I’ll never forget it…I was 22 years old, interning/kinda working at Island Def Jam records, really diving into digital music (Itunes had just launched and Napster was a household name) and I had the best idea ever. It was really simple…but brilliant.
I was really in to A R – the department where a bunch of music snobs and trendsetters decide who gets a deal and who doesn’t – I was totally plugged into new/up and coming bands. Not only did I now what we were signing I knew what other labels were signing and would occasionally make some fantastic predictions. I was say “this band is going to be huge…” “they stink but someone will sign them”…”They ROCK, but i think everyone will stay away” etc…
A few of the bands/artists that I saw/heard that I 100% knew would blow up…did. I remember early My Chemical romance, All American reject demos, seeing Fallout Boy play their first NJ show at Skate and Surf , The Used first songs recorded before they even played live, the killers as they were just signed, The White Stripes, The Strokes and more. Other people got SUPER excited about stuff that I knew would fizzle out and never do anything. Oh, and they did too.
“Wow, this is cool – they pay people for this? I can do this all day.” I thought. But you see…I didn’t think I was that special – I thought…”A lot of kids like me could do this – they should”. Hence…my brilliant idea came in to shape.
I envisioned a music service – like itunes – where people could download (and or stream music) and “invest” points in artists they were digging. There would be different levels of success and for each level achieved there would be rewards that came in the form of real stuff (tickets, merch etc) and or more points. Points could be earned based on overal usage/engagement on the site and redeemed for more music and even real money (and the time I didn’t know this was impossible but it was not crucial to the model). I thought…”This makes ever kid their own A R person…everyone will get to “get in early” on bands they love, be encouraged to consume more music and get rewarded for when good stuff happens”.
On the other end of the equation…bands would sign up for the service (for a small fee) so that their points that were invested could be turned into real money to be used for production/touring/tacos/anything else they wanted. People would pay to have the ability to invest and be rewarded and artists would pay to be a part of the fund raising. I didn’t know it…but I invented crowd sourcing!!!! Not only that…I was “gamifying” Music before “Gamification” was a thing!
Now – I considered diving in full force…I made some inquiries about legal stuff/patents and seeing if anyone had thought of this before. But…that’s pretty much where is ended. I was finishing school…looking forward to a full job and moving to NYC. Then life took over and I never launched my idea. I talked about it with some folks and everyone agreed…brilliant. BUT…I didn’t do anything with it.
Now – there is a little (not so little if you know the space) company, ran by really smart people in NYC, called Kickstarter. These guys are doing exactly what I didn’t do (i.e. – only thought of)…and… they are worth several hundred million dollars (conservatively). WHAMMY! You win Kickstarter – well done. They are raising money, via crowd sourcing, for artists, bands, movies, individuals and anything else you can think. Really amazing stuff, very well designed, marketed and executed… and I’m glad I thought of it. http://www.kickstarter.com/
It’s Ok guys dont fret…I did ok. I love my job and my career path has been wonderfully exciting thus far and I don’t really have any regrets. However a little piece of me wishes that I took the plunge and started that company. Let it be a lesson…don’t sit around on greatness because someone else will do it if you don’t!