Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Next Big Sound is The Next Big Sound

I'm in a fraternity at Northwestern, and I distinctly remember hearing a conversation in the house where one of the older brothers that I really like was concerned about not having a job for the summer. Well, a few months later, there shouldn't have been any concern.

The Next Big Sound was founded by a group of 5 guys, two of whom are in my fraternity, working on a project in an entrepeneurship class that got investors from the Illinois Ventures Program. They got their fledgling site off the ground this summer in Champaign, IL, and now its up and running as a startup business in Evanston.

Here's how it works. Users who sign up on the site are called "moguls" who create their own faux record label. They then listen to demos submitted by unsigned artists on the site. If they like the band's music, they "sign" the band to one of ten artist slots designated to each user. Moguls sign artists that they think other people will want to sign, hoping to earn points as a band gains popularity. The bands are rewarded for more people signing them, and the moguls are rewarded when more people sign the band after them. The site keeps track of who signed a band first, so you can actually prove you were listening to a band before anyone else.

It is a little bit more of a business game than it is discovering music, but hey, when you get to pretend to have your own label with music that you like, there's a little bit right in the world.

A lot of bands from the Chicago area or with members at Northwestern see a huge boost in popularity on the site, but that's not to say that eventually it couldn't have regional success anywhere. It's sort of like PureVolume, but with much more user input and involvement. It gets the fans in direct control over who is successful, because to be 1 of only 10 slots you have to sound pretty good to a lot of people.

The site draws comparisons to networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, especially the latter's music section, but there's less of an emphasis on networking between users and more on a fantasy business/game vibe. There's a box office prediction game that I've played every now and again called Fantasy Moguls that is essentially fantasy football for movies, and this site runs a lot like fantasy football with unsigned musicians and bands.

Here's a link to my profile on the site. Take a look at what they've got going there, these guys deserve some success with such an interesting idea.

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