Prior to the DVD, the music industry worked to develop enhanced CD Audio discs containing additional features such as interview with the artists, music videos, fan clubs, online connections, online merchandise stores, interactive sheet music and MIDI files, and other options. Digital Cowboys created numerous designs and prototypes.
Formed in 1996, Liquid Audio developed a major standard, multiple software clients, and a client/server media distribution system for streaming and downloading audio on the Internet. Along with RealNetworks, Liquid Audio was one of two emerging online audio standards in the 1990s – pre Napster.
Liquid Audio was was the first company to deliver secure music over the Internet. Liquid Audio had the first digital music commerce system featuring copy protection and copyright management, as well as the first and largest digital music distribution network. The company was a pioneer in enabling copyright compliant media distribution, working closely with record companies and publishing rights agencies.
Digital Cowboys was the primary startup advisor to the company and the project was to help define the marketing and business strategy. We wrote the very first marketing plan for streaming music on the Internet for Liquid Audio, and developed some of their early user interfaces for online audio players and editors.
Digital Cowboys were there in the very beginning of the digital music revolution and helped Liquid Audio get started, raise money, and eventually to go public with an over $500 million dollar valuation.
Tastemate is a startup developing geosocial mobile platforms for live events. The first product is the Tastemate Mobile Merch Table providing social commerce for concerts and sporting events. Entertainers, teams, managers and merchandisers all benefit from Tastemate by connecting with a community of fans passionate about their brands and interacting with them to sell more. Tastemate engages the audience through contests, integrated conversations and social commerce and delivers valuable data that helps marketers better understand their fanbase, guide strategic decision making, and increase revenue per fan.
Digital Cowboys has been advising the company since its inception and has invested in the business and secured seed capital for the startup. A business plan was developed, the initial product design complete and the company is in the process of field testing and gathering customer feedback. As a result of our efforts, Tastemate is now in the process of being acquired by another company.
Nettwerk is Canada’s leading privately owned record label and artist management company. Nettwerk has been responsible for managing some of Canada’s biggest artists like Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies and many others.
The project was to advise the Nettwerk Management team on trends and opportunities in the music industry and how they could take advantage of these trends and new business strategies to better position their artists and their company in the future of music.
The result of the project was a clearer understanding of where the industry was heading and how to apply new strategies to turn one of the best-run independent music companies into a better one.
Nettwerk’s artist managers spend a lot of time positioning their artists and finding new and innovative ways to develop their audiences and make money. Digital Cowboys focused on the realities of the digital music marketplace and recommended new approaches to marketing and distribution for Nettwerk.
New drivers for music and music discovery were identified as well as methods of leveraging file sharing to increase awareness and development of alternative income streams for artists and writers.
Sony BMG Music Entertainment was a recorded music company, which was a 50–50 joint venture between the Sony Corporation of America and Bertelsmann AG. SONY BMG was home of many successful labels including Arista Records, Columbia Records, Epic, Jive, and RCA. Artists include Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, and Carlos Santana.
The projects were to develop Enhanced CDs and Interactive DVDs for SONY and BMG artists. Digital Cowboys produced some of the first Interactive CDs and DVDs including a variety of samplers, and the titles ”Solstice” and “George Winston” for Windham Hill and ”Yanni Live at the Acropolis” for BMG Music.
“Digital Cowboys gave us a lot of valuable advice across several projects, and we have enjoyed a good relationship with Mr. Kusek for many years. I know that Digital Cowboys will continue to play an important role in the intersection of music and technology.“ Ikutaro Kakehashi – Chairman, Roland Corporation
Roland Corporation is one of the top 10 global music products companies producing tools for use in recording studios, broadcasting companies, theaters, schools, public facilities and anywhere music is created. Roland makes some of the leading electronic musical instruments including synthesizers, guitar products, electronic percussion kits and audio processing devices. Roland brands include Boss, Rodgers, Edirol, VS, V-Drums, Juno, Gaia and others.
The project was to identify and acquire a distribution company in the U.S. that could deliver digital music products to computer and music retailers to support Roland’s Edirol brand.
Digital Cowboys researched the market and identified several companies that matched the target profile.
After discussions, the partners successfully negotiated a multi-million dollar transaction with Thinkware, the leading computer music distributor in North America.
Thinkware was acquired by Roland and became part of their distribution network for digital products.
Boston Acoustics, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets high-performance audio systems for home audio/video systems, after-market and OEM automotive systems, and custom-installations.
The project was to develop and expand the market for desktop audio and develop new products and a direct marketing channel for Boston Acoustics. This was Boston’s initial entry into the multimedia marketplace and the Cowboys created a plan and developed an ecommmerce enabled web platform for the company.
The partners created a “Personal Desktop Audio” category as the primary positioning for the new product line and lined up strategic partners including Gateway Computers and other vendors for the new business unit. The line was launched with great success generating tens of millions in revenue for the company. Subsequently Boston Acoustics was acquired by D&M Holdings.