Brian O’Toole (Vibin.fm) – Interview (Part 1)

by Emilio on March 9, 2012

I’ve got a couple of cool interviews to share with you over the days to come. The first is this one with Brian O’Toole from Vibin.fm, the site that is aiming to become “the Pandora for electronica”. You’ll see from this interview how passionate Brian is, and how much he believes in what he’s doing. That’s reason enough for most people I know to check the service he’s created. I encourage you to give it a try – remember, you don’t even need to register for an account to begin listening to mixes and playing them to your friends as if you were David Guetta.

Well, if you’re aiming high why not aim for the top, I ask you?

 

Full Name: Brian O’Toole
Age: 23
Startup: Vibin.fm
Position: Founder & Creative Director

 

PART I

THE STARTUP

 

Tell us a little about your startup. How was it conceived? What are its most distinctive features in your opinion?

Vibin.fm was originally thought of inside a nightclub. I was out with a few friends and was completely overwhelmed to see just how much everyone loved electronic music. I’ve seen many different eras of music (90s rock, punk rock, 2000s rap, etc), but have never seen a generation of people so in awe with the club’s music – especially the DJ. I thought, why not create this experience for people to enjoy before the club, after the club… whenever! With that, Vibin was born.

To me, the most distinctive feature is the ability to press one button and stream unlimited, hand-crafted radio of your choice. Whether it is a favorite genre, favorite artist, DJ mix, or raving city, Vibin.fm allows you to party your night away in just one click. You can also filter each station by Tracks, DJ Mixes, or DJ sets. My favorite filter is DJ sets (40+ minute individual mixes), which bring the club experience to your computer. My other favorite feature is the ‘Discover’ mode. This feature helps you find new artist to enjoy, simply by entering an artist. Once you found one that you like, press ‘Listen’ and you’re all set to vibe!

What was the original launch date?

Friday, February 24th, 2012

What has been the response so far? In which countries has it been more successful?

The response has been awesome so far! We had over 2,000 page views in the first 4 days and have been featured in over 20 blog articles. Surprisingly, Spain has been the largest traffic source – especially in the city of Madrid. I’ve always wanted to visit Madrid, so I may have to plan a vacation in the near future.

What features can we expect to see implemented in future revisions?

In the near future, we expect to add a number of new features. The first, will be better stations/mixes. Our core feature is the ability to listen to streaming mixes with just one click and we want to keep improving upon these mixes. Next, we’d like to offer a better ‘Profile’ area. Then, we are looking to build an iPhone & Android mobile app. Although the site functions perfectly on a mobile browser, we’d like to make it as easy as possible for viewers to listen on the go and there is no better way than an app!

There is a certain tendency to demonize the Internet in the music industry. I think it is all a matter of perspective – it all depends on the uses it is put to. What is your opinion? In which areas has the Internet left an unquestionably positive mark?

If you are a music service, I think there is a certain line that you cannot cross – free downloads. If your service offers the ability to download music without compensating the Artist for their talents, then I believe you should be shut down. However, if you are a streaming music service and provide listening pleasure for your audience, then I believe you are helping the Artist far and beyond hurting them. Streaming services offer a platform for Artist exposure and should be thought of as a marketing stepping-stone for Artist success. No longer are many people willing to buy a hard copy of an Artist album. I personally believe albums are irrelevant. If you buy an album, chances are you only liked 2-3 of the singles from it, which means the other 10 songs are just sub-par. If you’re like me, then you would rather create mixes of songs you enjoy. The internet has left an unquestionably positive mark from this aspect alone – playlist creation sites. Are these sites legal? Maybe not all of them, but the ones that are pay millions to labels for the rights to songs. SOPA and other lobbyist efforts want to shutdown music providing sites for good, in which they think, will help stimulate the economy. I’d ask… if we shut down these services, what do we gain from it? Will CD purchases increase? Will the Artist generate more revenue? If there are not more CD’s purchased and the Artist is removed from the one way they were exposed the most, then no. So, we’d be hurting the Artist more by shutting down these online platforms. The ideal model is to offer an Artist exposure platform and reward users for sharing a particular Artist’s song. A great example of this is Grooveshark (www.grooveshark.com). Is it ironic that they are going through a tough law suit as we speak? This is the main reason why I chose to use resources that are available, without the hassle of lawsuits – APIs. Any song that is uploaded to SoundCloud.com’s plethora of music is able to be indexed on Vibin.fm. You get the wealth of choice from SoundCloud curated through Vibin.fm.

What advice could you give to anybody who is launching a music-related startup in the future? What are the obvious mistakes that should be avoided?

Be creative. If you are a music-related startup, or any type of startup, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take a look at what your competitors are doing well and what they could do better and figure out a unique niche to compete in their playing field. If you are a startup, it is impossible to compete with the big companies, but you can leverage their inefficiencies to create a targeted, niche service.

Continue reading part 2 of this interview (“Music & You”)

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