Tech Coast Review
The startup and tech news weblog for Southern California

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

San Diego based mTracks, today received another 500k in funding from angel investors, making their total funding up to 1M. Not too shabby of a start without getting VCs involved. Though to be honest until I saw their press release, I hadn't heard of them. And looking at their traffic, not too many people have either.

So what is mtrack, well is basically a music social network, combined with a music storefront. Sort of like a combination of imeem and the itunes store. Its got all the usual groovy social features that meld well with music, as well as storefront that has a whole bunch of basically indie music. They don't have the major labels, but it doesn't seem like thats what they are going for.

They have quite a few things going for it, particularly a really really good interface. I also like that their music is all encoded in 192k DRM free mp3s (which would have been a huge thing a year ago, but is now becoming sort of a norm). Businesswise I also think they have a good thing going building a site that basically musicians can circumvent labels and in the long run self sell (ala cdbaby). This is definetly good for the artists, giving them more control financially as well as allow them to market better with the social network.

I did have some problems though, first the site was occasionally slow, though its hard to say if it was a basic hiccup on their end or a larger problem. The other thing was that although they say they have about 800,000 I (and I'm assuming most 'common' music listeners) weren't entirely familiar with much of the library. Thats cool, and part of the indie music discovery process, but a couple of things need to be tweaked a little to help people like me find my way. First, I really like that if you put in the name of a common band, if mTraks doesnt have the band, it will suggest similar sounding artists in the library. This is exactly what is needed, however my experience is that the suggestions weren't all that close. The premise is good, they just need to tweak the algorithm more. The other thing, is that while I don't mind 30 second clips on Itunes that much, I find that I have a feel for the band better, so its not much of a problem. Here, since I was discovering a lot of new bands for the first time, I really wanted to hear more of the song. Of course I realize a lot of that is up to the negotiations with labels and artists, but for indie stuff, 45 or 60 seconds would have been a lot more helpful.

Overall, though I really like the site, the question is just how to make it stand out. These guys need traffic in a serious way. They've done pretty well on the tech side and really now its a matter of figuring out how to standout in a very crowded space. This is no easy task, and I'm assuming thats in large part what this next chunk of funding will go towards. Maybe some kind of killer facebook or myspace app might do them some good.




Los Angeles based, Interent Brands (who we covered last when they went public) today bought a bunch more companies:

A quick browse of these sites shows that the all have strong niche traffic, though none are doing anything particularly interesting. This seems to continue to follow IBs strategy (or lack there of), of buying community driven sites with little technological innovation. While having a slick web 2.0 feel is not a prerequisite, I still wonder if IB is buying assets that ultimately are going to lose their community to cooler places. Maybe the intention is supposed to be that IB will bring the funding in, so these new acquisitions have some financial flexibility to grow, but frankly a look at IBs portfolio, just doesn't show that happening.


Sponsored Ads