In the world of Web 2.0 with more online services geared to capitalize on needs of individual consumers and artists, eMinor hopes to strike a chord with musicians.

The startup, which landed $2 million in funding last summer from Southern Capitol Ventures and Novak Biddle Venture Partners, is working with bands and song writers to disrupt conventional music publishing through its Web site ReverbNation.

Just as consumers have forced changes in music sales and marketing through the popularity of such sharing sites as Napster and online markets like iTunes, so to does eMinor hope to help bands self-publish, promote and sell music outside of typical label channels.

In an e-mail interview with WRAL Local Tech Wire, eMinor Chief Executive Officer Michael Doernberg, a veteran of software firm Smartpath, talked about eMinor’s business.

"There are profound changes occurring within the music industry," said Doernberg. "ReverbNation.com was created to empower musicians and independent bands so they can more closely interact with their fans and, as a result, be in better control of their financial destiny. Our suite of easy-to-use online tools allow musicians, labels and venues to convert connections with fans into cleaner, more stable revenue streams."

Why will musicians want to use your service?

ReverbNation.com is a true music community rather than a social network that has a music component. We have the luxury of being able to build specific functionality around music that creates a better experience for artists, venues, labels, and fans alike. As we like to say around the office “In OURSPACE Music comes first.”

For example, we have a user-centric player that plays the music you have selected even if you change pages on the site or leave the site entirely. We have an unlimited queue that allows you to load up as many songs as you like and listen all day. We offer you a “library” on your own page so that you can cruise the site collecting the music you love and have easy access to it the next time you come back. From the library you can create sharable playlists that other users can “grab” and store. If you update your playlist, those that are sharing receive the update as well. Its kind of a hybrid between a mix tape and a personal radio station. Artists will always be privy to where there songs are (on which playlists), how fast they are spreading, and who is spreading them.

Those are a couple of the general features for users that make the site more appealing overall.

Musicians, specifically, will join our site because it provides a better mechanism to interact with their fans, and better information about their fans. The artists we talk to know that it isn’t just the raw number of fans that’s important. The strength of that bond is important. Other sites have provided mechanisms for making connections with potential fans, but fall short of providing meaningful tools for converting those connections into relationships that have real value for the artist over time. Having thousands of fans that don’t respond to your messages or don’t even read them is just more work for an artist and more spam for the fans.

In Music 2.0, your relationship with your fans is your source of value – your biggest asset. Our site provides artists, venues, and labels the tools they need to make and grow new fan relationships and to take precious care of their existing fans. A strong fan base, coupled with tools to deliver the right message to the right fans at the right time means more songs sold, more merchandise sold, more shows sold-out, and more opportunities of every kind.

Artists, venues, and labels who share our beliefs will be among our earliest adopters. Eventually, those who take the best care of their fans will win share of ear and share of wallet. We give our users a competitive advantage in this regard.

How do you make money – do bands/artists pay fees or do you get a share of revenues or both?

Joining the ReverbNation.com site is FREE. Joining also gives you free access to powerful tools and a wealth of valuable information.

ReverbNation.com will be successful to the extent that we make the artist, venue, or label incrementally more successful than they already are. To that end, two types of rev streams are likely:

1. Advertising Revenue
2. Transactional Fees

Let me explain #2. We help artists grow their top lines. This mission fits hand-in-glove with the idea of revenue sharing, as it aligns our incentives with those of the artist. We will be offering a set of advanced services to artists, venues, and labels to help them achieve their desired revenue objectives, be it around distribution, merchandising, touring, or promotion. Our transactional model is based on helping the user meet their goals.

We believe we should be included in revenue only if we played a role in its creation. For example, if you sell a download through our site, we should share some of that revenue because we helped make that sale. If our tools help a venue sell out a show, we should share.

Likewise, content creators (i.e. artists, labels, venues), whose presence on our site brings in traffic, should be entitled to sharing the revenue generated by the eyeballs on their pages. I often ask artists, “How much money did you receive when Myspace was sold for $580 Million?” They look at me like I’m crazy for a second, then realize that their band was part of generating that value – yet they received nothing.

Sharing in advertising revenue is one of the key ways for artists to leverage their Band Equitytm in the Music 2.0 landscape. If we do our job right, artists will come to demand it all over the web.

Please giver me a couple of examples of the “tools” you plan to offer musicians and how they can be used.

