Jed Carlson
Duke University Fuqua School of Business isn't a completely new idea. It's an online music-marketing platform that allows artists, managers, record labels, and venues to build profiles and connect with one another, much like MySpace. But according to founder Jed Carlson, ReverbNation is more intuitive, interactive, and a lot more helpful for independent artists than other sites that offer a similar product.

The site, which was launched on Halloween 2006, covers new territory for musicians, Carlson says, such as social media marketing, fan behavior measurement, and sentiment tracking. "We focus on the independent music industry and provide one central site for the community to collaborate and communicate," he says. Currently that community includes more than 950,000 bands, venues, record labels, and managers as members and is expected to exceed 1 million by December.

Carlson developed ReverbNation while earning his MBA at Duke. His Business Plan Writing class was especially helpful. The professor was a local venture capitalist and passed along Carlson's business plan to contacts in the music industry for comments. "More than anything, business school gave me the confidence to pitch [my idea] to potential partners and investors," Carlson says. "I knew the key questions that had to be answered and had the time and knowledge to prepare for them."

The site operates on a "freemium" model, where most services are free for members to use. Once a band has developed a core fan base using the free services, it has the opportunity to pay a fee for more tools that can engage those fans.

The initial funding -- $2 million in July 2006 -- was raised through venture capitalists, and the company now has 20 employees. Last month ReverbNation partnered with production music library APM Music to launch ReverbNation Music, an exclusive platform offering independent music for license to producers of television, film, and video games. -- Sommer Saadi, posted Oct. 18, 2010 

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