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Ferndale's Livio plans to cash in on Internet radio

Internet surfers are increasingly jamming out to online radio stations like Pandora these days. Ferndale-based Livio wants this to continue, but also wants to free listeners from their computers.

The start-up just released an independent Internet radio for Pandora fans. The small box, about the size of a toaster, uses Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection to tune into Pandora. That way users can enjoy commercial-free music without the ball-and-chain of a laptop or desktop computer.

"There is no AM or FM dial," says Greg Kim, sales and marketing manager for Livio. "It works completely off of wireless Internet."

The radios sells for $150 a pop. The guys at Livio think this market, with 69 million listeners and counting, has a lot of room to grow.

"We see ourselves taking off and doing well, especially with the ups and downs of satellite radio," Kim says.

When that happens it will mean growth for Livio's payroll. Right now the start-up employs 10 people and hopes to add more later this year. Staff will be on display June 12 at the official Livio Launch Party at D’Amatos, 222 S. Sherman St. in Royal Oak.

Source: Greg Kim, sales and marketing manager for Livio
Writer: Jon Zemke

Bongotones.com rings up new jobs in Royal Oak

A trio of recent college graduates is going all Silicon Valley on Metro Detroit with their new website, BongoTones.com.

Grads from the University of Michigan (David Pakhchanian and Nareg Sagherian) and the University of Toronto (Soheil Banifatemi) launched BongoTones last fall as an easier way for cell phone users to get more custom multimedia applications. They operate the company virtually, but are in the process of setting up a base in Royal Oak or even TechTown.

"We are inquiring about relocating closer to the city of Detroit, since most of the opportunities and our immediate connections are based there," Sagherian says.

The trio began the start-up as an easier way to get content to cell phones and to allow artists to build awareness of their work. Today its Beta platform delivers 15,000 user-generated ringtones with an easy search function. It also allows bands and musicians to convert their original music into ringtones.

All of this is available for free. The BongoTones trio is working with users, advertisers, and carriers to create revenue streams.

Source: Nareg Sagherian, co-founder of BongoTones
Writer: Jon Zemke

Ghostly International capitalizes on decade of growth in Ann Arbor

After a decade of successes, Ghostly International, the hipper-than-hip record label, continues to haunt the Ann Arbor's business scene.

Excerpt:

Ten years ago this August, the idea behind Ghostly International was only a dream for Sam Valenti, a dream that the University of Michigan student incubated in his dorm room in Couzens Hall.

Today it's an internationally recognized electronic and ambient music label that supplies paychecks for six employees, a handful of independent contractors, and numerous musical artists. It continues to grow, moving into places like retail stores and iPhone applications.

"We've tried to move with the times," Valenti says. "Obviously, the record industry was in tumult or recession before the country was."

Read the rest of the story here.

Paxahau spreads wings; 378 staffers for Movement techno festival

More than a bunch of concertgoers will be dancing away at Detroit's Movement festival later this month.

Excerpt:

Putting on one of North America’s top techno festivals isn't a one-man or even a one-company show. That's why Paxahau plans to employ 378 people to make this year’s Movement possible.

That number crosses a lot of lines, including 75 production and staffers, 100 security personnel, 80 bartenders and food vendors, 23 ticket takers/sellers and 100 artists/entourages. And then are the people who aren't really being paid, such as the 20 interns from Northwood University and 150 volunteers who will serve as everything from greeters to runners.

"Our goal by involving them (the interns) is they get acclimated to Detroit and involved," says James Canning, a spokesman for Movement.

Read the rest of the story here.

Local graphic artist takes reins of Movement '09

Movement is on the, well, you know, move this year now that it has picked a local brand designer.

Excerpt:

Derek Kuschel was named the brand designer for the Movement festival in a competition organizers held. The 27-year-old Ferndale resident beat out 134 other graphic designers and artists this year to win the opportunity to design the theme for this year's festival.

That means he's responsible for the overall visual aesthetic of the event, including festival advertising, t-shirts, banners and the web site. Kuschel also gets $5,000, VIP passes for friends/family, and festival gear.

Read the rest of the story here.

DEMF design contest winner to be unveiled tomorrow

Movement: Detroit Electronic Music Festival is starting to warm up in Detroit.

Excerpt:

This year's Movement: The Detroit Electronic Music Festival look will be released to the world Wednesday.

Paxahau and 323 East (the Ohm Creative Group guys) held a come-one-come-all competition this year to find some local talent to design the look of this year's festival. DEMF's fan voted for the top 10 contestants via Paxahau's web site. Here are the three runners-up.

Read the rest of the story here.

Wayne State’s Motown classes explore Detroit's impact on music

Wayne State University students are starting to understand just how big of an impact Detroit has had on art, music and pop culture around the world thanks to a new the Motown Global Learning Community.

The new program uses two English classes over one year to study everything from slam poetry to Motown to The White Stripes. Nationally and internationally known poets, songwriters and musicians pop into the classes.

