Interview with Joshua Boltuch, co-founder of Amie Street
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
Amie Street: Amie Street started during our final semester at Brown University, where we graduated from in May of ’06, from discussions about online publishing and how to monetize digital content, specifically music. We had the luxury of time (being in school) to really think about, from a listener’s perspective, what would be the most convenient and affordable way to find new music. That’s how we came up with the community-based pricing model, where all songs start free and rise in price the more they are purchased. This model keeps songs affordable, more organized and easier to find, while also being a seamless promotional tool for musicians who enjoy the snowball or bandwagon effect.
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
Amie Street: The integration of social networking into a viable business model. Amie Street makes a connection among artists and fans that is more than sending a message or leaving a comment on someone’s wall. When a fan buys an artist’s music, she is voting with her wallet and has a direct effect on that artist’s sales as well as promotion. And if that listener recommends that artist to her friends, she can earn credit back into her account to spend on more music depending on how much the song she recommends rises in price. So there is a real investment.
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
1. ‘All songs are created equal’ and start free on Amie Street where they rise in price as they rise in popularity with a cap at 98 cents. Allowing you to buy hundreds of songs at very affordable prices.
2. We have FANTASTIC new music from thousands of artists in dozens of different genres!
3. When you buy credit on Amie Street you also receive a corresponding number of Recommendations that you can use to recommend any song you purchase. Once you recommend a song you’ve bought, you earn credit if the song subsequently goes up in price. We call it Street Credit, which you can cash in for more music at any time.
4. You can sample between 45 seconds to a minute of a song before you purchase it.
5. There is no DRM software on Amie Street so you can play your MP3s on any player including the iPod.
6. You can create your own music profile to find friends with similar (or different) musical tastes and you can communicate directly in a number of different ways with your favorite artists.
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
Amie Street: Everyone who is looking for new music. So obviously our demographics are weighted towards the younger generations, but we also have a bizarre number of 75 year olds on the site. 🙂
They are the people who enjoy discovering new music and not being fed a top 40 list on repeat all summer. Musicians who want to be in control of their music and its distribution and reap the lion’s share of the profit from its sales. Artists take 70% of every song sale after the first $5.
Our audience loves music and wants to be able to support artists without breaking their bank. An active Amie Street member who recommends music could end up paying pennies for hundreds if not thousands of songs because of our recommendation or ‘REC’ system.
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
Amie Street: Many. To choose a few:
1. We are about to announce a number of different fulfillment partnerships with certain popular music blogs, most notably The Hype Machine. Amie Street provides content to these sites and syndicates music reviews on our own blog and homepage, which gives Amie Street artists an effortless and viral promotional tool for their music.
2. A portable artist music store (Amie Street widget) that allows artists and their fans to sell their music more easily and to more people.
3. More great music from content provider partners ranging from established independent labels and distributors to unknown and unsigned artists that should be both known and signed.
4. An awesome Amie Street concert tour!
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
Amie Street: As the destination for new independent music.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
Amie Street: Like any start-up company we have had our share of technical difficulties but nothing out of the ordinary for a site like ours.
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
Amie Street: To make finding new music easy, fun and affordable. Everyone loves music and we want to be the best at helping you find what you love to listen to.
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
Amie Street: To deliver the best new independent music with the most convenient, relevant and affordable service possible. Our innovation is integrating a social networking application into a business model where they each drive one another. And maybe most importantly, for our members, we reward our customers’ loyalty by giving them more money to spend on music when they recommend great new music. This helps us to identify the next great musicians and helps our members by allowing them to buy tons of music for nickels and dimes.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
Amie Street: We are still a young company having only been in business for three months, and we are finalizing our first round of funding to take us through 2007.
TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date? If you have already launched, when was your launch date?
Amie Street: We went live on July 4th, 2006 but did not officially launch to the public until our Beta product on Oct. 4th.
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