Bryan Kim

I do startups that involve music… and yet I’m still optimistic. Currently, the Founder and Chief Artist Enabler @ Think Steady Inc.

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Guide to Music Crowdfunding - Part 1: Fans with Benefits

This post is the first in a multi-part series on executing an optimal music crowdfunding campaign, gathered from my hands-on experience at Think Steady Inc. I’ll share a detailed roadmap of best practices, and if you’ll let me, indulge in a few off-the-wall theories on why they work. I’ll be discussing this fuller in person at SF Musictech Summit on Nov. 11, join me!

In October of 2012, I wrote a piece titled “Crowd Patronage” in this very blog, theorizing about how early music Kickstarter campaigns were illuminating a path to the new “post-Napster” music industry. The piece did well on Hacker News and a few other outlets, gathering a humble readership of technologists, musicians and music biz types who were interested in such ramblings. Some of these folks asked me to run their artist campaigns, assuming I was a music crowdfunding expert. I wasn’t.

Fast forward a few months...

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What Would Paul Graham Think, About Poker

In a 2010 interview with Andrew Warner, Paul Graham identified “determination” as the primary trait he looks for in entrepreneurs in his selective Y-combinator incubator. Since Y-combinator makes a point of deciding admission after a shockingly brief 15 minute face-to-face interview – Warner then begged the question to Graham: “What kind of things does an entrepreneur do to fool you into thinking that they’re really determined?” Which yielded this surprising aside on poker from Graham:

Matt Maroon, of BlueFly gaming. He was a professional poker player. I mean talk about poker faced, you know? So, he came in for his interview, and he just seemed like, absolutely unflappable. And we thought, “Boy, this guy is tough! This guy is not a wimp.” And actually we were right, he was really tough. To this day, he is genuinely unflappable.

And I probably would want to fund more people who...

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Instrumachines and the Evolution of Electronic Music Performance

This past summer, on the way to see headlining act Girl Talk, I accidentally stumbled upon the future of electronic music performance. It happened at the Treasure Island music festival, which takes place a stone’s throw away from my San Francisco. On this particular Saturday, I was most excited to see the aforementioned Girl Talk – a mashup DJ with a reputation for putting on a good party. But, along the way down the lineup, I ran into an opening set by Araabmuzik:

Ignore the music itself; Araabmuzik is not even a dubstep artist, he’s remixing a Skrillex record here. Instead, pay attention to the man’s hands. What Araabmuzik is doing here is introducing the concept of instrumental virtuosity… to a machine. If most EDM DJ’s can trace their lineage to traditional disco-era record spinners, then Araabmuzik can trace his lineage to Jimi Hendrix; that is, a man who can claim his...

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Crowd Patronage: How A 400 Year Old Model Can Save The Music Industry

“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” – Steve Jobs

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to the future of the music industry. There are the Traditionalists, who still view file sharing as “stealing” and hope that their preaching will swing the pendulum of teenage consumerism back toward charged content. There are the Incrementalists, who believe that paid downloads will continue to grow, and essentially replace the revenues of physical formats past. There are the Internet Apologists, who want to give music away as a loss leader to sell more concert tickets and merchandise, hoping that these gains will make up for the loss...

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A Facebook Guide for Musicians

This is a re-post from my previous blog, Trackswell. This post has since been re-published by Lifehacker, Hypebot, and CD Baby.

Facebook is the largest marketing channel for most musicians and bands. Surprisingly, it’s also the one they know least about. This guide breaks down why Facebook is important, how it works, and most importantly, the steps to make Facebook work for musicians and fans.

Artists, you can’t be blamed. Many of you developed your social networking habits on Myspace, Twitter, or YouTube. These platforms are (or were) a lot more straightforward than Facebook. In most cases you post it, forget it, then maybe check the numbers later. Not only do these inattentive social media habits fail on Facebook, they can actually hurt you in a very quantitative way.

Furthermore, Facebook largely ignored music for most of its existence. By the time Facebook introduced...

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When iTunes Becomes Obsolete

The following chart is sourced straight from the RIAA year end sales report. It is released every March, and it is the reason you read about the year-over-year triumphs of digital downloads in the face of plummeting CD sales. It is the reason everyone knows that the physical format is dead, the music industry was slow to respond to P2P, and the industry-wide contraction was their price to pay… yada yada yada, I’m not here to beat that dead horse (yet).

It’s not the s that interest me; they’re all predictable data points continuing a decade long trend. No, I’m more interested in the format of the chart. Ever since about 2004, the RIAA has formatted their year end sales summary in the same binary digital / physical layout.

It’s a false dichotomy. Digital downloads share a lot more in common with physical media than the music industry might hope for. And that’s bad news for the major...

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