We already have a place for them to showcase their music, upload pictures, maintain a blog, create playlists, and communicate with fans – all the stuff you’d expect in a community site, only improved.

The first real “tools” for artists, venues, and labels will be in the areas of fan communication and web presence management. In lay-person’s terms, we will be helping them target the right fans with the right message at the right time (eliminating the dreaded “email blast”) and helping them save time when it comes to managing all of the places on the web where they keep information about their band.

Most new features will fall into one of the following big buckets of needs expressed by artists to us:

1. Distribution (selling music)
2. Merchandising (selling stuff)
3. Touring (selling tickets, landing more gigs)
4. Intelligence (understanding who/where their fans are)
5. Promotion (developing new fans)
6. Retention (keeping existing fans engaged)
7. Communication (the means to all of the ends)

Is it your intent to sell music online or to help musicians find places to sell their music?

We will provide a mechanism for selling music on our site, but its important for our artists to be able to publish music to other retail sites through ReverbNation.com. Musicians need both.

Will you or can you become agents for bands/musicians?

There are a lot of great managers, labels and agents in the music business. We do not want to be competitive with them, but rather count them as our partners by providing them ways to make their bands more successful.

As a result, this is not part of our business plan at this time. ReverbNation.com is agnostic when it comes to this band or that band. We provide services and tools to all members of the music community without discrimination or preference.

Becoming agents of a particular artist removes impartiality and opens up the door for accusations of playing favorites or using the data from the site to exploit artists. I will tell you, however, that becoming involved with specific artists is like the forbidden fruit – incredibly tantalizing, but ultimately deadly.

Some competitors in this space have decided to leverage the information they collected about the artists and fans to actually become a record label or manager. These are very fundamentally different businesses. To be a great artist services and music community on the web is a technology problem. Its what we know and what we will stick to.

You call this Music 2.0. Please explain.

Music 2.0 is about a lot of disparate (but linked) changes in the industry happening all at once. When taken together, these shifts add up to the coming of an entirely new era in the way people interact with music and the way those interactions are monetized (and who does the monetizing). The term is a play on Web 2.0 because it encompasses some of the same ideas. Music 2.0 is about user generated where the value is created through aggregation. It’s about viral marketing versus mass marketing. Its about revenue through touring, merchandising, licensing and rev sharing versus selling CDs.

The internet and other technologies have broken the monopolistic strangle hold that major labels and radio stations have had on the industry, leveling the playing field for independent artists and smaller labels by democratizing “access”. Think Myspace. Simultaneously, other technologies have reduced the cost barriers of pursuing a career as a musician. Think ProTools (software that can record/mix/produce professional grade music for around $300 on your pc).

The result is that more people are incentivized to create and distribute more music (while retaining more control), and fans have infinite choice as to where to access that music. The tradeoff comes when you realize that all of this music is battling for share of ear. Increased competition means lower prices for the music itself, and as a result artists will need to find more innovative ways to cash in on what we call their “Band Equitytm”.

This is where eMinor comes in and why we say that our mission is to “Serve Music 2.0”. We are developing paths for artists to better leverage their “Band Equitytm” in this changing world.

Doernberg based the concept for eMinor based on discussions with Lou Plaia, a longtime record label executive with Atlantic and Lava Records, and Scott Egbert, a founder of artist service companies GigAmerica and GigUrban Showcases. Plaia and Egbert man the firm’s N.Y. office. How do they fit into your plans?

Businesses like eMinor tend to get started when there are inflection points in the industry, Many times the inflection points are disruptive changes happening as a result of technology and changes in consumer behavior. The music business has been historically a very different type of business in the fact that it is very relationship oriented and very emotionally driven. Mike and I believe that it is important that we work WITH the industry from the outset to help facilitate the music 2.0. Lou and Scott allow us to work with the industry from the inside out.

Their role is actually two-fold. First, they provide us with an understanding of how things work in the business today. Our products and services need to be innovative, but need to be positioned in contexts with which musicians are already familiar. Lou and Scott provide us with keen insight into how to convert benefits to artists into features that they will understand and use.

Second, our goal is to serve the entire music community. That includes labels, managers, venue operators, and musicians of all flavors. Lou and Scott bring with them the knowledge and contacts to expose the products and services to a wide array of folks in the business.

Are you capitalizing on the growth/popularity of such community self- publishing sites like MyPlace and Lulu?

Self-publishing is a burgeoning area on the web. We are looking into opportunities in that space.