Founder of Seattle grunge label Sub Pop explains why he jacked it all in to launch a tech startup

No Comments 14 November 2016

Founder of Seattle grunge label Sub Pop explains why he jacked it all in to launch a tech startup

Bruce Pavitt is considered one of the founding fathers of the Seattle grunge scene.

The Sub Pop alternative music label he cofounded with business partner Jon Poneman in the late 1980s kickstarted the global success of bands including Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney.

But in 1996, a year after Sub Pop sold a 49% stake of the business to Warner Music Group, Pavitt had become “bored with the industry,” he told Business Insider at Web Summit in Lisbon earlier this week.

“I’m an entrepreneurial type; I’m a creative person. Typically, as businesses grow, by nature they have to become more bureaucratic and ruled by committee - and I don’t thrive in that type of environment,” Pavitt said.

“My background goes all the way back to the ‘80s, with fanzines, and supporting indie music with cassette demos. The decade of the ‘80s, that culture, a lot of the underground bands did not sell very much music, but that’s why it was interesting. You had Fugazi, Sonic Youth, and Nirvana in the 1980s and the personalities were pioneers, iconoclasts. They weren’t making money. They were doing art because they had to make art. To me that was - even though I was broke in the ‘80s - that was much more interesting,” he added.

“But post-‘Nevermind’ [Nirvana’s 1991 album, released by Sub Pop] you had big majors starting indie bands to make money. The music, and the dialog, and the interviews: the culture became safer. Sub Pop was more bureaucratic and the culture wasn’t more interesting. There was more money, but I feed off creative,” Pavitt said.

8Stem: A remixing app that pays the original artist
Now Pavitt works a five-person company that plugs his desire for creativity.

Founded in 2015 with Pavitt’s business partner Adam Farish, 8Stem is a free mobile app that lets users remix music tracks. Like a recording studio mixing console, the app breaks out the stems of each track - the guitar, drums, bass, and vocals, for example - and makes it easy to switch them around or add new effects without needing to have the expertise and expensive software of a studio engineer.

There are a number of music remixing apps on the market, but 8Stem differentiates itself with its monetization model. Remixers on the app can opt to have their masterpieces uploaded to Apple Music and Spotify. The original artist gets compensated when the remixes are streamed and 8Stem makes its money by taking a cut of that revenue.

By: Lara O’Reilly

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