Tech start-up of the week:

15 Apr 2012

Gregory Donaghy, founder of Photo credit: Jonny Pardoe Photography

This week’s tech start-up to watch is iMusician.Org, a new website that’s aiming to reach out to unsigned and independent label musicians, giving them a platform to be seen and heard. The site has just launched in beta mode.

Gregory Donaghy is the founder of iMusician.Org, which he has bootstrapped himself. The site has been set up to look for new music, to encourage others to share their discoveries on the website, and to give people a platform to submit media reviews on new bands and artists they come upon.

Donaghy, who has a background in security management, also runs a web development and media service business called Global Media Garden.

Future Human

He says that the idea first struck him for the site while he was filming a local Battle of the Bands competition in Bray last year.

“To be honest, I was filming it as a favour and didn’t expect to be filming anything extraordinary. I was very wrong,” says Donaghy. “I witnessed teenage musicians produce shear excellence. The large majority of material played from the eight or so bands was original material and the standard of professionalism shown by each band and artist shocked me. Wicklow band Children of The Son went on to win. Right now they are hot news here in Ireland,” he says.

Having grown up being exposed to the Irish music scene in the Seventies and the Eighties, Donaghy said the talent he encountered the night of The Battle of the Bands compelled him to start the site from there.

So iMusician.Org launched in hidden alpha about seven weeks ago and, according to Donaghy, the response has been great so far, with many artists and musicians already having heard about the site through the internet grapevine.

He says that the aim is to glean the attention of musicians in both Ireland and the UK this year, before then reaching out to unsigned musicians all over the world down the line. “Our aim is to have 85pc of the posts accompanied by rich media, be it video or audio.”

Site tweaking

Over the past few months he has been tweaking the structure of the site and deciding on the interview style formats as well as testing out the video and audio formats that iMusician.Org will take.

“We will continue to test the formats throughout the beta period,” he says.

During the beta phase, Donaghy says the large majority of reviews (around three per week to start) will originate in Ireland and the UK, but he anticipates that there will be regular reviews coming from the US, Canada and Australia.

“There is even one coming from Brazil in a matter of days,” he says.

New to the scene

But just how is iMusician.Org going to vie to be a game-changer for unsigned and Indie label musicians?

“There are many different outlets for unsigned and independent label artists on the internet, perhaps too many,” asserts Donaghy. “Between platforms such Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube and Bandcamp, there are many places for people to find original and new music, but it can be time consuming to do so.

“We will actively seek to engage with artists that we have selected, and feature them on the site and our upcoming digital publications,” he explains.

Global interest

And, while Ireland and the UK are the immediate focal points, Donaghy says iMusician.Org is already getting international interest from musicians in both North America and Australia.

Donaghy says that he is also collaborating with others on the site.

“In LA we will be working closely a filmmaker who will spearhead content creation for the US west coast. We are also talking with someone based in New York for bands on the east coast. There are also several companies involved in providing advice in different areas,” he says.

And Donaghy is planning a full launch of the site in January 2013.

“Between now and then we will slowly start to introduce the different services, starting with the magazine in user testing for July and August and multi-platform mobile feed apps before the end of the year. We will also start working on creating content and developing a working format for internet TV.”

So have there been any challenges to setting up the site? There’s been nothing major as of yet, he says. “The biggest challenge we perceive at present will be to deliver quality with quantity, but judging by the quality of the artists getting in contact with us that shouldn’t bee too difficult.”

And finally, Donaghy’s insights for other tech self-starters out there right now?

“Tell everybody what your doing, and how. Surround yourself with positive, proactive people. Avoid time wasters and anyone with a negative bone. Focus, plan everything, but, mostly, just do it,” he adds.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic