Smule CEO Jeff Smith Is Weirdly Optimistic About The Music Industry


“I think this is one of the most exciting times to be in the music business.”

That’s not a sentiment I hear very often, but it’s what Smule CEO Jeff Smith told me this week. You could, I suppose, classify this as typical startup bluster — After all, Smith and I were talking about the success that Smule has been seeing with social music apps like Sing! Karaoke. (He said the company saw $40 million in sales last year, compared to $21 million in 2013. It now has 350,000 paying subscribers from a monthly active user base of 21 million.)

But Smith also made a larger point about the music industry. While it’s easy to blame the record industry’s decline on piracy and the transition to digital, he suggested that there’s another culprit: “Really, I think the bigger issue for the music industry is that they never controlled their distribution to the customer.” Among other…

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