E133: Joey Flores of EarBits on This Week in Startups



about this episode

TWiST #133: Joey Flores of Earbits

Earbits CEO and Y Combinator grad Joey Flores stops by the TWiST studios to discuss how his new music platform could turn the recording industry on its ear. And, in a special Friday performance, Annemarie Cullen of the band Saucy Monky serenades Jason with a song written just for the show.

0:00-0:30 Today on This Week in Startups, we have in-studio guest Joey Flores of Earbits with musical guest Annemarie Cullen of the band Saucy Monky.
2:15-3:15 .CO ad.
3:15-4:00 Joey Flores is joining us today. Welcome.
4:00-4:45 Tell us about Earbits.
4:45-5:00 What was the inspiration for the site design?
5:00-6:00 How much of this experience is about the information around the band and how important is that?
6:00-6:30 You’ve created several channels, so it’s by genre for now? Tell the audience about the business model. (Watch the clip.)
6:30-7:30 Similar to the StumbleUpon model?
7:30-8:15 Annemarie, what do you think, as an artist, about the concept of buying radio time? (Watch the clip.)
8:15-8:45 How do you keep the quality in check?
8:45-9:30 As an artist, when you see something like Rebecca Black’s Friday get all that attention, what do you think?
9:30-10:45 How should people look at Earbits if it becomes successful in regards to the stigma of payola?
10:45-11:00 How do you maintain the quality of the stream?
11:00-11:45 What percentage do you think will be paid? Is there an issue if it’s 100% paid?
11:45-12:30 Isn’t the fact that they’re paying a signal of quality?
12:30-13:15 Is the user going to know if something is paid or not and is that necessary?
13:15-14:00 Back to the design: If the artist is on tour, is that something you overlay?
14:00-15:15 What’s your goal as an artist, Annemarie?
15:15-16:00 How much of your time is spent thinking about how to make the band sustainable?
16:00-17:00 How close are artists today to their fans? It seems like the model has changed in light of Twitter, Facebook, etc.
17:00-18:30 Viewing of Saucy Monky’s video for “No One’s Here Anymore.”
18:30-19:30 So you’re also shooting the music videos?
19:30-20:00 Jason discusses Irish music.
20:00-22:00 What do you think about the music industry itself? What do you think the labels are going to do? Will they start understanding the granularity of the technology?
22:00-23:00 Do you think it will get to the point where all music is free online?
23:00-24:00 What does it cost to make an album sound good?
24:00-25:00 What about the Kickstarter model? Do you think that is a sustainable model?
25:00-26:15 Is it key for bands to get people on their email lists?
26:15-26:45 Annemarie has written a song for the show, which we’ll hear after this ad for Go To Meeting.
26:45-29:00 Ad for Go To Meeting and announcement of new contest.
29:00-31:30 Annemarie plays her new song, written specially for TWiST. (Watch the clip.)
31:30-32:15 How do we find out about Saucy Monky’s next show?
32:15-35:00 Tyler, what do you think of Earbits?
35:00-36:00 Earbits is not only a beautiful interface, but people also get exposure to new bands. Why not include two established artists for every one new one?
36:00-36:30 Joey discusses how the design emerged from their time at Ycombinator.
36:30-37:00 Is it competitive there?
37:00-38:00 Is it mostly 22 year olds at Ycombinator? Were you the oldest?
38:00-38:45  Do you there’s been a quality drop off because of the number of people in the program? (Watch the clip.)
38:45-40:00 So you recommend it? How many investors/alumni did you pitch to?
40:00-41:00 Jason wishes Earbits continued success. Thank you to Go To Meeting and .CO for sponsoring.
41:00-42:00 Would Earbits be interested in working with someone like Topspin?
42:00-43:30 Annemarie, how did you come up with the name Saucy Monky?

Background on Joey Flores, Earbits and Annemarie Cullen of Saucy Monky

Information on Joey

  • Co-founded Earbits in January 2010
  • Dropped out of high school and worked at Taco Bell
  • Has 13 years of Internet marketing experience
  • Led business development for Affiliate Fuel, acquired by Experian
  • Became director of marketing for Experian Interactive
  • Helped merge LowerMyBills into Experian’s marketing team
  • Put his own band together while working for Mota Motors (buying/selling used cars)
  • Started Earbits because of frustration marketing his band
  • Co-founder of SportsCampConnection and advisor (since 2009)
  • Managing Partner at Startup Army, a consultancy for startups (2009-2010)
  • Loved the Y Combinator experience but happy to be back in LA

About Earbits

  • Streaming radio that is FREE to listeners and has no ads
  • Listeners can buy tracks, concert tickets, share songs on Facebook
  • Business model is charging artists for air time
  • But Earbits not charging until Q1 2012 – first want to prove Earbits delivers value
  • Part of the Winter 2011 class of Y Combinator
  • Has grown from 3 to 50 channels
  • Focused on broad market — not just for indie artists
  • Working with 95 record labels
  • Artists must meet production-quality and musicianship standards
  • Only accepts 3/10 artist applications
  • Creates radio stations for music websites — including Nashville.com
  • Building radio station for San Francisco Chronicle, could expand to all Hearst newsp
  • Using Yuri Milner/Ron Conway money to hire staff
  • Raising 1.5M right now – mostly angels, talking to some VCs

Information on Annmarie and Saucy Monky

  • Saucy Monky has been an Earbits client since the company began
  • Saucy Monky is on Twitter and FB but needs to work on its online marketing
  • Annmarie is Irish, came to LA after college
  • Co-founded Saucy Monky with Cynthia Catania
  • Saucy Monky’s music has been on Nickelodeon shows
  • Popular in gay community – profiled in gay media, music used in gay web series and indie movie
  • Band has toured in Annmarie’s native Ireland and across the US

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Jason: @jason
Tyler: @steepdecline
Earbits: @earbits
Saucy Monky: @saucymonky

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