Posts Tagged ‘music’


It’s that time of year again: spring cleaning, summer planning, and you can finally feel the heat of the sun on your skin again. But most importantly, it’s the end of Miami Music Week, the undisputed leading electronic dance music event in the world.

During Miami Music Week, the top DJ’s, record producers, club owners, and fans from around the world flock to Miami, Florida for a week of sharing and listening to new electronic music. Topping off all of the festivities is the Ultra Music Festival, the greatest electronic dance music event of all-time.

I don’t usually write about events because the quality of specific events tends to be subjected to waves of pop-culture interest, but Ultra is different in my opinion. It’s unlike any event I’ve ever experienced.

I first heard of Ultra when I went shopping for computer speakers at a Best Buy in South Miami during the summer of 2010. The Best Buy rep asked if I had heard about this thing called Ultra – An all-night dance party on South Beach. I told him no, but I was immediately intrigued.

Throughout the next year my exposure to EDM increased and things started clicking when I stumbled onto Avicii’s set from Ultra in March 2011. There, on Ultra’s main stage, Avicii debuted “Levels”. Over the course of the next year Levels became a worldwide sensation and finally brought EDM into mainstream pop-culture.

Beginning in late 2011, everywhere from the frat house to the local coffee shop to H&M stores were playing Levels or a derivative of electronic music. This wave of interest had me hooked and I was all set to attend Ultra in March 2012. Unfortunately the timing didn’t work out because I was participating in the Y Combinator Winter 2012 funding cycle, and I ended up watching Ultra 2012 from my computer monitor.

However, the next year in 2013, I vowed to make all efforts to attend. It was well worth the wait.

What is Ultra like exactly?

Ultra is a three day dance party in Bayfront Park, Miami, Florida. Nearly 100,000 people attend during the weekend, including people from literally everywhere in the world. Koreans, Swedes, Italians, Brazilians, Bahamians, Australians, Germans, and many more take pride in their identity by wearing their country flag throughout. And the majority of attendees enjoy the festival from 5:00PM – 12AM each day.

The synths of electronica radiate throughout the park, originating from one of several stages setup in a theme park layout. Most Ultranauts are likely to spend a decent amount of time at the Main Stage where the headline acts perform, but most people are also frequently interweaving throughout the weekend to see their favorite sets.

Beyond the waves of euphoric house music, creative stage designs, costumes, and endless dancing, is the rave culture “PLUR”. Peace, love, unity, and respect. Tony Hsieh from Zappos talks a lot about this culture and its positive impact on his life and business. When you are at Ultra, most people are extremely friendly and respectful. It’s not uncommon for strangers to share light diffraction glasses, or for random people to talk to you about interesting things on their mind.

Don’t believe me?

My sister Megan posted this photo tonight from the plane she flew on from Newark to Miami. Already a great new experience, new friends, and the common bond is Ultra. Oh by the way, Ultra knows it too, they retweeted the photo:

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 5.25.07 PM

For three days, Ultra is community of people who are celebrating house music, friendship and happiness.

The great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said “The limits of your language are the limits of your world.” While I normally would agree with this statement, Ultra is not complicit. Ultra puts traditional language aside for a weekend and uses electronic music to open up the world.

P.S. here’s a great new track from 3lau who will be kicking off Ultra 2014:

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03 2014

Gathering Your Summer Beats

This post was inspired by the words of Nicki Minaj:

This one is for the boys with the boomin’ system
Top down, AC with the coolin’ system
When he come up in the club, he be blazin’ up

If you’re like most 18 year-olds anticipating an adventurous summer after graduating from high school just days ago, then you’re probably in search of fresh new tracks to heighten the mood of your summer escapades. Leave the dirty work to a number of music blogs and file hosts that aggregate the most popular recently released tracks. The real fun music exploration lies in the curation of your own playlists. Quite a few new music sites have gained significant traction and have become my source for new music in the past year. pioneered the crowd-sourced playlist strategy in 2010, and now they simply assemble playlists from made mostly by college students. Personally, I’d rather use the crowd-sourced mixtapes as inspiration for my own playlists.

To describe the best part of music playlist curation, I’d like to borrow a quote from Tom Preston-Werner, founder of GitHub:

I could craft it however I pleased, and there was nobody telling me what to do. This feeling of control and ownership of something you own is intoxicating.

Yes, believe it or not, the feeling of having your own perfectly relevant playlist can possibly prompt you to hit the loop button many more times.

Here are a few services that I frequent in search of new music:

SoundCloud has the best music player on the internet, period. (Thanks in part to their $10m in funding from Union Square Ventures.) The music consumption experience is better on SoundCloud than anywhere else on the web. You can play, download, and share the track all in the same spot. Take a look yourself and play a track by one of the users that I check for updates regularly, FreshOnCampus.
Till The World Ends (Mixin Marc & Tony Svejda Midwest Mix) by Fresh On Campus is the most routinely updated music blog that I know of, and it often rakes in a lot of the best new music and remixes on a daily basis. My experience on the site can be summed up into the two playlists on the top right of the screen: Top New Tracks and Bangers. Visit each of these playlists often for easy to find ear candy.

