Gimme Radio: Building A Fan Driven Music Streaming Service
In this piece, Gimme Radio's Tyler Lenane outlines why they felt compelled to start another streaming service in an already crowded sector and how Gimme Radio differentiates themselves from other platforms by focusing on serving the passionate fan.
Guest post by Tyler Lenane, CEO of Gimme Radio
With Gimme Radio entering its 20th month, launching a new crowdfunding campaign on the SeedInvest platform and just last week announcing our next genre, Gimme Country, I’d like to answer a question that I get asked by investors, record labels and my former colleagues from the digital music industry: “why did you start a new music service?”
I get asked this because I spent over 10 years working at places like Apple Music, Beats Music, Rhapsody, and MOG. I saw the same music services launched over and over, saw the same deals executed, and the same partnerships launched. I saw company after company struggle with the business and fail, or get sold.
What I also saw working at those companies was the same business strategy used time and time again: get as many people to sign up as quickly as you can with the hope that one day there’d be enough people on the platform so that the company could change the economics with the content owners and actually build a sustainable business. This strategy means appealing to the greatest number of people possible, which means focusing mainly on pop and popular hip-hop, thereby ignoring millions of passionate music fans of other types of music. I saw that as an opportunity.
We built a new music service because no service was giving the passionate fan what she wanted. At the core of Gimme Radio’s philosophy is that the most valuable listener — the passionate fan — wants more than a search box and 50 million songs, she wants more than algorithmically generated recommendations, and she wants more than mood and activity playlists. Gimme Radio has shown that fans want to interact with other fans in meaningful ways, they want direct access to artists, they want true music discovery by people they trust, and they want different ways to express their fandom.
And rather than build the same music service (think about it: Spotify today is not a whole lot different from what Rhapsody was in 2004) or the same online radio platform (Pandora has remained relatively unchanged since I first used it in 2005), and rather than promoting a 50 million catalog, our approach has instead been to build communities of these passionate fans on a genre by genre basis. Communities where the passionate fans, the artists, the labels, the journalists all participate. Long term, our strategy is to build a network of highly-engaged communities of these passionate fans across all genres. We started with metal, but that’s just the beginning.
How did we do it?
There isn’t just one type of fan; building a community means appealing to all types of fans. Gimme borrowed from the video gaming developer world, and used our own version of the Bartle Taxonomy of Player Types to come up what we believe are the four types of fans:
- The Explorer: This is the person who is looking for the deep cuts, the forgotten bands, the newest artists. On Gimme Radio we allow DJs to play what they want within the genre, we don’t force them to abide by limited lists of vetted tracks. They play demos, live cuts, rarities. In any given month we know that between 24% and 49% of the tracks played on Gimme Radio have not been played by any other online radio platform or satellite radio.
- The Socializer: This is the fan who wants to interact with other fans and with artists. They want more connection than what Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram allows. On Gimme Radio we built a live feed where listeners can have a conversation real time with other fans as well as the DJ and other artists on the service, about the music they are hearing. Visit the feed at any time and you’ll see people from all over the world discussing the music. These Gimme fans are holding meetups in their home cities with other Gimme listeners. The Gimme Community is global and they visit each other on their travels away from home. We have listeners who listen to over 200 hours of the service each month and who make over 2,000 comments in the live feed.
- The Collector: This is the fan who needs every color vinyl variant of a record, the person who signs up for VIP tickets to festivals, and buys fan experiences. On Gimme, we’ve launched a store that has limited and exclusive music, merchandise, artwork, all for the collector and all accessible from within the experience. We have listeners who have already spent over $1,000 in our store — what it would take over 8 years to spend on Apple Music.
- The Influencer: These are the music fans who need to know everything about every artist and album in the genre and need to share that knowledge with other fans. On Gimme Radio these are our listeners in the chat who educate others about the music. These are the fans who sign up to do one of our “Listener Shows,” where for two hours, they are in control of Gimme Radio. Currently, there is a 12-month waiting list for listeners who want one of these shows.
Gimme Radio considers each of these personas as we launch new features and as we grow our business. For example, our monthly subscription service, The Brigade, is positioned as a true membership that not only gives you on demand and offline access to all our past programming, it also gives you 15% off in the store, a personalized Gimme Brigade patch, a special Brigade shirt, and other perks like early access to merchandise, Brigade-only records in the store, and special offers from our label partners. And now we are taking the community one step further by allowing our listeners to invest directly in Gimme Radio with SeedInvest.
“Actually, this community is better than the music.” — LustDagger
And by catering to each of these personas, Gimme has been able to build a very highly engaged global metal community, unlike anything that exists on the other music services. Our listeners refer to Gimme Radio as their ‘home’ (has anyone ever referred to Pandora like that?), they refer to the other listeners as their ‘family,’ they sew our patches on their clothes and wear our logo proudly. In fact, our Gimme Radio t-shirts are the biggest selling item on our platform. If you wear an Amazon Music shirt it’s only because you, or someone in your family, work there.
But we’ve only just scratched the surface of building the tools and features that can make this community even stronger, and more appealing.
We are going to start launching other communities in other genres, and we are going to build homes and families there, too. That’s why I am so excited to announce we are launching Gimme Country in the coming months. Here, we’ll serve the fans of country music that sits outside of the mainstream country, the music that doesn’t get played on terrestrial radio or promoted on the other digital music services — the legacy artist, what has been deemed outlaw country, Americana, women artists. We believe that we can build a vibrant and engaged community for these country fans just like we did in metal.
Because the idea of community is not just specific to metal, it’s universal to music.
Watch us grow.
Tyler Lenane is the CEO and founder of Gimme Radio.
Gimme Radio is offering securities under Regulation CF and Rule 506(c) of Regulation D through SI Securities, LLC (“SI Securities”). The Company has filed a Form C with the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with its offering, a copy of which may be obtained at seedinveset.com/gimmeradio.