How does a 26-year-old go from booking bands to raking in millions in less than a year? If you ask J Sider, it’s simple supply and demand. As the founding father of RootMusic, Sider envisioned and developed Facebook’s Band Page application, a one-stop shop for musicians looking to publicize, promote, and market themselves on the Web. Since launching at South by Southwest in April of 2010, Band Page’s popularity has skyrocketed, and it now holds the title for most-used Facebook music app.
A musician and former band dude himself, Sider’s worked in and around the music biz for years, first booking bands for a small coffee shop in his hometown of Virginia, then working his way up the ladder to manage a 4,000-capacity venue in Salt Lake City.
“I got a really good understanding about what the practical day-to-day needs of musicians are,” Sider said recently, via phone from his Bay Area office. “And when I looked at the tools online for bands to organize their presence and get in touch with their fan base and really be effective, I didn’t see any. But then I looked over at companies like Google and Apple. When Apple came out with the iPod, they took all of my CDs and basically put them in the palm of my hand. And I thought, if that technology’s possible to build, we can do anything.”
Over the course of six years, Sider brainstormed and sketched a program that he felt would fill the void, and when the time was right, packed his bags and moved to San Francisco to find his dream team of engineers. “I lived on a couch and, for a number of months, just went out to all the different music tech meet-ups and conferences,” he recalled. Today, roughly 20 people make up the RootMusic staff, and, as Sider puts it, “It’s growing fast. … It’s been a really steady growth. We set up this company to make the types of products that Apple and Google and Zappos make, which is exactly what the user wants, and nothing less than that.”
As for the future of Band Page — and the online music movement in general — Sider also has his sights set high. “There’s a lot of empowerment in new solutions, and they’re going to be coming from musicians and managers and labels — it’s across the spectrum. But more and more musicians are going to be able to take on their careers and have tools that really actually work for them. Moving forward, I think we’ll see a much more effective and healthier ecosystem in the music community because of it.”
J Sider speaks at the Canary Hotel on Saturday, November 5, at 2:45 p.m., as part of the New Noise Music Conference and Festival. Visit newnoisesb.com for info.