Troy Carter

Renowned music manager, investor, and CEO of Atom Factory

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 15, 2015

Discussion

Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
I'm Troy Carter, Founder of Atom Factory and Cross Culture Ventures. We live and breathe entertainment, technology, culture, and most of all, HUSTLE. We invest in artists and entrepreneurs. Our growing portfolio is over 75 startups including Uber, Lyft, Warby Parker, Spotify, Dropbox & Stance. Check out our platform SMASHD.co to learn more about tech, culture, and hustle.
Luanna Williams@ellewms · City Launcher & Growth Marketer
Hi Troy! Downloading disrupted music distribution; MySpace and YouTube empowered independent artists and changed how new acts were discovered; and Internet radio providers like Spotify are disrupting terrestrial radio. Where do you see the biggest opportunity for disruption in the music industry, particularly as it relates to traditional record label involvement given their oftentimes late involvement?
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Troy! Thanks for joining. What's one thing Silicon Valley doesn't get about Hollywood and vice versa?
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@eriktorenberg I think there are these stereotypes that Silicon Valley was full of pirates that don't respect content, and that Los Angeles was this litigious place that doesn't respect innovation. As we started getting past those stereotypes, we've seen tons of areas of innovation. Look at what HBO has become, Netflix, Spotify in partnership with the music labels, MCN's like Maker Studios & Machinima. These are all great examples of seamless partnerships between technology & content, and we're starting to speak the same language.
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@troycarterceo Thanks, Erik & Ryan and team Product Hunt. Gonna jet now, this was fun and your questions were great.
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@troycarterceo HUGE thanks to Troy for taking the time today. For those who want more Troy, check out our podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/product-h...
George Kollias@gkollias · Gigalize
Hello Troy. You have expressed an interest in helping artists optimize tours and maximize ticket sales. What do you expect to see (in terms of team, approach etc.) in a startup that tackles this issue?
George Kollias@gkollias · Gigalize
@troycarterceo if you are interested in our take as Gigalize, you can take a look at the Medium article I wrote concerning on our vision of disrupting the concerts industry, your comments are welcome: https://medium.com/@gkollias/the...
Rob@robgcarroll · VC at Oasis500
@troycarterceo If you had to start over, where/what would be your first step into the entertainment industry? In other words, where is the biggest, untapped opportunity?
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@robgcarroll If I was an 18-year old kid entering into the music business today, I'd be looking at how data is applicable to music. It's the most untapped area with lots of potential to build new businesses and revenue streams for artists. It's the first time in history we know exactly who the fans are, where they live, other artists that they're listening to & most importantly, their lifetime value. Fun times ahead :)
Adam Marx@adammarx13 · Freelance writer/editor and music addict
@troycarterceo This to me is one of the keys: "exactly who the fans are, where they live." For independents, this is where the future is, even more so that hard data and statistics. The data numbers back up the dynamic of the interaction between artists and their prospective fanbases, such that know how and where to interact with who is key in gaining the exposure that was once only attainable through radio format (college radio, too, for many underground artists). The artists are interacting, but there will be better ways in which to do it which will then reflect back on the exposure that they themselves will be able to drive to their material, as opposed to sitting on their hands and waiting for some to "discover" them. Lotta cool things on the horizon :D \m/
arjun mehta@arjunkmehta
What defines a company that understands culture, and how can a tech startup incorporate culture from the ground up? Really excited to work with you on trakfire! :)
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@arjunkmehta Arjun! Excited as well. To answer your q, Beats by Dre is a great example of a company that understood the inner guts of culture. They had a great understanding of the influence of a guy like LeBron James walking off the team bus with a pair of headphones around his neck, and what that meant to kids around the world. This wasn't done through consumer research, but done by people who live and breathe culture everyday. As a founder, you have to hire diverse teams -- not just people who are behind computers all day, but explorers who are visiting museums, looking at street art, who are great at people-watching and can recognize shifts in consumer behavior in real-time.
