It seems as though everyone is placing their bets that entrepreneurs are the future of the music industry, but few people are actually doing anything to help those ideas blossom. Charlie McEnerney, the founder of Well Rounded Radio and Musicians for Music 2.0, is taking that sentiment even further in his strong belief that successful musicians will be the ones to fund these entrepreneurs and their ideas of reforming the music industry. He believes that he can, “foster the next level of tastemaking”, by creating a, “communal angel investor [to fund these ideas].”
What’s your elevator pitch for Musicians for Music 2.0?
Amid a rapidly changing landscape in the music industry, Musicians for Music 2.0 is an idea for a new fund for financing music discovery editorial tools and technologies. In the spirit of a communal angel investor fund, Musicians for Music 2.0 will initially be financed by musicians who succeeded over the past 50 years and sustained through advertising and sponsorships. Ultimately, its goal is to expose more people around the world to more music, with up-and-coming musicians benefiting financially through the sales of music, attending live shows, and fan-funded donations. Our hope is to to help musicians over the next 50 years make a living.
How did the idea come about?
Having produced a music interview podcast for the last number of years and knowing a lot of people who produce blogs and podcasts and a variety of low-cost technologies, I kept hearing the stories of how these editorial and technological projects were not things that would receive funding from venture capital firms, who are most interested in funding tech projects that they can grow and sell, or foundations, which are generally more focused on non-profit and mission-oriented organizations. While there are angel investors that exist in technology, bio tech, clean tech, etc., it struck me as interesting that there was no such option for music-related projects.
Does it fill a void in the music industry?
I think it does in that the tastemakers of the past—DJs, music journalists/critics, record store clerks—are a diminishing breed. I love technologies like Pandora or Last.fm that help music fans discover new music, but I also think we, as humans, will also value the opinions of other humans whose taste we trust. The success of Pitchfork and Stereogum and Brooklyn Vegan tells you that there are lots of music fans still out there who want and need some guidance, but it would be healthier for the music business of the future if there were hundreds of self-sustaining editorial and technology platforms for people to tap into to find their next favorite artist.
Why did you do the Kickstarter fundraiser?
I could have sent out the proposals myself, but after seeing the Kickstarter founders at the Future of Music Coalition summit in DC in October, I realized it would be more interesting to raise some money from my fellow music-makers and music fans in order to print out presentations and send them to successful musicians who might become angel investors. Holding the Kickstarter campaign became, in and of itself, a fun way to spread the word about the ideas behind Musicians for Music 2.0. The presentation includes a deck of slides to review the general idea and a 10 year budget that outlines how we anticipate it will work.
Who are you targeting as investors?
The first group that I am going to send the proposal to for consideration are:
- David Bowie
- David Byrne
- Dr. Dre
- Bob Dylan
- Bob Marley’s Estate
- Wynton Marsalis
- Yo Yo Ma
- Dave Matthews
- Pearl Jam
- Robert Plant/Jimmy Page
- Russell Simmons
- Bruce Springsteen
- Neil Young
- John Williams
Do you plan on going non-profit? why or why not?
My hope is that Musicians for Music 2.0 would become a angel investor fund and operate as a for profit. If these businesses that we are helping are aiming to become profitable and sustainable over the long haul, that’s the right approach for the fund, too.
What else is preventing you from starting immediately besides money?
I’m also speaking with a variety of people about the board of advisors, which will likely be six people coming from the music, technology, and/or entrepreneurial circles. Having the right mix of people to evaluate the applications that we receive from music discovery start-ups is central to its success.
Do you plan on taking a % of the companies in which you invest? Why or why not? If not, how will the company be reimbursed for their investment?
Yes, the plan is to ask companies that either excel or that are sold to pay back a percentage of their profits to the fund. Ideally we would be associated with a company for several years and help them to be on stable footing before they reinvest. Musicians for Music 2.0 would also seek to replenish its overall fund by asking a new group of successful musicians to donate each year, so that we would extend this network of angels investors over time.
What’s so special about music and technology?
Online technology does word-of-mouth really well. Music has always benefited from word of mouth through friends and acquaintances, so I think it connects these two elements and speeds up the process. Also, I think devoted music fans like to feel they are taste makers and exposing fans to new artists. Current and developing technology is a simple way to make that happen.
What was the last CD you bought and concert you saw?
Sharon Jones and Dap Kings: “I Learned the Hard Way”
David Byrne + Fatboy Slim: “Here Lies Love”
Jonsi from Sigur Ros: “Go”
Ironically enough, the week after I contacted Charlie, he was heading down to New York for some meetings, so he made some time to meet me at my local coffee shop in Williamsburg to chat for a bit.
Charlie ordered a muffin and coffee, and then sat across from me at an off-white marble table where I hadn’t moved from since 9AM. From the moment we started talking, I could tell that he was extremely passionate about this project that he had nurtured by leaps and bounds. More importantly, I could see that he actually cared about giving a platform to these struggling entrepreneurs and musicians to develop their ideas. It’s that sort of motivation that will drive us into the next phase of the music industry.
Charlie knows that the jump for an entrepreneur from passion project to successful company is easier than one might think. Musicians for Music 2.0 would supply the initial investment, advisers to help guide and structure the idea, allow them the time to focus solely on this project, and the connections to reach the unreachable VCs and angels for another round of investment.
All too often Charlie finds that people set themselves up for failure and don’t take risks by saying, “I would drop everything to [run my company] full time but I don’t think it will happen”, so he is trying to reverse that negativity by creating a platform where entrepreneurs say, “Yes! I will drop everything everything because I know I can make it work.”
For now, he’s toying with the idea of turning M4M 2.0 (so much easier than writing it out) into a Techstars-like incubator program just for the music industry. I thought that was a great idea because if a team of entrepreneurs is willing to pick up and go wherever for 2-6 months to develop their business than they’re showing commitment and sacrifice.
Interesting in finding out more about M4m 2.0? Want to support a realistic and obtainable solution for our industry’s problems? Check out their Facebook page and don’t be shy because Charlie is a very nice guy who would love to hear what you folks think.