RockDex earns local and national attention
Their software application tracks data like band mention and song plays on social media sites and other Internet venues, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and music blogs. RockDex compiles, analyzes and presents the data so that musicians, managers, record labels, publicists, booking agents and others in the music industry can use it when making marketing decisions.
For example, last summer one band and their manager used RockDex data to settle a disagreement with their record label over what song they should budget a video for, said Jimmy Winter, RockDex’s creator.
“We showed them the marketing data, and all at once the manager says, ‘Wait, wait, what’s that?’” Winter said.
The data showed the song the manager and band wanted for the video was suddenly organically rising in popularity. The manager sent a screen shot of the RockDex data to the record label and the label agreed to use that song.
RockDex, part of Beyond Measure, LLC, has received attention both locally and nationally for its innovative market research capabilities for the music industry. In March, RockDex was one of five companies winning the SoundCtrl FlashFWD campaign at the SWSX Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas. According to SoundCtrl’s Web site, the award recognized companies that use scalable, community oriented, commercially viable and innovative technology to promote the music industry.
In November 2009, RockDex won Invest Nebraska’s East 2 West Nebraska Venture Competition, which earned the company a $50,000 equity investment from Invest Nebraska.
How did Winter, a young man originally from Gretna, Nebraska, start a company reaching the music industry, with its power players on the coasts and in larger cities? While still in high school, Winter caught the attention of a company called Fastmusic.com in New York City. When Winter had technical difficulties ordering four punk rock CDs from the new Fastmusic.com’s Web site, he emailed the company with possible solutions to the online ordering issues.
“And it kind of fixed the problem. So me, being 17 years old, I just called them up every couple days … I just kept talking to them and eventually they offered me a job. I was really lucky, in the right place at the right time. Story of my life,” Winter said with a laugh.
He worked remotely for Fastmusic.com during his senior year of high school. The company flew him to New York ever month or two, and he spent most of the summer of 2000 there, he said.
Winter later developed Music Arsenal, a contact relationship manager (CRM) application for Drive-Thru Records, retaining the rights to it so he could market it to other labels and bands. With investments from family and friends, Winter developed and sold the Music Arsenal for several years, traveling to music industry conferences across the country.
Winter said he was thinking about ways to make Music Arsenal better when he came up with the idea for RockDex. His original concept was for a site that would send Web traffic to Music Arsenal.
“And then I went down to SXSW last year,” Winter said, “You know, banging the Music Arsenal drum like I have for the past four years before that, and people were saying, ‘Music Arsenal, that’s cool. Tell us more about RockDex.’”
People quickly grasped how RockDex could meet their business needs, Winter said.
“Music Arsenal never made a ton of money. But everything I learned there I can now apply to RockDex,” he said.
RockDex’s merger in 2009 with Kansas City-based Locker Partners, a social-media, marketing and music management company whose employees have years of music industry experience, put the action to the analytics. RockDex analyzes the data for subscribers and provides marketing suggestions. For example, RockDex might encourage band members to tweet to fans living near an upcoming concert location.
“We’re really big into not just giving our clients a big pile of data,” Winter said. “It’s nice and it’s pretty but it’s not going to do anybody any good. We want to make sure the data makes financial sense, you know. We don’t want you paying for this if you’re not going to use it or understand it. So we work with the labels and artist about how to make sense of what the numbers mean.”
RockDex not only provides broad baseline data to let a band or label know how they are doing, but also gives them “deeper” data than competitors provide, Winter said. RockDex collects samples of what people are saying on Facebook or Twitter, and what links are being shared.
By looking at a snapshot of data, Winter said, RockDex can give subscribers not only numbers, like how many fans were gained on a given day, but also deep data like what people actually said about the band that day. “What were the key words people were using? Was it ‘video?’ Was it ‘Rolling Stones article?’ Was it ‘new single’ or ‘new song?’ And then that gives you a much broader picture and a deeper understanding of those numbers,” he said.
Winter said talking to others with experience helped prepare him to be an entrepreneur.
“I’ve had a lot of advice from some really smart people,” Winter said. A representative from SCORE, a nonprofit business counseling organization, helped him with his winning RockDex business plan, and he’s received advice from Ken Moreano, director of the Scott Technology Center, where RockDex is a virtual incubator company. In addition, Silicon Prairie News has been supportive, he said.
“Before Silicon Prairie News, I never knew there were any really cool Web startups in Omaha,” he said.
The RockDex Pro application has been available as a private beta for a little over a year, but Winter said to watch for their public launch soon.