Luanna Williams@ellewms · City Launcher & Growth Marketer
There has been a lot of discussion lately around diversity in tech, or the lack thereof. A lot of initiatives are tackling the "pipeline issue", which alleges that there is simply an absence of talent from diverse candidates. Can you please share your thoughts on these failed initiatives and what you think we can do to bridge the chasm of perceptions of bias?
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hi, Troy! Looking forward to meeting the first batch of SMASHD Labs in a few weeks in LA. It seems like there are so many accelerators now days. Why did you start one? For everyone else: read @bizcarson's Business Insider article for more details on SMASHD Labs and here's a video with great music (of course):
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@rrhoover Thanks man! I think there's a lack of internal innovation in the music and entertainment, and in culture in general. And I felt like this was a way we could really add value.
Tav RG@moofaces · CEO, heychat
Jevon Feinblatt@deleted-289999
Test message.
Nick Suell@nikosoul · Social engineer/Leadership consultant
@jfeinblatt I'd be interested in knowing more.
Jevon Feinblatt@deleted-289999
@nikosoul Nicole. We'll get in touch, my email is feinblatt@gmail.com.
nicholas@ndichiara0412 · Hyperakt
@troycarterceo Hey troy, thanks so much for doing this Q&A! I really appreciate it, as do others I'm sure. To give you context, I’m a design student doing my Senior thesis on the digital Music Industry (like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Apple Music. etc.). I know these services have shrunk the number of paid album sales drastically, and every artist has handled this blow differently. How has Atom Factory been able to compete with cuts to album sales like this? Are you trying to embrace the new services or do think there is a better way services (like Spotify) could better serve the artist?
Christopher B.@chrstphr_
@troycarterceo Hi Troy - What difficulties did you face, if any, when transitioning from the music to the tech industry? And what advice would you give for a professional doing the same? Thanks.
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@chrstphr_ I spent a year in the Valley before I made my first investment, and the same way I had mentors when I entered the music industry -- did the same in tech. Reached out to mentors in the tech industry as well. Joe Londsdale, Bill Maris, Ron Conway, and Shervin Pishevar have all served as incredible sounding boards as I was building out my investment thesis. The biggest mistake is when you approach it with the same cowboy style that the music industry normally takes -- The biggest lesson that I learned: learn to speak geek. :)
Edwin Espinosa@edwinespinosa09 · Angularjobs
@troycarterceo tim ferriss likewise had a mentor and invested in small deals for about 1-2yrs along with his mentor. I think I heard this on a periscope
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
Troy! Such an honor to have you here. You were very vocal about getting fired by Lady Gaga (http://www.fastcompany.com/30241...). It seemed like one of many life-shaping moments for you. What have been some of the other big ones in your life?
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@melissajoykong I think my mother passing away last year at age 63 was probably the biggest life-shaping moment that I've had thus far. It taught me that time is our most precious asset. Work with people you love and build projects you deeply care about.
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
You've experienced very different worlds over the course of your life. You grew up in West Philadelphia, and now you are one of the most successful talent managers in Hollywood (which is a place that seems like an entirely separate reality, with a whole new set of rules). Given how much you've seen an experienced, what have you learned about what ultimately matters most in life?
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@melissajoykong What I've learned is the importance of enjoying the journey. My biggest flaw is that I'm never satisfied and I'm always striving for perfection. One of my biggest lessons is to appreciate perfection in the moment & that a final destination never really existed in the first place. I've seen a lot of young artists dream all of their lives about becoming the world's biggest superstars and when they get there, there's a sense of emptiness because not a lot has actually changed. I constantly remind them that it doesn't get better than this. Enjoy the fucking moment!
