Anyone who’s ever aspired to be a professional musician (my 12-year-old self included) knows that it’s a tough lifestyle with little guarantee of financial security. That’s why a new startup, Set.fm, is providing musical artists with another stream of revenue by selling live recordings. Set.fm has raised $1.2 million in seed funding, led by Golden Venture Partners, to launch its mobile app so fans can easily download audio recordings of live performances.
To use Set.fm, musicians pay their own production and venue fees, choose which recording solution to use (iPad, iPhone or desktop) and hit the record button once the show starts. Set.fm software will then stream the music from the soundboard, convert the analog signals into digital signals and encode the performance and metadata all in real time. Uploading and transcoding the show as it is recording allows fans to download the performance seconds after it ends.
Set.fm also provides users who want to capture their experiences by phone recordings with a higher-quality file than they could obtain themselves. Founder and CEO Matt Peterson says most venues have audio at around 120 decibels, while an iPhone microphone can only handle about 95 decibels before the quality starts to degrade.
Depending on the size and type of artist, the musician and Set.fm split the profits after any transaction fees. Recordings run from about $5 to $20 to download, and Peterson tells me about 14 percent of audiences purchased the live recordings. He believes that music purchases are moving away from studio recordings, which are mainly being distributed through platforms like Spotify and Pandora.
“There’s almost no revenue left from those sources. It’s not
that fans aren’t spending as much, they’re just not spending as much on studio recordings,” Peterson tells me. “There’s boom there for the live concert recordings.”
Peterson isn’t the only one who’s looking to maximize on the increase of live recordings. Another recently launched startup, Lively, has raised $500,000 to help users record audio and video of their live performances. iTunes also has a platform called Live Nation for buying exclusive, live performance recordings of its events.
While companies like iTunes and YouTube might be the go-to for fans of well-known artists, Peterson’s app is geared towards what he describes as “professional indies.” These musicians don’t necessarily want to become famous rock stars, but are looking to simply make a living performing their music. For these artists, Set.fm is meant to be a supplementary source of revenue, as well as a way to keep connected with fans.
Peterson is not keen on expanding to offer video recordings, because he says Set.fm is focused on instant availability. Although integrating video services would make Set.fm more competitive with similar services, it would also add in a slew of complications that could slow recording.
Founded in 2011, Set.fm has been a bootstrapped company until this first round of funding, which will go toward technical development of the platform and expansion in marketing. The service is available in about 60 venues across the United States and is moving into Canada, as well.