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Musistic : Music Technology Company

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We had a nice chat with Mr. “Jimbo Lattimore”, CEO of the Memphis USA-based start-up “Musistic” about his Company.

Below is the interview we conducted with him:

1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?

Musistic is a Memphis-based music technology company that has developed a tool that allows musicians to record with anyone, anywhere, anytime regardless of which recording software is being used.

Using the industry standard plugin formats (VST, AudioUnit, AAX, and RTAS), we allow musicians to interact and collaborate without ever leaving their workstation.  With our soon to be released Musistic Sessions collaboration hub, musicians with be able to connect and record with other musicians anywhere around the globe.   

Musistic is the first company to provide end-to-end creative crowdsourcing for the music industry.

2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?

Musistic was founded in February of 2013 upon acceptance to the StartCo SeedHatchery accelerator.

We have recently closed out our Angel funding round and are in the product launch phase. We rolled out the beta version of our plugin 60 days ago and exceeded our projected number of new users quickly.

We are maintaining a presence at major trade shows/conferences and establishing partnerships with music schools and industry-recognized companies.

In the next week, we will releasing the newest version of our plugin and announcing a major overhaul to our website with a considerable improvement in functionality for our users.

3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?

We offer our users the option of an monthly or annual subscription. Musistic’s monthly subscription price ranges from $10 per month for a single user to $200 per month for recording studios. We also have special pricing for students and audio institutes.

The subscription includes unlimited invites to your recording session for collaborators. The invited collaborator can download the plugin for free and work on your project.  For that invited collaborator to work on his/her own projects and invite others, the user must become a subscribing member.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

Justin Olita and Vince Rogers met at age 14 and started a band.  After facing problems recording remotely, Justin had an idea for a version of the idea that became Musistic. He brought Vince on as partner to build the idea.
 
The two founders knew CTO Brian Wentzloff from his previous work with another startup.  Brian’s unique combination of programming skills and music engineering background made him an easy choice to head up the company’s product development.
 
We were networking with mentors and met Jim Lattimore in the process. With his extensive background in both audio recording and business, Lattimore leads the Musistic team as CEO. Vince Rogers is the COO. Joel Halpern, who is an owner in a local marketing firm (Loaded for Bear) that provided Musistic with a creative capital investment, was brought in as Chief Marketing Officer.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

Other options exist, compatibility does not. There have been several attempts to recreate a universal “digital studio in the cloud.” This requires user to change their behavior abandoning their current DAW and relearn an entire new program. DAWs are very complicated pieces of software. Asking the user to learn a new one is essentially the same as asking them to switch instruments.

As a plugin, Musistic allows you to stay in your workflow. You don’t ever have to get out of your DAW. So no downtime messing with new programs as you are already familiar with loading a plugin if you are using recording software.

Any DAW user is already familiar with how to load a plugin on their recording session which means no learning curve for them to include Musistic into their current workflow.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?

In the last 60 days since launch, Musistic has over 400 users and our social media launch netted 29,900+ Facebook followers. We have closed our angel round funding of $215,000.
–                  Established corporate office
–                  Established relationships with major DAW developers
–                  Attended North American Music Merchants (NAMM), Folk Alliance International Conferences, and Moogfest
–                  Agreement reached with independent sales reps
–                  Preliminary discussions with major online retailer
–                  Increased speed of our plugin.
–         Added additional user functionality to our website
–                  Developed relationship with numerous music schools.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?

No true compatibility exists between DAWs outside of Musistic. We have identified companies that provide partial solutions but no other full end-to-end solution.

Storage and transfer competitors include Gobbler, Dropbox, iCloud and even Fedex. Collaboration competitors include: Avid Everywhere, Blend.io, Cubase VST Connect,  Indabamusic, OhmStudio, and Groovezoo.

Musistic’s advantages include:
– Zero Unproductive Downtime
– Patent-Pending industry standard plugin
– DAW agnostic
– Zero Learning Curve
– No Switching Costs
– No Loss of Audio Quality
– Affordable for the average musician

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

Beyond the typical problems that new startups face at the early phase (funding, resources, not enough time in the day, etc.) Avid/Pro Tools, the largest market share of DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software, has announced plans to create a collaboration hub very similar to ours. Staying ahead of a large company with a loyal customer base is always a challenge. Avid’s plans still only include working within their own products however as opposed to Musistic- which is compatible with all. 

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

Most people don’t understand the downtime and costs that are involved with getting musicians together to record with one another. Audio files are so large that people are still physically mailing external hard drives to one another!  When you consider the multiple reiterations involved with the recording process, this can get quite cumbersome.
 
The Internet has yet to reach the holy grail of collaboration, especially for musicians and music producers. Compatibility is a valuable thing when it comes to recording and creating music.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

Because our Kung Fu is the best Kung Fu! Musistic brings a new functionality to Digital Audio Workstations that have not been previously available through manual audio conversion processes or social collaboration workarounds. Musicians all over the world are restricted by the lack of a product that could create these bridges and unite talents.  We are breaking down the barriers that keep musicians from collaborating.

11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

As we continue to roll out more features, our future product pipeline will include:
 
– Mobile recording app.
-Transaction Marketplace
– Professional Musician Network
– Leveraging our technology into video collaboration
 
Musicians will be able to increase their income on the road, at home, on their own time. Imagine a LinkedIn for Musicians. While this idea has certainly been attempted, Musistic’s tool drives network creation.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?

