J Sider is up to something. “We are working some amazing deals today,” he says on the phone from San Francisco. He won’t give away what those deals entail for his company, RootMusic, but he does say that the details of them have put a smile on his face.
Though he grew up around Harrisonburg, VA, Sider’s chilled-out surfer-bro speak befits his now-home of San Francisco. He relocated to the tech-friendly West Coast city to launch RootMusic, a startup music venture that runs the Facebook application BandPage. BandPage allows artists to construct sleek-looking centerpieces on their Facebook pages where fans can do things like stream songs, view photos, and check out tour dates and Twitter feeds all in one place. The service, whose basic package is free, launched in 2010, and after little more than a year, it has been adopted by 200,000 bands reaching 30 million monthly active users. And to think, it all started for Sider, a musician and former band and venue manager, with a poster board and a dream.
What did you play when you were in bands?
I’m a singer and guitar player. Every once in a while I dabble with the piano, and I still do that. I’ve got a keyboard, a guitar and a mic at my room at my house.
How did you go from musician to coming up with the concept for RootMusic?
Well, we were using different tools online, and I looked at other industries and saw them—these other industries, especially Apple computers and Steve Jobs—where they took technology and basically did magic with what they came out with. You know, Steve took a thousand CDs and put it in the palm of my hand in an iPod. And I was like, well, if he can do that, then really the only thing limiting us from building anything is what you can come up with and the team you have to build it because really, code is just a big algorithm; it’s a math equation. And so once I figured that out, I started mocking up different designs of what it could be.
Did you always know you wanted to do some sort of Facebook kind of thing?
No, no. It was just more solutions for musicians online where we used to use Myspace, and I would look at the site and wish they would have had certain buttons on there that would easily allow me to capture or get email addresses for fans because in different ways, we needed them. I was looking for innovation that we didn’t see, and so I just kind of put together those different things that I wish would’ve been possible that weren’t and kind of put together the flow and literally drew out about 250 PowerPoint slides of how it would look and feel.