An Interview With Michael Goldman: Musical Crowdsourcer
In an age where people have taken power over record labels in regards to which artists they want to listen to (after all, a lot of current Top 40 pop singers were YouTube sensations before reaching stardom), it was only a matter of time before a music label based on crowdsourcing appeared. Originated in France by Michael Goldman, My Major Company allows you to invest in an emerging artist and become a producer by purchasing shares, subsequently profiting from their album sales. The fan-funded system has revolutionized the music industry in the country, and its first produced artist became the number one selling record for 2009. Now that Michael (my cousin, by the way) is thinking about expanding his baby and bringing it to the US of A, we thought it was grand time for him to meet up with BR!NK and chat about his concept.
Can you talk about the state of the music industry in France prior to starting My Major Company (MMC)?
I had been working in the music industry for five or six years before MMC, right when it was starting to hit rock bottom. Just to give you an idea, record labels had decreased by 50% in profits and had also reduced the number of new artists produced by 40%. This meant that riskier projects with talented new artists were not being financed… and those were the numbers even before the financial crisis hit! Some people simply blame the arrival of the internet with illegal downloading, but I think that the answer is a bit more complex.
Was the idea behind MMC always to provide a platform for young emerging artists?
Yes. I met two guys named Sevan and Anthony in the art direction department of BMG, where I was an intern at the time (ten years ago). We started our company called Bamago, which quickly evolved into the concept behind MMC: find talented up-and-coming musicians, raise funds with the help of users, sign him/her, and jump start their career.
Was this an original concept? I mean, it sounds so simple I can’t believe no one had thought of it before!
Someone had! It was originally a German concept called SellaBand that started six months prior to us (the company has since gone bankrupt). It was a bit different, but similar in the way that artists signed up on the site, people bet money on them, and when they’d garnered a certain amount they could produce them. We adapted it to the French market and the record label industry. Our competitive advantage is that our team is familiar with the music industry, as opposed to wanting to break into that industry. Other competitors lacked professionalism.
Let’s pretend I’m a user interested in starting to invest in an artist on the site: how do I proceed and which benefits should I expect?
Great question. First off, anyone can listen to all of the artists on the site for free. If you choose to invest, you can sign-up and create a free account to then start investing. As a user, you can buy anywhere between one and a hundred shares for an artist — one share being ten euros. When you’ve put in your money, you have access to a virtual producer space with statistics and the ability to vote on upcoming singles or album art. When the artist is produced, you get a share of the revenues.
How many artists have already been produced and launched?
Thirty-four. Or thirty-five. [laughs] I need to keep up!
Our readers might not know this, but your first produced artist was a success story. Actually, that might be a big understatement!
Gregoire reached the initial 70,000 euros — the original amount required at the launch of MMC — in less than two months. He was our first artist with an album that was already finished by the time he came to us. The real miracle behind this story is that his hit single, which was the number one hit in France for 2009, basically tells the story of MMC: “Toi plus moi plus nous plus tous ceux qui le veulent” (You and me and us and all those that want it). The music video is basically our entire team lip-synching to the song and having a grand time. The model and the single caught the attention of the media, and he had some real leverage in regards to being the first artist produced with MMC. His song became the biggest hit of 2008, selling one million albums in France in 2009 — probably the highest.
Do you limit yourselves in regards to the type of music you produce?
We have a little bit of everything, not very much urban music. But people who come to the site have been accustomed to artists like Gregoire or Joyce Jonathan. It’s the music that is the most appreciated in France, the most popular. French people like popular music. But on the site there is “The Label’s Selection,” which are recommended artists. On that selection, we try to bring a bit of diversity and original jam to our users — this also allows us to feature artists who might sing in English.
Just like any start-ups, we had to raise funds after a few months. The objective was to develop activity with two things: internationalization of the model, and trying to develop MMC in other cultural sectors. Each time, it’s in joint venture with competent individuals — for instance, XO Editions, a professional editor with major successes, teamed with us for MMC Books. We bring the professional and judicial aspect, and they bring their knowledge. As for MMC UK, those are our own teams and funds with no joint ventures.
How about films?
A movie costs millions of euros to make, and it’s harder to raise that kind of money on scripts. Some companies do it by having users participate in the distribution of an already-produced movie, but that’s not what MMC is about!
Would you like to bring your company to the United States? It’s strange that this model doesn’t already exist here, given the fact that today’s most popular artists like Bieber and Gaga became famous via YouTube.
Of course! We’re all about opportunities, and America seems like a wonderful place given the contacts we have and a general interest we suspect listeners will have. Our only problems will be judicial, and the fact that if we’re going to the U.S., we’ll have to do it big — and that’ll be costly.
How can our Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
If you are an incredible up-and-coming artist who might want to jump start your career in Europe, contact us. We pride ourselves on the diversity of the people on our site, so visit My Major Company and let us know about your music via the site.
Online at mymajorcompany.com
Interview by Gary Goldman. Photography courtesy of Michael Goldman. Originally appeared on Daily BR!NK.