midemblog: What is Ekko?
Nathan Barlow, Ekko founder: Ekko is a new internet-based freemium music platform for musicians to share musical ideas, audio stems and collaborative tracks. It offers a dual value proposition: for amateur creators, the opportunity to connect, share and create with each other; and for established artists and labels an environment for direct, meaningful engagement with creative fans. Both segments will benefit from a simplified approach to promoting music, with multiple contributors across multiple user profiles.
> What problems does Ekko solve?
I’ll answer that in several parts:
– Musicians are often disconnected during the creative process, unless in geographical proximity to one another. The internet is a great way to remove these geographical barriers
– Many musicians have laptops full of ideas and incomplete tracks that are never finished; Ekko wants to provide a platform for these ideas to be shared and expanded on by other musicians… inspiration often comes from outside sources
– Despite the majority of music being collaborative in some aspect (whether through co-writing, working with producers or session players, playing in a band, sampling another’s work, etc.), current online promotion tends to focus on the individual. Ekko’s ‘tag-and-share’ feature will allow all contributing musicians to be tagged on a single track, that will then be shared across all the tagged user’s profiles (rather than just appearing on the uploader’s profile, as is currently the case on many online music platforms). This also has the benefit of increasing potential promotional reach based on how many musicians were involved, encouraging collaboration to occur
– For established artists and labels it’s often the case that engagement with fans is fairly shallow (Tweets, Facebook updates, etc.); Ekko hopes to drive meaningful direct-to-fan engagement by providing an environment for artists/labels to share ideas, audio stems, etc. with their creative fans, thereby allowing these fans to actively engage with their favourite artist’s music.
> How do you plan to make money?
The current plan is based on a freemium model; advertising revenue will be generated through free accounts, then there will be upgraded accounts that will provide additional benefits such as increased storage space and apps to streamline the user experience.
> Who do you view as your competitors?
The two main competitors that have been identified are SoundCloud and collaborative music platform Indaba Music. I see Ekko’s niche as being somewhere in between these two platforms.
> Where did you get the idea for the business?
I studied music production at the Leeds College of Music prior to joining Berklee for my MA degree; whilst at Leeds, I was writing an album for my third year dissertation and was very lucky to be able to call up a number of incredible musicians to come and play on my tracks. I really viewed the songs I was producing as collective works, however when it came to promote these songs there was no way for me to give them proper recognition; an upload on SoundCloud only appeared on my profile, and the best I could do to acknowledge their work was to write their names in the description.
Once I moved to Berklee in Valencia I encountered a myriad of different musicians from all over the world working together to produce great music; once I’d seen this I began to realise how fortunate I was to be in such an environment. During my Business Model class I was thinking of these issues I’d encountered and decided I wanted to create a platform where people from all over the world, and not just the select few who are lucky enough to go to somewhere like Berklee, could create music together and effectively promote it as a collaborative work; this initial idea was then refined and adapted over the course of my MA dissertation.
> What stage of development is Ekko at right now?
Currently the project is still a business plan. I haven’t started any development on it yet, though hopefully that should begin soon. I’ve only presented it within the walls of Berklee so far, so haven’t had any interest from investors yet. From Rethink, I’d ideally like to gain the capital to begin serious development, alongside a mentor with more business experience who can help guide the project. Failing that, any feedback on the idea would be awesome!
Want to join Ekko and pitch for glory at Rethink Music Venture Day in Berlin? Click here to submit your project, and win $10,000 in legal services; free access to an online music business certificate programme from Berklee Online; free registration for Midem 2014, and access to capital and funding. Submission deadline: September 23.