Next Big Sound: Alex White's Boulder startup uses social networks to find rock & roll's future

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Thanks to recording programs like GarageBand and social-music sites such as MySpace, Twitter and Last.fm, it's never been easier for wannabe superstars to record and distribute music. But how to find rock and roll's future among all this discordant noise? As described in this week's feature, "Wired for Sound," a Boulder startup called Next Big Sound believes it's found the answer.

Using specially-designed web crawlers that scour more than a dozen web services such as Facebook, Pandora and YouTube, Next Big Sound is tracking the real-time web chatter surrounding roughly a half-million musicians -- everything from when an unsigned indie band gets mentioned in an influential hipster blog to when Kanye West scores his four-millionth Facebook fan. The result is a minute-by-minute breakdown of every artist's fifteen minutes of fame -- and, if all goes as planned, the secret to discovering what, exactly, is going to be the next big sound.

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Alex White.
Call it Moneyball for the music biz, SoundScan for the social-media set -- and it's turning heads. Billboard magazine recently named Next Big Sound one of the ten best digital-music startups of 2010, and 24-year-old CEO Alex White one of its 30-under-30 executive stars to watch. Now these twenty-something coders, who've already scored roughly a million dollars in venture capitol funding, are flying around the country, meeting with record-label execs and speaking at music conferences alongside the manager for Lady Gaga.

Eat your heart out, Mark Zuckerberg.

It's hard to imagine that just over a year ago, the trio behind Next Big Sound arrived in Boulder without even a solid idea about what type of company they wanted to build. Thankfully, they had come to town to be part of TechStars, a startup accelerator that's become known for launching brilliant new businesses -- and Next Big Sound wasn't an exception.

To watch Next Big Sound and other startups go from zero to tech heroes in three short months, page down to check out some of the 2009 TechStars "video diaries" below. (You can find the rest at TechStars' video series page.) Think of it like the Real World for the tech crowd.

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