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Seattle Startup RockStar Motel Turns Music Lovers into Band Reps

The website takes on the music industry, starting today.

By Seth Sommerfeld May 22, 2012

Luca Sacchetti hates the music industry. Or more to the point, he hates the way it operates. Rather than just moan about it, the Seattle resident has spent almost seven years planning and creating a new media platform—RockStar Motel—that went live today.

The idea behind RockStar Motel is to create a tastemakers’ network. The website (rockstarmotel.com) is a sleek, organized way for fans to share their favorite bands and basically act as a group’s grassroots PR team. "The site revolves around empowerment of the artist and empowerment of the fan," Sacchetti told us at a press launch yesterday. "It’s demarketization of the music industry."

So how does it work? Imagine a user named Seth. Seth loves Damien Jurado and Lemolo, and decides to “sign” each artist to his roster. He can start promoting the artists by sending out a promo pack—a customizable press kit of song clips, videos, and photos along with a personal write-up of the artist—and then monitor his reach through the "network effect," a spiderweb graphic showing the promo pack’s influence. If someone opens the pack, becomes a fan, or signs the same artist, Seth receives "rep" points; the more points he has, the higher Seth goes on the charts that rank reps regionally and overall. Points will eventually be used to redeem actual goods (though the people at RockStar Motel is being tight lipped as to what that will entail). Get it?

It’s not a one-way street either. The artists can also create their own pages for free—just like making a Facebook profile—and find out exactly who’s promoting them. The website strives for a global reach, so artists can sign up anywhere. They can also message anyone on the site directly. Say Lemolo needed more attention in Washington, and Seth was rising in the rep ranks. The female songwriting duo could reach out to Seth and ask for help promoting its next show. Bands can also set up competitions to reward the fans who rep them the best. To make sure RockStar Motel avoids a "white collar" industry feel, Sacchetti plans to partner with 10 Seattle artists by giving them partial stake in the company. He has some acts in mind, but no contracts have been finalized.

RockStar Motel lives and dies based on its fans. How committed are music lovers to promoting their favorite acts? Will they find tastemaking rewarding, or a waste of time? Sacchetti ultimately hopes the site will help foster prolonged careers for artists who might otherwise be ignored by the current label system. "The No. 1 problem with the music industry is it doesn’t give artists a chance to develop. It’s the same as developing your child; it’s something that needs to be nurtured."

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