Musicians ′sidelined′ in the digital age | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 23.01.2013
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Musicians 'sidelined' in the digital age

The Internet has long let musicians market themselves. But two young German entrepreneurs say artists are losing contact with their fans in the process. Their solution is called

Symbolbild Applaus. © G.Light -

Symbolbild Applaus

DW: What is

Tobias Schiwek: is the place where you get closer to your artist. We want to reactivate the relationship between the fan base and the artist because we believe there are two things happening with the Internet.

First, it's getting easier and easier to stay in contact with people that you like. On the other hand, it's getting so fragmented that it's really tough for a fan to stay connected to his artist or for an artist to stay connected to his fan base. And we think this is not only a paradox - but it's already the solution.

DW: Let's say I'm an artist. What can I find at

Tim Klama: First of all, you have a place where you can gather everything you have on the Internet, which is fragmented at different services - which are really good, like let's say Soundcloud, YouTube, and you have your Facebook account, of course. But everything is somewhere on the Internet and your fans have to search for your accounts. We gather everything in one place and keep it there for a long time. If you post something on Facebook as an artist, it gets lost on your timeline. We put everything you have in one place and keep it there so people can find it and get closer to you and experience your stuff.

DW: Why does the world need

Tobias Schiwek: We think that something got lost for artists on the way to the digital age. There are a lot of advantages [in the digital age]. You can discover bands that you never would have discovered before. Like Croatian Hip Hop. But on the other hand, it gets totally lost in the noise. So, how can I find those Croatian bands? is one way to do that. It's not only about discovery - it's about personally getting in touch with your artist.

Tim Klama (left) and Tobias Schiwek

Tim Klama (left) and Tobias Schiwek had a good idea - and went after it

Take Lady Gaga. She is, for me, the prototype of a modern artist. She's putting out a branded set of values through her music. She won't make much money just with music. She does that because she's a certain brand and people want to experience that brand. They feel like they know her life. Her management puts it like this: On Facebook, I'm friends with guys I went to school with. But as a Lady Gaga fan, I'm in a network with the guys that I would love to go to school with. And this is basically what will do.

DW: What are the biggest hurdles as an entrepreneur in Germany?

Tobias Schiwek: Sometimes people claim it's the governmental structure and the laws and taxes. But I don't believe that this is a bigger hurdle in Germany than in any other country. I believe that we have a little gap in the funding scene. In the area between let's say 300,000 euros and one million, there's a gap in Germany. And as a German company, there aren't enough exit channels [like going public] if you are a local hero.

On the US market, for example, it's only logical that you get a lot more money a lot more easily because there are more exit options. You have a huge market with the same language and the same culture. You have the exit through an IPO. You don't have that in Germany. I think it would be interesting to find a solution to get more exit options in Germany and to enrich the startup scene in terms of investors that spend in that [funding] gap - where you've found your proof of concept but you're in the process of leveraging it.

DW: What motives you to go to work everyday?

Tima Klama: We had this great idea. We saw some problems on the artists' side. You can read in the news everyday that artists have problems making money on the Net. Their revenue streams are shrinking and the digital age cannot compensate for everything. So we thought, we need something new. We wanted to help artists.

I myself was an artist. I played in a band for eight years. At one stage I had to give up the idea of being huge. So now I'm just a normal entrepreneur. But this is what motivates me. I want this place where the artists can get bigger on the Internet.

DW: What are the next steps for

Tobias Schiwek: We are going to launch in February this year. This will be the year of We want to totally enhance the experience and the user base. That means the interactions between the artist and the fan. The first aggregation of what we call the flipboard for entertainment. If there is something out there that is relevant regarding your relationship with your artist, then we will find it for you and share it in a very nice way.

We're starting in Germany, but we'll roll out very soon internationally. For us that means the US and UK in the first step. But people might understand enough English to join, even if they're from other places in the world.

DW: What are the differences between the German digital music market and other markets, like in the US and UK?

Tim Klama: On the US market, already more than 50 percent of the revenues of music sold come from the digital market. In Germany, it was about 18 percent last year. So it's lagging behind a bit. But we're not selling music digitally, we're trying to give information about the artist and sell the brand of the artist. And that's something we think is completely different.

Tobias Schiwek, 30, is CEO and Tim Klama, 27, is Chief Marketing Officer at

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