Interview with Jonathan Schreiber, Xingtone CEO

Jonthan Schreiber, CEO of XingtoneI had a chance to speak with Jonathan Schreiber, CEO of Xingtone, about their latest beta service launch, mStore.  As I mentioned yesterday, mStore allows artists to create ringtone stores for their music, and even offers a free mStore option that includes up to three songs and 50 free downloads.  (check out the no-frills GarageSpin Ringtone Store to see an example of one…hey, it’s beta, and it works).

Jonthan explains what Xingtone is all about, and how mStore helps independent artists promote their music.

GARAGESPIN: How and why was Xingtone founded, and how has it evolved since?
 
JONATHAN:  Xingtone was started in early 2003 by a couple of guys located literally around the world who wanted to be able to put their favorite music on their cell phones.  The process of on-the-fly conversion was so new and controversial that it drove the industry nuts.  Xingtone, in its early incarnation, was about putting our content on to our phones.  But as we and the industry matured, we soon realized that a tremendous opportunity existed to serve the ‘other’ 95% of content creators who were not being serviced.
 
GARAGESPIN: Xingtone is currently partnered with independent music distributor Orchard.  How is Xingtone helping Orchard artists?
 
JONATHAN:  The Orchard is a wonderful company (as are our other partners, including IRIS, DRA, DMW, etc.) that helps independent artists distribute their content – mobile or otherwise.  The quandary, however, is that even aggregators are at the mercy of the size of the mobile deck.  With 600K in aggregated content, how much can the carriers truly merchandise?  Partnering with Xingtone allows The Orchard to offer an additional value to their partners by selling mobile content directly from the artist or content–owner’s website, thereby creating more opportunity and expanding the overall market.
 
GARAGESPIN: You've launched a beta version of the self-serve ringtone store creator, mStore.  What inspired and/or motivated the creation of mStore? 
 
JONATHAN:  mStore was inspired by a combination of opportunity and demand. Xingtone began to receive feedback from people who purchased our software – mainly artists who wanted their music on their phone – who asked if they could leverage Xingtone software to send content to their friends’ phones.  Because of our respect for copyright holders, we cripple any sharing functionality from within our application.  When you cross pollinate this with the size of the mobile deck and the limited knowledge a carrier­or even an aggregator­has in marketing to the ”music crowd,” it was obvious that something was needed to help the indie music scene, both from an artist and fan perspective.
 
GARAGESPIN: What kind of feedback have you received?
 
JONATHAN:  Only positive.  People are very excited to be able to take control over the mobile content aspect of their business.  We believe that we have flipped the business on its head.  We put any content owner with any form of audience in the position to make money from the mobile market.  Our customers, partners, and the end-consumer really appreciate the reality of that.
 
GARAGESPIN: How do you feel a ringtone store can help unsigned and independent artists promote their music?
 
JONATHAN:  In any new media there are three potential ‘victories’ to a content owner: revenue, promotions and co-op marketing.  It is unlikely that an artist will capture all three, but two at a time is definitely possible.  Artists, signed or otherwise, can utilize both their content and their audience to create additional value.  This can be realized as increased revenue, rewards to fans, CD Buyers, concert goers, giveaways, and more.  Mobile content is not rocket science, it is just another way for artists to connect with their fans (for more information about this topic, see my blog entry for October 2005 – www.taipanway.com Indie vs. Major - The future of the record business)
 
GARAGESPIN: Do you have any artist success stories?
 
JONATHAN:  We have over 100 content owners using our service and we expect over 10,000 by the end of the year.  Success can only be defined by our customers.  I would say that because we try to manage our customers’ expectations, ALL of our customers have been a success story.  On the other hand, has an artist who does not have a fan base yet gone on to sell a million CDs?  Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, the answer is no.  Keep in mind that we consider ourselves axes, picks and shovels – we do not make people successful, we just give potentially successful people really good tools.
 
GARAGESPIN: You've taken a novel approach by offering a free service tier, which lets artists build an mStore with a maximum of three, free ringtones.  Very cool.  How does Xingtone benefit? 
 
JONATHAN:  The benefits to Xingtone are numerous. 
 
1) We help the indie market and we build relationships with good people.  This is KEY!
2) We learn from our customers who are not ”paying us” so that we have more flexibility and goodwill towards a free product.
3) We build brand integrity and mind-share.
4) We manage our customers’ expectations (we tell all of our customers that they shouldn’t pay us for a ringtone store if they aren’t sure they can sell ringtones).
5) As an artist grows we provide solutions that grow with them.
 
GARAGESPIN: Do you have any advice for unsigned musicians aspiring to
become rock stars?
 
JONATHAN:  (Check out the blog entry I reference above).  If there is one thing I would say it is that the market is far different than it previously was – you do not need to be on a major label to succeed.  In fact, your goal should not be to be on a major label.  It might make sense at some point but that should not be your end goal.  Success should be your end goal.  That perspective allows you to be more flexible, to build your brand, your business, and your fan base.  If you are a great touring band then give away your music to create a fan base and make money on concerts.  Use new media, networking sites such as myspace.com, and become technical.  Million dollar videos don’t make stars – great music does.
 
GARAGESPIN: Are you a musician?  If yes, do you have any music we can check out?
 
JONATHAN:  I wish I was but I cannot sing, play an instrument, or even hum in tune.  If anyone out there wants to give me some free guitar lessons I would love that.
 
Thank you for the time we really appreciate the support!

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Comments

Have you seen ToneThis?

This program is nothing but a cheat and a rip off..you can not access there server..so when you get text message it directs you to 404 page not found,only driving up your cell phone bill through texting and web access but no ringtone.

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