Musistic was founded by musicians for musicians. We were all aware of the problems present in remote collaboration and wanted to find a solution so we didn’t have to keep up/downloading or shipping files on a hard drive just to get our jam on. So we created a plugin that solved that problem.  We are also limited by the network we have around us for collaboration.  With out Musistic Sessions, we will be able to create better music by leveraging better talent.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea? (Min. 300 characters):
We’ve learned that there are a large number of musicians that have given up on the idea of remote collaboration simply because they refuse to change their workflow.
Some have even given up on collaboration in general because previous attempts have been more of a problem and frustration than a solution.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Six months from now, our biggest problem will be ensuring that our new products and features that we roll out fit with our philosophy of speed and compatibility. We need to stay ahead of the curve and make sure that we remain the quickest solution with everything we build.  Finding strong development talent will be part of that challenge.  Everyone on the team now has music industry/recording experience and we would like to keep it that way for as long as we can.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

A larger network of musicians means an increase in creativity. Collaboration enhances the quality of music. Seamless remote collaboration method is a dream come true for musicians.
 
For me personally, it means that I can collaborate as easily with my ex-bandmate who has a studio in Moscow, TN as I can with another ex-bandmate who lives in Moscow, Russia.
 
We believe that our technology will allow musicians to make better records by increasing their access to talent, no matter where that talent is.

16. How did customers / users find out about you?

We see music as being viral by its very nature.  It’s more fun when you have someone to play with.  So we allow our users to invite collaborators in for free to work on a particular session.  If those collaborators want to invite someone to a project, they must become a subscriber.  Many of our users are coming from music schools as we partner with those schools.  Finally, we have used social media as much as we could to attract users.

17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?

Current customers range from students to universities to major recording studios.  Our product works on most DAW’s from GarageBand to the high-end studio software. So really anyone with a computer and an interest in making music is our target customer.  This would include: students, professional studio musicians, producers, engineers, studio operators, and hobbyists.

18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

Recording technology institutes as well as industry blogs have been very excited to work with us and use their network to obtain beta testers and users. Our product is viral by nature. For the most part, musicians and producers want to collaborate with other musicians. Musisitic arms them with the right tool to do so in a way that they haven’t previously been able to do. Our invite functionality encourages our users to bring on other users.

19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?

The initial response was tremendous. Our target audience have been waiting on a seamless way to accomplish remote collaboration and all have said that our concept of using the plugin to do so is undoubtedly the best solution. Our feedback has been mostly great but more importantly our feedback has driven us to identify what users really want to see and focus on delivering that to them.

20. How are you going to scale?

We intended to partner with music schools around the country to get their students using our product.  We are also in discussions with a large US music retailer about using our product and selling it in their stores.  We hope to leverage our industry contacts and sign on some highly visible users in the very near future.

As we scale, hiring talented developers will be out biggest challenge.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

A number customers that we speak to ask if our product is in real-time. Getting everyone in the same place at the same time to create music is painful enough. Musistic is all about letting musicians work with others in their own time.

We are always working on ways to speed up the plugin but the reality is the laws of physics prevent real-time DAW-to-DAW collaboration at studio quality resolution.
 
The speed of light limits how fast the data can be transferred even with fiber all the way. From our location in Memphis to LA, the speed of light takes about 11 mil sec. Adding in the limitations of ISP’s, networks, and DAW processing, the delay could be more than 100 ms. Even a 10 mil sec latency in the studio can mess up players so 100 ms is unworkable .

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

Certainly we are looking to internationalize.  Why stop there?  Why not galactic?  But seriously, we have made contacts with Europe’s largest online retailer and music schools in Europe and South America.  We are also currently talking to a potential partner about expanding into the Pacific Rim particularly Indonesia.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

Global and beyond!
 
As musicians, we are often limited to working with the people in our immediate network. Musistic allows us to broaden those boundaries.

The more musicians and producers working together from around the world, the more exciting the experience becomes.

The idea of being able to add a Tabla player from India for example on to a track is intriguing to most. This is the idea of our global collaboration hub- to explore new influences and enhance the  creative process of making music. 

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

As we expand and scale, the need for talented developers will be top priority to keep our technology ahead of the curve.  Currently we do not have any open positions but are always interested in talking to talented people. Our biggest challenge is finding skilled team members who understand and have experience with recording.
 
We are always open to discussions with potential affiliate sales partners who are as passionate about Musistic as we are.

Drop us a line: team@musistic.com

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

If we continue on our current path we should be self sustainable by the end of the summer.  That being said we are currently looking for strategic investors in the 2-5 million range.  This investment will help us accelerate our growth and product development.

Contact: jim@musistic.com or give us a call 844-MUSISTIC

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

Follow your passion. If you’re not passionate about what you’re building- nobody else will be.
 
Surround yourself with people that are more experienced than you. Never underestimate the value of mentor ship. Whatever ups and downs you are going through, they have been through already.
 
Guidance is crucial.

27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Musistic was founded by musicians for musicians.  Everything we do is shaped by that idea.  We talked to many studios during the development of the initial product and Musistic can be a big part of what traditional studios do.  How often does a project require a musician to come back into the studio for overdubs?  A lot!  With the Musistic plugin, the overdubs can be done remotely saving the hit to the recording budget of paying for travel.
 
Also, traditional studios have a lot of money invested in great equipment.  Musistic can be a way for those studios to utilize that awesome gear. 

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