LÜM, With Dashes of Spotify and Instagram, Helps Musicians Find Fans

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SoundCloud and Bandcamp. It’s too early to tell whether LÜM’s model will catch on, but it has started to win over some people.

Jacob Jones, a “pop-indie” singer/songwriter and music producer who goes by the stage name Pelham, says he is a big supporter of LÜM and began working with the startup even before its beta launch in late August.

“I was one of the first artists to do its beta testing,” says Jones, whose songs have gotten nearly 3,000 plays on the LÜM app. “Now my company, Meteor Base, has signed on as an official business partner. So, I use the app as an artist, and my company uses it to communicate with other musicians and work on collaborations, meet new fans, and promote my company as a service that works with artists and musicians.”

He says LÜM has expedited that whole process.

“I could have done all those things in other ways, but it would have been more of a hassle,” says Jones, who grew up in Madison and attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for several semesters before moving to Minneapolis to launch his career.

Screenshots from LÜM’s app taken by Brian E. Clark.

Fergus says all of LÜM’s music content is uploaded by artists, though fans can post photos, other media, and comments about their favorite musicians. He says the startup is diligent to make sure the music available to stream on its app is original and doesn’t violate any copyright or ownership laws.

“[Copyright] legality is a moving target, though, which is why we’re working with some of the same lawyers that represent Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube,” he says. “If you are going to enter this space like we are, you have to make sure you are covering yourself and following all the regulations.”

Fergus says LÜM isn’t generating revenue yet, and he isn’t sure when LÜM will turn a profit. But if it does, that income might come from selling data collected from users to “A&R companies, talent management agencies, record labels, radio stations, and any other firm that is interested in finding the next big artist or genre before it is even on the forefront of the music scene.” That might not sit well with some users, so Fergus says the data will be aggregated and anonymized, so buyers won’t be able to access private, individual user information.

Of course, generating data buyers’ interest will require attracting a healthy number of users. Despite spending almost no money on promotions so far, other than a minor effort on the UW-Madison campus, Fergus says LÜM has picked up more than 6,000 users during its beta testing period that began in late August, including both listeners and artists. He says he can’t yet quantify how many users LÜM would need before companies would want to buy its data.

“The key for us will be user retention and their activity on the platform.” he says. “Once we have solid traction in those areas, bigger players will naturally become interested. With that being said, we had companies reaching out to us about data before we even launched our beta product.”

Another area where he hopes LÜM will make money is “gamification.” Amazon-owned Twitch, which has an estimated 1 million online viewers, lets users cheer and back e-sports gamers and celebrities. This past summer, more than 600,000 viewers watched Twitch master Tyler Blevins and rapper Drake play video games.

“We’ve looked at companies such as Twitch and Tencent, [a China-based firm that runs a music streaming service], to create an application around social music discovery that benefits and engages artists and fans,” Fergus says.

The idea would be to create … Next Page »

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