Finally the last gig on the music discovery tour is From my previous experience on the site, they prefer to have quality music over quantity. They seem to be a bit more conscientious about what content is being added to their blog, which will make it perfect for you if you just want to quickly grab a new song.

Perhaps one day Spotify will finalize their negotiations with the US record labels and we will never have problems with music access ever again. Until then… get rolling with your new mixtape on that boomin’ system!


06 2011 Aims To Leverage Music Videos

Ever since the temporary downfall of (once home of the most popular and meticulously crafted playlists), the loyal users who streamed their music from the FratMusic have sought to fill the void by seeking out a site that offers similar playlists. The most important connection FratMusic had with their users is that the playlists were picked by hand and altered according to music genre, giving them a leg up on the computer generated services such as Pandora, iTunes Genius, Last.FM, etc. In fact, FratMusic’s short but overwhelming success and popularity is a prime example of the business term known as “Market Fragmentation”. FratMusic has grown the new emerging market for party playlists and as a result of the demand for their service, an increase in new suppliers have entered in this new fragment of the online music industry.

For the party music lovers out there, breathe a sigh of relief. gives former FratMusic users good reason to turn up their speakers again. In the words of founder:

Fratmusic is down, MTV is too busy playing re-runs of Jersey Shore, and Youtube is drowning in ads. What ever happened to good music, new singles, and good old MUSIC VIDEOS?
Started by a group of music lovers and DJs, is bringing back music videos through instantly streaming video playlists. We scour the internet bringing our viewers not only updated music playlists, but the great videos that go along with them.
Whether people are looking to stream videos at parties, keep up to date with newly released videos, or simply looking for a good playlist – we are the place.

After the VPlaylist initially reached out to me about the newly launched site, I decided to do my own investigation. The clean and simple UI is easy to use and easy to navigate, and often emphasizes the various sharing tools which will help in the site’s organic word of mouth growth. Also, the playlist genres appeal to almost any mood and are easily accessible. My personal taste is most impressed with the lineup put together on the Mash-Ups & Mixes playlist, although this one does not offer the video component.

VPlaylist agreed to do an interview regarding the status of their launch. They are currently moving quickly with hopes of earning a chunk of this niche market.

Describe the “a-Ha” moment when you decided to go ahead and build a party playlist site.

When my friends and I throw parties, we like to play music videos on the bigscreen or project them on the wall.  People have starting to the equivalent of “cloud computing” with their music, they stream it online.  People are always looking for the newest party song, if they don’t know about it they can’t buy it, download it, stream it, etc.. I felt like I hadn’t seen a actually music video on MTV in ages.  All these combined to create the a-ha moment that there was a need for

Why did you decide to include not only music, but music videos?

I have always been a huge fan of music videos.  I was very disappointed to see all these sites popping up with decent music, but no music videos.  They add a story to the music.

What was the biggest hurdle when building VPlaylist?

Quality music and videos.  Anyone can have a good site, good idea.  But for users its all about the music.  We tap into our network of music lovers and DJs for the best songs.

How is VPlaylist dealing with licensing and other legal issues that plague the music industry?

Our plan is to grow into a legal business that does not pirate music.  We have created a business model that will generate revenue to cover the cost of royalties paid to all the music organizations and studios.

Why is VPlaylist better than other social music sharing sites such as GrooveShark, Rdio,, etc.?

Videos, Videos, Videos.  But besides that, our product offers great playlists.  The problem with Youtube, Grooveshark,, is that you often need to know a song to put in on our playlist.  Further more, many of the songs suggested are older.  We stay ahead with the newest music videos.  If its more than 3-4 months old, its too old for us.

What has been the largest growth contributer to VPlaylist? (or which do you expect to be)

People just like you.  If you think we have a good product, people start sharing.

Great! What’s the plan for the future of VPlaylist?

To develop a loyal user base that loves the content we provide.

Which tracks should we be rockin’ to this summer?

Bad music selection is no longer an excuse, checkout the video playlist collection at


07 2010

College Parties Tune Into Crowd-sourced Playlists

Now in the final weeks of the Spring semester for most colleges and universities, the party life has been livened up a bit with the rising popularity of the new playlist sharing site, College students on campus’s throughout the country have embraced the resource, a live melting pot of party playlists that lets users vote which playlist they think is “hot”. Since the site took off, anyone looking to get up to date with todays hit party music has been able to instantly stream the music through a widget by placed on the FratMusic site. Growth growth in 2010 according to Google Trends

MixPod is an already established playlist sharing site, but this niche implementation of their widget is the most popular that I’ve seen anywhere. This certainly makes sense considering that all college students need to be connected to the internet today, and browsing the web with a hot playlist has made listening to music via the internet even better. Each day there are new playlists added to the site, from just about every type of institution that you can think of, and the new playlists are voted on, with the most popular playlists making it to the homepage.

FratMusic functions seamlessly and this has helped  keep their user numbers growing steadily. The music stream is very reliable with no interruptions and each playlist is categorized so that finding a hot playlist is always easy to find. To add to the site’s growth, each page has a Facebook “Share” button that allows anyone to instantly share a playlist with friends on Facebook. Overall, FratMusic is the product of great collaboration between the web apps of MixPod and Facebook, and the power of crowd-sourcing via college students. I hope you enjoy this site, it has enormous potential.


04 2010