SHELBY TWP. (WWJ) — Two Macomb County entrepreneurs have developed a new music app that blends new artists and bands in with the giants of the genre they’re performing in.
Best of all, Ourtunez even pays the startups higher royalties than the established artists.
A recent issue of Digital Music News had an intriguing statistic of one of the industry’s top streaming music sites — of the 20 million songs available, 4 million have never, ever been played. And how, the publication asks, can new artists ever hope to be played if no one knows they exist?
Ourtunez offers music aficionados the opportunity to discover new tunes and artists by blending popular music with indie music outside the mainstream, via several dozen streaming stations — across virtually every format.
Ourtunez creators Sam Munaco and Chris Ciaramitaro have been friends for more than 10 years. Both grew up in Shelby Township. Munaco went to Eisenhower High School and Michigan State University, Ciaramitaro to Lutheran North High School and Macomb Community College. Both are big-time music fans who put a lot of time and effort into finding new music when they were in high school — but then the real world struck.
Said Munaco: “When you’re in high school you have unlimited time and no responsibilities, so it was a lot easier to find new music. I had hours a day to look for new music. In college and after college, you don’t have the time. So we came up with the idea of making the process of finding new music as simple as listening. We blend independent artists that sign up through our web site in with mainstream stations.”
Ciaramitaro said the two have been working on the idea that is Ourtunez since late 2010. It took that long to work out the legal details, he said.
“Obviously with this industry there are a lot of unknowns in licensing and legal issues, so we spent a year and a half working with attorneys in Los Angeles and here making sure we did everything correct form the get-go, making sure everything was legal, and getting our patent in order,” Ciaramitaro said.
That’s unlike some other music sites that started playing music and then waited for the lawsuits to come in after they got big enough for the industry to notice, Ciaramitaro said. That’s because “we wanted to show we were in this to help musicians and truly for the love of music.”
New artists can sign up to have their music put in the mix on stations of every genre — blues, rock, alternative, rap, dance, pop, country and several different top-hits stations. This week the site is rolling out eight new stations, including one devoted to Grammy winners and nominees and another to the Bonnaroo festival.
The site, like Pandora, is non-interactive — you can’t select a specific song, only a genre. Royalties are paid to the proper music licensing bodies. And a company called Rovi supplies the artist metadata to the site.
Artists can sign up to have their songs played on the site in a variety of plans. Under the free plan, artists get a quarter of a penny per play. Under the highest level, the diamond plan, $14.99 a month, artists get a penny per play. Established artists get 0.23 cents per play, the going rate. Those who pay get more promotion on the site than those on the free plan. “Likes” on the site help determine the rotation and get new artists noticed by the music industry.
There’s a Web version of the app at ourtunez.com. It’s also available for download onto the iPhone and iPad. An Android app is planned for this summer. Rochester Hills-based Coil Group did the devleopment.
Ciaramitaro said the concept is “really going over well with artists. For a new artist to be played alongside a famous artist that they may be a fan of or may have been influenced by, they really like it.”