Students tour through some of Detroit’s most famous neighborhoods to get a better idea of where the music came from. There is also an optional study abroad portion in southern Germany.

World-renowned poet and Wayne State Prof. M.L. Liebler is organizing the program. For information, click here.

Source: Wayne State University
Writer: Jon Zemke

Paxahau goes to the people to find brand designer for 2009 DEMF

Detroit's Paxahau is looking for a few good votes to see who will design this year's DEMF brand.

Excerpt:

Paxahau and 323 East have launched an online contest to find the brand designer for this year's Movement: The Detroit Electronic Music Festival.

"It really is in a lot of ways the people's festival," says Jason Huvaere, president and co-founder of Paxahau. "It's the fans that have kept it alive."

The winner will be responsible for the overall visual aesthetic of the event, including festival advertising, t-shirts, banners and the web site. They will also receive $5,000, a VIP chalet for family and friends at the festival and a gift bag with festival gear. The winner will be picked from the top 10 contestants, ranked by votes from the web site.

Read the rest of the story here.

U-M Dearborn Prof's book on gospel music makes notable books list

When people mention music in the Motor City, a number of images come to mind, ranging from Motown supergroups to sonic thrash of The White Stripes' garage rock to Eminem's fist-pumping hip-hop.

The white (or purple) robes of gospel aren't usually one of musical images associated with the Motor City, but it has been a underrated and all-too-important cog in Michigan's long-time thriving music scene. A new book by a University of Michigan-Dearborn professor dives into that genre and its impact both locally and nationally.

U-M Dearborn English Prof. Deborah Smith Pollard wrote "When the Church Becomes Your Party: Contemporary Gospel Music," which has been named one of this year’s 20 "Michigan Notable Books" by the Library of Michigan.

The book is a collection of essays on topics in gospel music, including praise and worship and the clothing worn by gospel artists. It made the Library of Michigan's annual list because of detail of the state's cultural heritage in gospel music. It's a subject Pollard is well acquainted with since she is the gospel music program on Detroit radio station WJLB-FM.

Source: University of Michigan-Dearborn
Writer: Jon Zemke

Paxahau goes from Detroit passion project to 8 employees

Paxahau is getting bigger and bigger and looks to become a big part of Detroit's Creative Corridor project.

Excerpt:

Just about everyone who has worked for Paxahau over the years has started out as a volunteer for it in one way or another.

The electronic music promotion company began as a passion project for techno enthusiasts inspired by the raves in Detroit in the early 1990s. Today it throws parties centered around electronic music in Detroit, including the city’s biggest techno bash -- Movement: The Detroit Electronic Music Festival.

This allows it to employ four full-time people, another four part-timers and a handful of interns (its last intern became its latest hire). And that’s during the downtime. Paxahau employs more than 20 people and another 200 volunteers during Movement.

Read the rest of the story here.

Saline's Wadia Digital breaks into iPod sector and creates jobs

iPods are all the rave and Saline's Wadia Digital is cashing in on the craze while making jobs in Saline.

Excerpt:

As the iPod dominates the music industry is it any surprise that a company like Saline's Wadia Digital is cashing in too? The high-end audio firm's newest product is the 170iTransport, a radio-like piece of hardware that plays music from iPods.

The product is only three months old but it's showing the most potential to help the company grow 30 percent in the last year. The firm has hired two people so far this year and expects to add another two by the end of the year.

Read the rest of the story here.

All Media Guide to be acquired by Macrovision, remain in Ann Arbor

California tech giant Macrovision has inked a deal to acquire Ann Arbor’s All Media Guide, but never fear – AMG is staying put, says Michael Buchheim, EVP of Macrovision’s Distribution and Commerce Business Unit.

All Media Guide is a Web-based mammoth database for all things movies, music or video games. In acquiring the company – for a reported $82 mill – Macrovision hopes to get a handle on something you might not have heard of: metadata.

Metadata is the newest marketing tool, the idea that what consumers want is access to a rich depth of data on purchases or potential purchases, like reviews, biographies, art and editorial accompaniment, according to a statement on the Macrovision Web site.

Buchheim wrote in an e-mail that in 2008 the company will unveil an implementation roadmap, adding that "Macrovision plans further invest in the growing part of the AMG business."

The deal is still subject to some review, but is expected to close by year’s end.

According to the company’s Web site, Macrovision provides distribution, commerce and consumption solutions for software, entertainment and information content to the home video, PC games, music, cable/satellite, consumer software, enterprise software and information publishing industries as well as middleware solutions to enable the development of connected devices.

Source: Michael Buchheim, Macrovision
Writer: Nancy Kaffer


Top-ranked music site, SoulTracks, to host first annual awards show in Detroit

Chris Rizik isn't content to just be one of the area's leading venture capitalists -- he recently launched a new fund, Ardesta I, with long-time collaborator Rick Snyder.

The lifelong music fan noticed a dearth of good on-line information about classic soul artists so, in 2003, he began building SoulTracks, a website that has since grown to house a stable of twelve writers. Considered to be the top soul music website in the nation, SoulTracks averages 100,000 visitors and 250,000 page views per month.

