Social media meets the music industry - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Social media meets the music industry

By Jeff Angileri - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- At a time when many business are downsizing, going thru bankruptcy, or even closing their doors -- some Wisconsin companies are holding their own, and changing the way their respective industries do business.

These so-called "second stage" companies were in the spotlight Tuesday night.

For the first time ever, state and business leaders got together at Monona Terrace in Madison to recognize the top thirty "Companies to Watch."

These companies are strong, innovative, and showing strength in a recession.

"They could be in genetics, Internet technology, manufacturing -- but they're doing it different than their competition," said Gayle Kugler, small business development director with UW Extension. "They're creating synergies with vendors and customers."

Organizers say these companies have great potential to add jobs in the near future. Half of the businesses on the list are based in the Madison area.

One of those businesses is web-based

Some say it's revolutionizing the music industry.

The west side company started out eleven years ago as a place for independent musicians to get noticed.

Since then, it's become a world-wide web community.

Big guitars, smart lyrics, and sense of humor -- that's the way Mike Huberty describes his band, Sunspot.

"Kind of like Cheap Trick meets Green Day," he said.

When the Madison-based band needed help getting noticed, they chose

"Our mission is simply to help musicians sell their music," says CEO Roy Elkins.

Sixteen employees work at the west side headquarters. Their job -- maintain a vast music web site, a place for up-and-coming bands to sell their music, post lyrics, pictures, and videos, and communicate with fans via a sophisticated social network.

"Fans enjoy direct contact with the bands, following bands, rating bands, and providing direct feedback," said Jeff Muendel, director of marketing.

The musical synergy is catching on. Employees say it's even changing the musical culture.

Broadjam has more than 100,000 members now in about 190 countries.

"When I see members from China and Iraq -- places you never think would submit songs -- it's pretty amazing," Elkins said.

With 500,000 songs uploaded, Elkins says the business plan seems to be working.

Several artists' songs were recently in the Fox TV drama Bones, and the film "The Bounty Hunter," starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler.

Sunspot is about to get a lot more exposure, too, as the band embarks on a 21-city tour across America.

"It helps you get access in ways 10 or 20 years ago were impossible," Huberty said. "They're helping to create the future of music, and it's awesome and their doing it right here."

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