Friday, April 13, 2007
Interview with Marc Cubas, MusicPlusTV
Marc Cubas is founder and CEO of MusicPlusTV (www.musicplustv.com), a Los Angeles firm that develops live programming for the Internet. MusicPlusTV provides live streaming of music and bands, along with archived video content. The firm has received venture funding from Kenai Investment, along with significant funding from Cubas himself. Ben Kuo spoke with Marc.
Marc Cubas: Music Plus Television Network is a new media company. How we've been operating for the last three and a half years is basically broadcasting live programming globally. We also supply individuals and business entities with the ability to create their own channels, broadcasting their own live programming.
How did you decide do start the company, and what's the story behind the firm?
Marc Cubas: About four years ago, I was here in LA, and wanted to create a half hour show. I'm not from the industry--I was a mortgage banker, and a real estate developer, and still am--and I was trying to figure out how to do that. Something that caught my attention at the time was the there was not any competition like MTV Networks on the Internet. There is lots of content in Hollywood that was not being captured, including lots of independent artists, and even major artists that weren't being pushed. We started aggregating the content, went out on the scene, got content and archived it, and as the technology grew we figured out we had a massive catalog of content to launch a television network--hence MusicPlusTV.com. Since we launched our live stream, we have captured over 10,000 bands, never charging a dime to them--but how it has paid back is we have been given brand recognition similar to MTV has. That's where the company began, by capturing content no one else wanted. Media companies don't want to invest money on something that doesn't make them money, and they don't want to develop artists without traction. What we do is allow people to get traction and show that to the studios--we have the analytics on how many page view they have had, and how often your content has been distributed to sites like YouTube, Veoh, Myspace, whatever.
So you also post content for people to other sites?
Marc Cubas: Yes. We post the content to YouTube, MySpace, and hundreds of other viral sites. However, what makes us different, is we're also a post-production facility, with 40,000 square feet, a post production building, and administrative offices. We're pretty self contained.
Your background in real estate is quite different from MusicPlusTV?
Marc Cubas: It's the same thing. In LA, I own about 43 properties, from houses, to commercial buildings, to restaurants. I also own five other companies. I've always been fascinated by real estate. This is just another form of real estate. I can buy a $5M apartment building and earn $200,000 in rent, or I can create different business entities and get rent from them from advertisers and sponsors. It's just property, another version of real estate.
How big is the company and team?
Marc Cubas: We have 25 employees, wearing numerous hats. I've very proud of the team, which from my co-founder Dennis Tzeng to the development team was handpicked by me--because of their passion and drive, their ability to multitask, and think in many aspects. It's more than just going to work and collecting a check. After seeing their abilities we have developed every single person to who they are today. We may not get the YouTube and MySpace press, but for our users we empower who they are. We make a system that isn't just upload your video and let me get rich--what people want is to be their own network. We're not just a video demand system, we're a portal to empower them to do it. The whole vision since I started working is to create jobs and develop people.
How do you monetize the site?
Marc Cubas: We have been monetizing from sponsorships and production of different content. You can go to Urb.com, and they are using all of our programming--our original shows, and live coverage. There are a lot of people out there who are music producers, and we have artists who have paid us to do music videos for them, and educate them on the digital media space. Having a MySpace account is not enough, and you can get lost in the system. We give them simple techniques on how to distribute your content and become a player, and get your face in front of the people you have to be in front of. The market is not passive, you have to be active.
Where's the service go from here?
Marc Cubas: We're talking to fifteen publications, and thirty labels, and are creating different channels for people. We're also talking with large movie studios--if you look at it, there are lots of movies that never have a theatrical or even DVD release, and we are looking at a way to get that out there. Simply just having something uploaded onto YouTube is not good enough. You have to have a portal, a channel like HBO or Showtime. We're always streaming, so that someone wants to come back to our site. Everything now seems web based, but in the next two and a half years you should be able to buy a set top box and see our live channel and get them at your house, with no need for DirecTV or Echostar for distribution. You have already created distribution for yourself, which is very powerful. MusicPlusTV is a new era of media.
Marc Cubas: One last thing. I have tons of investors calling right now. I funded the project myself, and I took on a small investment last November from Kenai Investment--really awesome people who are also into the real estate market. A lot of venture capitalists and investors ask us--are you the next MySpace, or next YouTube? We're not. We're doing something complete different. I build companies for monetization, and to make money--not to just sell them off. In the future, we might have an exit strategy to sell, but we'll sell only once it's marching along and it's unstoppable.