The bleary-eyed music savant is tired but still bursting with excitement. Chris Nagy, VP of Marketing of TheFuture.fm, just got off the red-eye from his trip to LA, and is running around his office trying to find a quiet place (there’s a lot of music blasting at The Future) moment to chat with SoundCtrl about the application, along with some of its future prospects. The DJ turned entrepreneur throws out some advice for future tech-mogul aspirers, reveals his favorite iPhone apps and more…
SoundCtrl - What was the purpose in developing Thefuture.fm?
Chris Nagy - Literally the purpose was a desire to recreate the unique experience people get when they are in the presence of a DJ, whether they’re at a club, festival or party. That was the original desire, and once the process got started in creating a platform for this, a lot of hurdles and obstacles arose—not only from a technological standpoint, but also from the music industry, which we felt needed to be addressed.
SC - It has been reported that on April 25, when you re-launched dubset.com as thefuture.fm, your user base doubled to more than 100,000. How?
CN - It’s become a combination of our team and platform being more developed – all these things working together have put the company as a whole on another level. I think it’s creating a momentum that pushes us forward more quickly. It’s also a good time to be in the EDM space where there’s a lot going on – especially in the United States, where we’re really starting to embrace DJ culture more actively.
SC - Tell us about implementing mixSCAN technologies.
CN - mixSCAN pretty much serves as the backbone and it’s what makes everything else possible. Anytime a mix is constrained to any capacity within our platform, mixSCAN creates an automated report, and then pays off for the different copyrights in an automated fashion. This way we’ve created the first ever platform that respects the DJ as artists. We even have plans for a mechanism that will be able to pay DJs royalties for the work that they do.
SC - What did your 15+ years in the music biz, especially your time at Grooveshark, teach you about music technology? How are you applying what you’ve learned to make thefuture.fm?
CN - I’ve found that the integration of the music culture being tied to technology has really changed the business of it. The only way to be successful on a commercial level is through some form of technology, right? So I think the big thing that I learned is seeing these two separate opposing forces now working together hand-in-hand. I’ve also recently learned that you have to take the opinions of everyone you work with into consideration, especially in the music industry. From managers to artists, everyone has a vision on how they want to distribute the listening experience to their audience, and you have to foster a healthy dialogue with them in order to ensure the opportunity to grow and succeed.
SC - Will the future.fm ever host more than DJ music?
CN - We’re definitely not strictly EDM. Since we are a part of the DJ culture, we see many genres that are mixed into the work including hip-hop, trance, rock, alternative stuff, classics…whatever. EDM stems from all different types of music, and technology can be applied to any format of music.
SC - With all the young success stories these days, including Mark Zuckerburg and Dennis Crowley, what would you say is the key to becoming a successful programmer/entrepreneur?
CN - It’s a combination of actually having a vision, and business deliverance – it’s not just coding. Also, having a true grasp of the product and its marketing/packaging, or surrounding yourself with quality people that do. What I’ve seen often times is that some start-ups may have extremely talented developers who just want to create all different kinds of stuff and get it out there. Then there’s the Apple mentality where all these products are calculated and programmed so that the messaging, their packaging, their look, their feel, their identity, and their timing is all thought out. And I think the latter approach stands better. You can develop the greatest product, but if you don’t find a way to make it compelling with your users, even if you are be discovered organically or virally, ultimately you’re going to have a much slimmer chance at success.
SC - If you were to start charging for services, how do you do so strategically so as not to offend your users?
CN - I think there’s the ability to continue to allow people to adhere to our platform in certain capacities, but don’t want to participate financially. Then there’s the ability to offer access and services for a higher level product that involves a combination of a subscription service and then also a unique approach for users to be able to acquire exclusive original mixes that can’t be accessed from anywhere else.
SC - What is your favorite iPhone app?
CN - Right now I’m using Thefuture.fm app heavily for my entertainment consumption. I travel a lot so I use Instagram and Hotel Tonight. I also like to have Sign It! on hand as well.
SC - What’s next on Thefuture.fm’s agenda?
CN - We are in the process of rolling out various ways to monetize content, and at the same time provide special access to the audience with some exclusive mixes so that it’s basically become a new marketplace.