The sound of a new Minnesota startup aiming to connect musicians around the world. LSS #23: SwapBeats



LSS #23 - SwapBeats (18 min)

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SwapBeats launches musical collaborotation siteLast Friday marked the official launch of  SwapBeats, a social network marketplace for musicians who want to make, manage and virtually collaborate on their productions.

Two years in the making, this Minneapolis-based startup was formed on the premise that musicians, music professionals, and listeners should not be bounded by geography.  “We believe that creativity can flow digitally, and as a community-driven application, SwapBeats provides a uniquely collaborative experience which otherwise would not exist,” says SwapBeats CEO and Founder David Atkinson when describing the nature of his company.

The basic technical requirements to participate in SwapBeats are as simple as a computer, high-speed Internet connection and a preferred recording software (aka digital audio workstation (DAW)).  From there,  SwapBeats offers the means for musicians to create a personal or group profile and upload/share their original content either publicly or privately.

For example, a vocalist could record a specific session and seek input from a backup vocalist, guitarist, pianist, etc.  Whether the need is one to many or many to one, the combination of sounds is seemingly endless, limited only by the available talent within the community at a given point in time.  SwapBeats isn’t aiming to replace the artists’ DAW, but rather serve as the natural social extension of software already widely used and accepted.

Musicians can decide whether they want to collaborate for fun/free or for profit and the site is designed to appeal to all skill levels and backgrounds.

At launch, SwapBeats currently features the ability for file hosting, file sharing, communication management and copyright protection methods through the Creative Commons API.   Forthcoming iterations will include distribution tools, a space for production and engineering masters, payment integration, content portals and the means for those outside the network to tap into the SwapBeats talent pool.

Back in the fall of 2008, it was reported by Altimeter Group Analyst Jeremiah Owyang that there were 8 million artists/bands on MySpace Music, a figure which Atkinson says has since grown to 13 million. Add in various virtual hangouts, including Kompoz and eSession, and the market for SwapBeats is in the tens of millions.   Quick to point out the deficiencies of pre-existing services, he’s bullish on SwapBeats ability to capture — one by one — the hearts and minds of musical creators around the world.

“The idea here is that one person is in a band of five,” says Atkinson referring to his combined go-to-market strategy of targeted advertising, on the ground promotional tactics, and strategic partnerships in the making. Over time, the service will be rolling out a trio of monetization models, including freemium vs. premium, integrated advertising and transaction fees for commercially viable content.

Having previously started and managed two different ventures, Atkinson’s roots run deep within the music industry. Fresh out of High School, he formed his own booking and promotion company (ATP Entertainment). From there it was straight to Nashville, TN  where he consulted for Raney Promotions.  His latest gig was president of The Firm Records Group, an independent record label that specialized in signing various artists which he came in contact with throughout his educational experiences at McNally Smith College of Music.

Initially conceived back in 2008, the launch of SwapBeats has been realized through pure determination and hard work. As both a non-technical and solo founder, what began with a small amount of cash from “friends and family” to outsource V1 development has finally reached the point of reality.  Looking ahead, Atkinson sees expansion of the team (executive staff and technical programmers) as imminent.

“I want to build a great company and we have a great opportunity to make that happen. Having built SwapBeats purely out of need, I really understand this market and am not a posing…credibility his huge within the music industry.”

Rock on David!