Jon Vlassopulos is the CEO of Skyrockit, a mobile entertainment studio that helps brands, media companies and technology companies leverage mobile through the creation of products, services and marketing campaigns. Jon is recognized as a digital media and advertising visionary, having consistently created successful industry firsts throughout his career in the areas of mobile, Internet, television, music and gaming. Hypebot’s Hisham Dahud went to meet with Jon at Skyrockit’s offices in San Francisco to get a closer look at his popular music-remixing app ROMPLR, and get the executive's take on the current state of the music technology scene.
Jon Vlassopulos: Over the past 10+ years, the music industry has been transitioning from physical to digital, with digital sales now eclipsing physical sales in major markets like the UK and the US. The format, however, has still been songs either as albums or as downloads. The natural next step for the industry is exploitation of stems (the parts of a song). This will move us beyond the era of pure consumption and into the era of creation, interactivity and collaboration. Creative tools like ROMPLR help the average and more sophisticated fan engage with music in a new way, creating their own versions across mobile and social platforms, and then sharing them with their friends.
Stems initially will be sold as kits (Mixkits) where the consumer will be able to buy or subscribe to artists’ Mixkits. This will be a new revenue stream for labels, artists and publishers. Consumers and artists will then start embracing the new medium and creating their own songs from individual stems. Stems themselves will be bought or subscribed to, facilitating a new collaboration between artists and artists, fans and artists and fans and fans. More people will engage directly with music again as we have seen an average of 5 minutes spent with our Mixkits. Suddenly one song could have 50,000 new versions created by fans that can all be sold or subscribed to.
It is also a new opportunity for musicians to work with brands to secure new revenue from sponsorships. Due to the sticky nature of ROMPLR, brands are keen to be a part of the experience.
Hisham: What sorts of growth areas do you see right now within the music technology space?
Jon: Overall, there needs to be more innovation in the music tech space. I think many entrepreneurs and investors are currently shying away from creating new digital music companies that can drive that innovation due to the perception that it is difficult to work with the record labels and it is hard to create a sustainable new business model due to high licensing fees. There are some bright sparks, companies like Echonest, Spotify and iHeartRadio, who are doing a good job of helping drive digital music further into the mainstream, but more needs to be done to truly evolve the live music and recorded music space. Think about the concert experience, before, during and after – there are huge opportunities for innovation but generally that space is still focused on listing shows and buying tickets.
Hisham: How is your product, ROMPLR, addressing these growth areas?
Jon: ROMPLR attempting to create a new $100M+ revenue stream for the music industry by formalizing a new format, the Mixkit (a collection of stems that make up a song). We believe if all releases going forward have a Mixkit, then within a short period of time this will grow massive global adoption of the format.
ROMPLR is also a great way to revive interest in catalogue titles by tapping the nostalgia of creating your own version of classic dance, pop, and hip-hop tracks. Then for new releases, ROMPLR can drive the promotion of an album / download release by allowing fans to remix one or more tracks prior to street date. These pre-release Mixkits could also be sponsored by brands. For example Vitamin Water leveraged ROMPLR to connect their fans more closely with 50 Cent by allowing them to remix one of his hit songs. This garnered a 17% click through to purchase the iTunes downloads.
Hisham: What do you wish you saw more music technology companies doing in order to help advance the space?
Jon: Collaboration is key. There are so many good ideas lurking within the space and I genuinely believe there is interest to move the industry forward. I am hoping that we can set up a better ecosystem where brands, labels, artists, VC’s and technology companies can mutually understand each others’ goals and help create an exciting new era for the business with a host of new ideas that we never dreamed of to date. Making the fan a part of the creative process is the big opportunity. It’s time to make music interactive.