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New mobile platform could make Madison into music-streaming mecca

Set to launch in August, LÜM aims to combine music streaming with social media to allow up-and-coming artists to more easily and profitably reach music fans.

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Madison is home to a number of top-notch venues for taking in live music from local, undiscovered bands to well-established national acts, from the Majestic and High Noon Saloon, to the Sylvee opening this fall and The Frequency, which is closing its doors at the end of June after a 10-year run.

Now, the city could soon be home to the next big thing in music streaming.

Live Undiscovered Music, or LÜM, is the brainchild of a number of current and former UW–Madison students, foremost among them Max Fergus, co-founder and CEO of the soon-to-launch music-streaming platform.

Fergus grew up near Madison and was raised by two UW alums that encouraged his spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. He started his first business when he was just 7 years old and was traveling the U.S. and selling tumbled-rock jewelry at art fairs.

During his time at UW–Madison, Fergus studied finance, investment, and banking, while focusing on health care. He worked in Shanghai and in San Francisco, at life science and health care venture capital and investment banking firms, respectively. Last fall, he accepted a job upon graduation at Rothschild and Co. to help start the company’s investment banking division in North America. However, his passion for entrepreneurship never wavered.

“To maximize my time left at the UW, I, along with a talented group of UW students and alumni, started a think tank focusing on rapidly growing industries with antiquated business models,” Fergus explains. “After months of research and work, we started LÜM. With the support of my family and friends, I recently decided to forgo my offer at Rothschild, and pursue my dream of changing the world with that same entrepreneurial spirit I’ve had since I was young.”

Fergus notes the LÜM team’s interest in music is not the primary reason they decided to focus their startup on the music streaming industry.

The startup’s original think tank focused on rapidly expanding industries with business models that needed to change or were not being optimized, Fergus says, and they were actually surprised to see that music streaming was that industry. “That said, I was surrounded by a group of passionate music lovers and fans. The combination of our market analyses, along with our team’s devotion to helping a community that we cared about, ultimately was the reason that LÜM was formed.”

LÜM was founded on the basis that the financial problems in the digital and live music industry were directly correlated to the frustration of the majority of its consumers. That is a recipe for needed disruption, says Fergus.

LÜM is a music discovery and streaming platform that is entirely constructed on a social network. “Our application focuses on up-and-coming artists around the world and provides the ability for users to discover, share, and circulate their music, explains Fergus. “By constructing LÜM on a social network, users will be able to interact with their friends in largely the same way they do with networks like Instagram, but they can use music as a catalyst for engagement on the platform.

“We feel that music is a social experience and connecting friends around the world with the music they love, and will love to discover, allows us to create a continuous daily debate about the direction of music and culture,” Fergus continues. “This will also help us decrease the disparity in exposure between corporate music and new music, and link local areas into the undiscovered music that is all around them. By rethinking the interaction between social media and streaming, we hope that LÜM will eventually become a live entertainment ‘talent pool’ for up-and-coming musicians around the world.”

LÜM integrates social networking and streaming in a way that does not exist on current streaming platforms such as Spotify or Soundcloud. The key with LÜM is its mobile platform, notes Fergus.

Current alternatives focus on subscription and advertisement-based models. They also focus on AI predictive technology that primarily shows corporate and mainstream music. LÜM flips this entirely on its head.

“We take out digital monetization and replace it with human beings, because it turns out that’s the way the next generation of listeners wants to discover music — with and through their friends,” Fergus says.

The LÜM platform also highlights emerging artists that get drowned out by the oversaturation of corporate content on conventional streaming sites. “Our goal is to use streaming as a means to an end in order to get these emerging artists into live events where they will actually be able to make a living from their passion for music,” says Fergus.


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