Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meeting PlusFourSix

Back in August I met with some people at a company called PlusFourSix. These are the guys that handle all licenses for Spotify. The meeting was coordinated by my good friends at MuchDifferent and even though the agenda was not mainly about Stoffi I was asked to come along and do a short demo about my upcoming release with YouTube support.

Initially I was unsure what exactly the meeting was going to be about. I was unsure about my role and how much these people actually knew about Stoffi. The meeting was set up by former Nokia music manager Åsa Carild and the CEO of MuchDifferent and close friend of mine Christian Lönnholm.

I had many questions: what did PlusFourSix do? How much did they know about Stoffi? What was the meeting going to be about?

I got one answer: It turned out that PlusFourSix had no idea what Stoffi was. I was supposed to introduce these people to the project. For the answer to the rest of my questions I'd have to wait.

When we arrived at the headquarters of PlusFourSix we met up with two people: their CEO and a technical manager. We all introduced ourselves, the two gentlemen explained that PlusFourSix has made a business out of collecting all licenses from different music labels and selling them. As Spotify grew the managing of licenses and rights to their music became more complex. So Spotify turned to PlusFourSix.

The rest of the meeting was very informal and mostly focused on network infrastructure - an area that MuchDifferent is really good at. I felt like I had no real place at those discussions. I was also unsure what exactly I could expect - or even wanted - from these people. Was I suppoed to be going for a deal? What could these people offer me?

Our Shang version was in alpha and had a somewhat stable YouTube playback. During the development of the YouTube support I had decided to drop the immediate plans on adding support for Spotify; I had no need for it. Sitting there at the meeting I realized that the only feature these people would be able to offer me was some ability to let my users buy (with money or ad exposure) music (either as files or streams). But why would my users want to pay money, or see ads, to listen to music that I am already giving them for free via YouTube? I didn't see a need for any of this.

Then the meeting shifted focus and the attention was on me. I was supposed to demo Stoffi. Earlier in the meeting someone had said that the business model of their company was fine as long as no one came and offered what Spotify had - but for free. So being a little snarky I started my presentation with the comment "You mentioned something about a free clone of Spotify earlier and that is exactly what I have here". I put on a big smile and showed Stoffi. I quickly searched for some YouTube music inside Stoffi, added it to a playlist, queued some tracks and quickly showed them the rest of the interface. Then I paused and looked at them, awaiting some response.

Not a word. I looked at them. They looked at the screen. I tried to read their faces but I couldn't tell if they didn't understand or just wasn't impressed. I was hoping for the latter.

All I got was some nods and "uh hum"s. Then the CEO's cellphone rang. He excused himself and left the room. The technical manager moved his eyes away from my screen and started to talk about the network infrastructure again.

Nothing more was said about Stoffi. On our way out we went into the office of the CEO and said goodbye. He expressed his hope to continue talking with MuchDifferent about the network infrastructure.

That was it.