Bryan DeLuca@bryandeluca · CEO, Foot Cardigan
Hey Troy! Big fan. Two questions. 1. How do you even go about starting an accelerator? 2. Who is one artist we don't know about right now that we need to know?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@troycarterceo Hey Troy thanks so much for doing this today! What is one moment in your career that you will never forget? Plus, same question but for life in general and why? Thanks!
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@ems_hodge The moment in my career that I'll never forget is the night that I met P. Diddy. I was promoting a concert in Philly, and Notorious B.I.G was a no show. I got into a heated argument with his manager on the telephone & he decided to put on the CEO of the label. The CEO drove down to Philly that night with B.I.G. even after they missed the gig, and promised to give me another show. But I saw that as an opportunity to get to know Diddy better, and asked him for a job at his new music label, Bad Boy Entertainment, on the spot. I didn't get a chance to go to college, but that working for Bad Boy was my school in HUSTLE.
Eric Willis@erictwillis · Working on something new
@troycarterceo Hey Troy. Thanks for doing this AMA. What has been the most unexpected challenge in starting SMASHD and how have you addressed that challenge?
Kiki Schirr / 史秀玉@kikischirr · Founder, WeKiki Video Chat Platform
@erictwillis Can I piggyback off of Eric's question and ask how you ( @troycarterceo ) decided to start a content platform when so many companies (like Medium) are shying away from generation? The quality of writing SMASHD is providing is so high--I guess I'm asking how you've attracted and retained talent specifically. Thanks, sorry for the convoluted question.
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@kikischirr When we set out launch SMASHD.co, the idea was to create Forbes meets Fader. The intent of the platform was to look at tech through the lens of culture, and make tech a bit more down to earth and relatable -- less of an insider's game, but accessible to young hustlers. We hired Lori Kozlowski from Forbes, and the best attracts the best.
Edwin Espinosa@edwinespinosa09 · Angularjobs
@troycarterceo the power of influencers/musicians on social media has lead to a lot of companies trying to leverage it effectively. Why didn't a company like Bre.ad work? Is there a company OR business model you feel will be the best way to leverage the power of influencers/musicians?
Will Iam@acan8tve
@troycarterceo Like others have previously mentioned, I too am appreciative of you taking the time to participate in this forum. Moving on, could you and would you elaborate as to the type (industry) and size of investments you see Cross Culture VC making? Additionally, as the "new kid on the block" (in regards to the VC world)-how do you plan and expect Cross Culture to be able to separate itself from the pack?
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@acan8tve We're looking for founders with unique stories and a clear sense of what the future looks like. We're seeing a rapid demographic shift in America, and founders who understand the shift will build the next crop of multi-billion dollar companies. My partners and I are committed to seeking out those founders and giving them an opportunity.
Nick Mayberry@nmayber · Director, Tandem Capital
@troycarterceo What implications do you draw the influx of actors and other entertainment industry executives into tech investing? What unique value do these investors bring?
Troy Carter@troycarterceo · Atom Factory & Cross Culture Ventures
@nmayber When you look at an Ashton Kutcher, you can't put Ashton into the same category you would put a sitcom star in. Ashton is essentially a product guy. I wouldn't recommend a startup taking money from a random actor who couldn't add value, and I wouldn't recommend an actor investing in a startup without ever having any venture exposure. I think it's up to both sides to have the humility to ask the right questions, and really understand what the other party brings to the table.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Agreed. Celeb endorsements can help in the short term but in most cases, not super helpful in the long run unless they're truly engaged and consistently helpful (beyond the tweets). Here's @aplusk's LIVE chat from last week, btw.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
@troycarterceo Hey Troy, what is the craziest thing you've seen in a pitch that you can tell us about?
Craig Brimm@kissmyblackads · Founder/Creative Director
@troycarterceo Are you still working with music artist GaGa? If not will you ever again?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@kissmyblackads Hey Craig! This might help answer your question http://www.fastcompany.com/30241...
Craig Brimm@kissmyblackads · Founder/Creative Director
@ems_hodge Thank you!