other relevant information that can be added or edited and updated by anyone in the network.
Recently, the company made its public debut at Midem, the world’s largest music conference in Cannes, France. In our interview, Mr. Toone relayed that feedback was positive, considering the number of entrants in the marketplace competing for the attention of the world’s bands, musicians and DJs. Mainly, it’s the simplicity that’s key. With an interface that generally keeps the user from having to scroll down to view, presenting the content generally above the scroll in a mostly Flash-based experience, the web sites core principle is K.I.S.S., which stands for “Keep it simple, stupid.”
Operating out of Dublin, Ireland with staffers in London and New York, Muzu.tv CEO, John Toone applied his extensive music legal experience in business affairs at both Virgin and A&M to create a legal and scalable platform to distribute copyrighted works with an extensive tracking system. Copyright owners are excited about the company’s plan to share revenues from video pre-roll and banner advertising with those contributing to the network. Where applicable monies will be distributed back to copyright owners on the sale of new works created within the system should they be downloaded. A pretty neat feature in itself, but widely dependent on creators to upload to the system.
To the layman, one would probably ask how is this different from MySpace, YouTube and other user-generated content companies in the marketplace? A key differentiator is that Muzu.tv was built by music industy folks who have a deep understanding of the challenges facing copyright owners in a widely fragmented space, providing a legal platform to ingest and redistribute content with rights tracking and payments handled organically by the system. Instead of a build and worry about the rights later, which is what MySpace and YouTube orginally did, the creators of Muzu.tv saw the need to provide an efficient rights-based system.
I have yet to look through any agreements a copyright owner would agree to to upload their content, but I believe the system is built on retaining rights while Muzu shares in revenues generated by those rights.
The challenge facing Muzu.tv is to convince the world’s band’s already on MySpace, YouTube and other music plaforms, like CDBaby, to move over to and leverage to Muzu.tv stystem. MySpace’s partnership with SnoCap gives artists the ability to offer their tracks for sale on MySpace’s pages. However, the downside with Snocap/MySpace is the reliance on third-part providers to build widgets. Many MySpace pages are disjointed, broken and can crash browswers after artists add some of these third-party tools. Given the technology the company has built and its founders vision, the technology comes from one source, not unlike Apple’s proprietary system. Although it’s great that a cottage industry is being built around MySpace for third-party solutions, having a place like Muzu.tv could save artists time and money with a closed system that will add new products after extensive testing.
I’m thinking it’s reasonable to believe Muzu.tv, given the intellectual and technology capital in the company, should do quite well once artists begin to trust the service and use it as their home base and an extension of their own web sites.