Billboard Names 10 Best Digital Music Startups

Rdio Named Digital Music Startup Of The Year

This week's Billboard Magazine named their 10 Best Digital Music Startups of 2010 and the list includes some surprising choices. To learn more about how the process, we turned to Billboard Senior Editorial Analyst Glenn Peoples. Many Hypebot readers remember Peoples from his now dormant blog image from blog.discoveryeducation.com Coolfer

How these 10 were chosen?
PEOPLES: Companies selected have good products and capable leadership, and tended to have products that try to solve a particular problem or fill a void.

When looking at this general category, did you see any sectors as over or under served?
PEOPLES: I’m not sure any particular category was overserviced by new companies that launched in the last year or so. A year ago I would have said there were too many music streaming services for too few consumers. Then a company like Rdio comes along with a better product that has the potential to increase the size of the market. But there are areas of high concentration out there. It’s not surprising there are no new digital distributors in our top ten. That’s a category that could probably stand to be more concentrated than it is today.

Billboard's 10 Best Digital Music Startups:


"Where Some See Chaos Or Even Doom, Others See Opportunity: The Following Companies And Entrepreneurs All Share A Vision That The Best Days Of The Music Industry Are Not Behind Us, But Still Lie Ahead"

1. RDIO (Startup Of The Year)


What do you think of Billboard's choices?

Who is missing from your Top 10 Digital Music Startups?


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  1. Great list! I would check out a recently launched site called Fuzzedout – a music discovery site that’s fun and engaging, where users vote for their favorite track and download it for free. At the end of the week the top ranked song is available to everyone for free. It’s completely legal and artists and fans are really enjoying it.
    Brian Sapp – Founder of Fuzzedout

  2. I’m surprised that musicdealers.com isn’t on this list? That companies had over 400 serious paying opportunities for artists so far. Some that were over $50K. I would say that “fills a void” in the music industry today. Sorry Music Dealers, you deserve to be here.

  3. An interesting music start-up left off the list is uPlaya, which has the Hit Song Science technology. With Hit Song Science, you can get instant, statistically-based analysis of the commercial potential of a given song. They also provide a lot of digital marketing apps for independent musicians so they can share their scores and music online.

  4. I have always liked Glen’s analysis. However, I don’t get this list. Some of these companies have minimal marketplace traction, while there are overlapping competitors that seem to be growing much faster?
    Take a look at this Compete graph (for example)..
    And RDIO as number one – huh?

  5. Umm… Where is ReverbNation, as far as usefulness to musicians and market penetration they’d by far be number one.

  6. I wonder if Billboard used any kind of qualification metrics, like how long it’d been since the company launched, how much funding they’d received, etc…
    Companies like Vevo have a bit of an advantage over RootMusic, so it’s odd to see them grouped together.
    Overall though, great companies doing great things for musicians and fans.

  7. This is certainly a useful list by Billboard. However what is the definition of “best’?
    Does “best” means most successful or profitable or does it mean the one with the most eyeballs or traffic?
    Since we are referring to business start-ups, then I would assume it is all about the business model not the eyeballs. Anyone think any of these companies will be around in a few years time?
    My issue is this: all legal websites hold pretty much the same catalogs of music. So what is the differentiating factor? The price? That is pretty much the same. Is it the experience? If it is, how does it translate to profits?
    Can’t all these websites imitated? If you take away VEVO, which was a Youtube integration/reaction, the rest will probably not be around in 5 years.
    Who is the game changer from these companies?

  8. uPlaya is not really a start-up. They have been around for a while with Hit Song Science. Even had a Harvard Business School case study written about them a few years back. Interesting technology on hit prediction though.

  9. I love Reverbnation and I think they are one of the most useful sites for today’s indie musicians. However it is far from a startup.
    First round of financing was $2 million in 2006 when it used to be called eMinor. In 2008 they got another $3 million by ETF, Novak and Southern Capitol Ventures in their second round of funding. They have done an excellent job in my opinion.

  10. Hypebot, would it be possible to get clarification on the criteria that were used to qualify companies for this list? I looked at 5 of them and didn’t find one that was started in 2010, but did find one that was started in 2007 (does that really qualify as a ‘2010 startup?).
    Kickstarter: Founded in 2009
    Songkick: Founded in 2007
    Next Big Sound: Founded prior to June 2009
    Vevo: Launched in dec 2009
    Rootmusic: Founded in 2009
    Look at the copyright on their webpages

  11. http://www.supernova.com relaunched recently and has an amazing variety of DIY band promotional tools, as well as built in community metrics to measure a particular song or artist’s ‘popularity’ week to week.
    They’re moving in the same direction as some of the above, worth checking out!

  12. Ha ha. We started 18 months ago. All our backing comes out of our pocket (from our regular work). We are the epitome of doing something for independent and DIY bands excluded from the little boys cabal of Pres/PR/Players. And we most definitely don’t have the same content as everyone else, or are doing anything like anyone else.
    So why aren’t we on the list?

  13. ps: it looks like Rdio is totally flash, and it isn’t loading at the moment.. ha ha, got to laugh at a business model which includes a site that doesn’t load.

  14. Great to see Rootmusic on there. Just need SoundCloud added on the list 😉
    But just goes to show how many interesting digital music companies are out there at the moment. Extension.fm, Mobile Roadie, BandCentral, could have all made the list.

  15. PodSwarm.com is missing on the list, still in stealth mood though so might be why its left out
    (still cant figure out why they make these kind of lists before the year 2010 is over)

  16. This list is very diverse. I haven’t heard of many of the websites besides Vevo, actually. They’re all very nifty.
    Constantine: In response to your question- most likely Hello Music and My Worx will still be around because they aren’t like all of the other websites on the list. IMO, its what makes the website stand out that gives it the staying power it needs to make it to the end.

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