The site has since evolved to include coverage of active artists that are influenced by classic acts. "This music doesn't get much play on the radio or coverage in the mainstream press," says Rizik. "But it's a fast-growing movement, mostly with fans in their thirties and forties."

A couple of years ago, Rizik began asking readers to vote for their favorite artists and records. This year, that concept is taking the leap from a virtual format to a live one, with the inaugural Readers' Choice Awards to be held in Detroit on November 16.

The event will feature performances from seven finalists including Maysa and Kloud 9. It is being held in conjunction with the Urban Organic Festival, which adds more concerts as well as a film festival to the weekend roster. "This will give lots of people from outside Detroit more reasons to come to Detroit," says Rizik. "It's a great music town."

Rizik is already looking ahead to growing the event into an yearly happening. "We think there is a big appetite for this to be an annual thing," he says.

A limited number of tickets are available on-line at GrooveTickets.

Source: Chris Rizik, SoulTracks
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh

Leon Speakers moves to bigger A2 HQ, plans to add up to 35 employees

When Noah Kaplan and Jeff Gordon founded Leon Speakers in 1998, they had no idea that, not only would they make careers out of it, but said careers would be thriving.

Leon's niche is the design and manufacture of custom-built on-wall speakers for flat plasma screen televisions. What really sets them apart, however, is the invisibility of the speakers. Kaplan, who is the company's president, says, "We make each cabinet to exact size and color of any TV, in three to five days." That one-of-a-kind craftsmanship coupled with a quick turnaround gives their dealers around the country good reason to recommend Leon to their audiophile clients -- they are currently able to produce 3,000 to 5,000 custom boxes a year.

Leon speakers are so on the 'down low' that there is no logo identifying them. As for their sound, Kaplan describes it as "high fidelity, with clarity -- vocal clarity and directional clarity. It's like a speaker on steroids, it's night and day from what we're used to hearing coming out of television."

While the company typically built systems for high-end plasma TVs --they don't come with speakers-- they are also able to "do Leons" for those that do come with speakers built in.

Kaplan says the speakers are distributed through 500 dealers nationwide, with about 100 that he characterizes as "really super active." There are 18 Leon dealers in Michigan, including Paragon Sight and Sound in Ann Arbor and Audio Video Alternatives in Royal Oak.

Leon is in the process of moving from a 5,000-square foot building in Whitmore Lake to an 11,000-square foot one in Pittsfield Township. "We're more than doubling the joint," says Kaplan.

The expansion will also provide room for employee growth; the company plans to add 15 to 35 to its current roster of 15. Kaplan: "We're going to increase a lot craftsman and bring on interns in marketing and promotions, sound engineer guys and ramp up our manufacturing here in Ann Arbor."

The company chose to stay in Southeast Michigan for multiple reasons. Kaplan says, "Detroit is an amazing manufacturing city, with a ton of amazing machine shops and mills. The supply chain is amazing and the rents are far superior to any big major cities. We love the talent pool, with so many skilled people." He hopes for the move to be complete by the end of the month.

Source: Noah Kaplan, Leon Speakers

Writer: Kelli B. Kavanuagh



Royal Oak's Bellyache sells nostalgic candy & Detroit music to the world

The Bellyache Candyshoppe takes its candy seriously. Purveyors of still-made yet hard-to-find candies such as appleheads, NECCO wafers, Boston baked beans, cherry ZOTZ, candy cigarettes and Charleston chews, the on-line company based out of Royal Oak has found a sweet niche in their market, regularly selling out of their most popular products.

Bellyache was started in 2004 by Scott Hagen and Michelle Moore, true fans of novelty candy. They soon launched Bellyache Records as a companion business. Their first CD, Sweet Sounds of Detroit, was released in 2006 and sold out nearly its entire 1,000 copy run. It includes songs from local stalwarts SSM, The Sirens, Outrageous Cherry and The Hard Lessons.

Having already tasted success with its deluxe holiday candy packages, Bellyache will now take the obvious next step: combining the two arms of their company. They plan to release another compilation CD in October called Ghoul's Delight: A Monster Party Record and will offer a deluxe version of the  album that comes packaged with Halloween candy.

Next up are 45-RPM 7-inch singles from The Muldoons, The Dewtons and The Go, each of which will come with a candy bar made specially for the band. Hagen says, "Everything we put out on the label will come with something." He says their focus on vinyl records makes sense because, "The vinyl market is a very collectible market." Future planned releases also include a Gore Gore Girls single and a full-length CD from the Grande Nationals, a band for which Hagen plays bass.

Hagen says most of their orders come from out of state and that 75% are combination music-candy orders.

A future goal for Bellyache is the establishment of a bricks-and-mortar store. Hagen would like to locate "someplace with window-shopping -- and where there's kids." He says Ferndale and Berkley are possible locations and that the duo hopes to open the shop within the next year.

Source: Scott Hagen, The Bellyache Candyshoppe
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh
37 Music Articles | Page: | Show All
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