As the founder, chairman and CEO of one of the top talent agencies in entertainment, Troy Carter knows music. Carter helped launch the career of Grammy Award-winning artist Lady Gaga and served as her manager for nearly seven years. He went on to manage John Legend and Meghan Trainor, among others. Today he is gaining attention as the founder of SMASHD/labs, a Los Angeles-based accelerator looking to help startups in the fields of entertainment, media, technology, and culture.
As an accelerator in a rapidly-evolving field, Troy gets a firsthand look at companies that are changing the world of entertainment. He's very familiar with music distribution platforms, which connect social media and music, making them a popular choice for startup founders everywhere. At the accelerator's recent demo day, Troy spoke to me about the future of music distribution platforms and how the industry will be affected by them.
Distribution of music.
Streaming music has experienced phenomenal growth in recent years. Spotify is expected to have 100 million users by the end of the year and Pandora already has 250 million on its platform. As Apple enters the already-burgeoning marketplace, Troy expects that we’ll see a global migration to streaming ( Adele notwithstanding). At the same time, Live Nation recently announced that it had its biggest quarter ever, indicating people are more interested in seeing live shows. Carter believes this is an indication that music has become more of a real-world experience for listeners.
“When that grows, I think the entire ecosystem grows, as well,” Troy says. “I'm very bullish on the future of music. When we have a billion people on streaming platforms across multiple platforms, I think it's going to be fantastic for artists and songwriters.”
As live streaming platforms grow, so will the technologies that power them. On SoundCloud alone, 12 hours of music are reportedly uploaded every minute. For someone to manually sort through all of that music would be impossible. Carter believes community-based tools are essential to help users sort through all of the content.
“There's no way in the world, if there are a million songs on any of these platforms, that I'm going to be able to know what I should be listening to at any given time,” Troy says.
One of the companies Carter works with is addressing that problem. SMASHD/labs has actually been working with five startups in the last few months. Among the group is Trakfire, a platform that allows users to discover and curate music from their favorite artists. The service has built a platform to allow users to up vote songs they like, which helps ensure quality content makes its way to the top. It is hoped that a Reddit or ProductHunt-type community might build around the platform.
Another Carter company addressing similar issues is the file sharing app WeShare, which allows artists to quickly send very large music files to each other.
With SMASHD/labs, Troy uses his connections in the industry to help young founders accelerate business development. Entrepreneurs develop their strategies in a supportive environment, which helps them put together their marketing, customer acquisitions, and product development plans.
As SMASHD/labs helps startups grow into successful companies, its founder is excited about technology’s role in the future of music. The music industry as a whole stands to gain from new innovations in the space, which make it easy for fans to discover music they will love.