A bootstrapped startup launched in 2008 by a music industry veteran, IndiMusic TV, based here, is taking advantage of the new television environment with new video-on-demand distribution deals in September 2015 on FiOS, DISH, and Amazon Fire, to go along with its existing VOD presence on Comcast, Roku and at http://indimusic.tv.
Collectively, the new deals put the music video service in more than 30 million U.S. households starting this September, to go along with the 190 countries its content is already viewed where Internet access is not restricted. The indimusic.tv website itself receives on a daily basis more than 150,000 visitors (5 million to 8 million a month on all platforms), 250,000 page views and 300,000 hits.
A Google search of “Independent Music Television” ranks IndiMusic TV No. 1, a status achieved organically, notes IndiMusic TV founder Chris Pati. He attributes his firm’s recent traction with major cable, satellite and over-the-top (OTT) players as a confirmation of his hunch back in 2004 that independent musicians’ videos needed a new platform to be viewed and appreciated by fans. Its current library exceeds 1,000 videos.
Well known artists the likes of Mötley Crüe to Dolly Parton to Sheila E. have launched their music videos on IndiMusic TV, which features genre-specific stream blocks for rock, indie rock, country, hip hop, and jazz. IndiMusic TV also offers a “Facebook” type social media aspect for fans to comment and interact with each other as well as the artists.
“In 2004 when I was producing videos for independent musicians, I saw there was nowhere to get them played,” explains Pati, whose 30-year music industry background includes recording, producing and arranging numerous charting records for such artists as Sheena Easton, Michael Damian and The Isley Bros., as well as performing with and alongside the likes of Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits, Josh Groban, Smokey Robinson, Bon Jovi and Peter Frampton.
IndiMusic TV was initially launched in 2004 out of Pati’s house (using green-screen) as a half-hour television program at 10 p.m. on Long Island, NY station WLNY, a CBS affiliate. It caught on with a younger demographic, registering a .8 or .9 Nielsen rating and regularly tying “Judge Judy.” He moved the show to 2 a.m., where ratings were even better (and time cheaper); local advertising made the shoe-string venture profitable. After three seasons leasing the time from WLNY, Pati proved the concept that viewers would watch videos; he played clips from more than 800 bands. It was time for him to seek distribution deals from traditional cable operators.
“They all offered revenue-sharing deals, and wanted $15 million to $20 million a year in exchange for a channel. I’d have to buy the slot,” says Pati, who had no interest in pursuing such an arrangement. He sensed television was already migrating to the Internet, and in 2009 he was among the first 20 Roku developers. Indimusic TV’s Roku channel has 21,000 subscribers.
As IndiMusic TV built up its online traffic, a cable operator offered Pati in October 2012 a channel deal for $200,000 a month, which he also rejected as not having enough upside. Pati responded rhetorically, “Why would pay all that money whenever I could broadcast all over the globe for next to nothing?” He later rejected an offer to pay $60,000 a month for 12 hours a day on a FiOS channel. (IndiMusic TV is launching in September on FiOS under a revenue-sharing arrangement.)
Soon thereafter, traditional cable started losing subscribers to OTT services like Roku, Hulu, and Netflix. “Content was migrating to the Internet,” he notes. “I figured television providers needed programming and would come to me. That’s what happened.”
Unlike other music video outlets, IndiMusic TV features an exclusive patented interactive technology called “Indi Power Link” developed with Linkstorm (http://www.linkstorm.net). When a video plays, an overlay mini window in the upper left corner of the screen presents five e-commerce, pull-down links without interrupting the stream, allowing musicians to directly sell CDs, downloads, merchandise and tickets. Artists keep 100 percent of the revenue.
Bands put up their first video for free (Pati admits 80 percent of the artists post only one video), and there’s a sliding scale up to $199 a year for labels to post an unlimited number of videos. About 40 to 50 labels subscribe to that tier.
In addition to music videos, the IndiMusic TV network programs other television shows, including the Grammy-winning “Private Sessions” music performance show produced by A&E, which no longer airs the series but currently licenses it to IndiMusic TV on an exclusive basis. “Private Sessions” host Lynn Hoffman, an Emmy-winning television personality, is also a former VH1 VJ. Hoffman hosts IndiMusic TV’s Top 21 program and performs weekly voiceovers. Joining Hoffman as a “Face of IndiMusic TV” is former Fuse VJ Juliya Chernetsky.
John Oates (of Hall & Oates) recently was featured on a “Private Session” show, and also taped an interview for the “Live It Up!” talk show that is among IndiMusic TV’s offerings and also recorded at IndiMusic TV’s 2,000 square-foot soundstage. In July 2014, the company moved into its new 4,500-foot facility, which also features a fully equipped recording studio.
A dedicated IndiMusic TV app is under development.
Investors are starting to take notice, and IndiMusic TV is poised to receive another cash infusion, still allowing Pati to maintain control of the company. “It was a slow burn to get where we’re at,” he admits. “Now we’re starting to see revenue. In this fickle broadcast environment, the only way is to stay in the game with a frugal model. It puts us in a powerful position regarding strategic alliances and investors.”
About IndiMusic TV
IndiMusic TV was founded in 2004, and launched as a half-hour TV show in the NY tri-state area on the independent TV Network WLNY-TV10/55. It garnered instant popularity as the place to launch, market and expose new indie music videos on traditional TV. After three successful seasons, IndiMusic TV broadened its horizons by launching www.indimusic.tv in September 2012, streaming 24/7 indie and unsigned music videos. It has a dedicated Roku channel, and its videos starting in September 2015 will be available on demand via FiOS, Comcast, DISH Network, and Amazon Fire.