In Volume 5 of our “Meet The Team” series we introduce the founder and CEO of Play.fm, Georg:
How did you come up with the idea for Play.fm?
To understand how the idea developed I need to go back in time. I´ve been listening to internet radio since the mid 90ies, eg interFACE Pirate Radio and Beta Lounge and later also Samurai.fm. At that time there were no filesharing platforms or download shops established yet, not even mp3 files were available (only realtime streams) and I was still recording radio shows from FM4 (an Austrian FM station) on cassettes.
Then, at the beginning of the millennium, I started DJing and organising parties with the Melt crew. We thought it would be cool to record our parties and make the recordings available on our party website. At the same time FM4´s focus became more and more indie/alternative during the day and electronic music shows were moved to a few spots in the late evenings – not enough space to present the great variety of music enthusiasts,DJs, labels and promoters Vienna (and Austria) had to offer. The idea of Play.fm was born (2003).
Describe the beginning of the project and all it’s difficulties.
Haha, all the difficulties would fill a fat book. More important to mention is that without the help of so many people working for the project or supporting it somehow it wouldn´t have been possible. In April 2004 we moved into a small room at Museumsquartier Vienna which served as an office as well as a radio studio. With the help of the Melt crew we set up a mini website on some university server, and soon we were joined by other people who wanted to work with us, programmers, server admins, graphic designers, DJs and many other helping hands. I remember that we only had money to pay the rent for two months when we moved in, so everyone had to work for free and all other costs could be covered by selling beer (and some public funding we received later). First, we began recording parties in Vienna and published the recordings on the site. End of 2004, with the launch of a new website, we also started a daily live programme produced by Viennese DJs, promoters and label owners in our studio. Soon, hundreds of mixes and radio shows were available in the database and could be listened to on demand.
We’ve digged into our photo archive and found some old pics from back in the days…
How did Play.fm change over time?
Quite a lot I´d say. As more and more DJs asked us to publish their mixes on our website and our editors had to do that for them manually, the work load for our team increased steadily. We had to think about another model to finance the whole project, so we made a concept for a new web 2.0 website (the current), applied for public funding, founded a company in 2008 and launched the new site in March 2009. Many people who had worked with us at the beginning had to finish university, got new jobs or founded a family, so the team had changed over the years. Also, when our contract for the studio at Museumsquartier ended in 2009 and we couldn´t find a similarily cool place, eventually we stopped the live programme and focused on developing the website.
What is your job at Play.fm?
I´m mainly responsible for strategic and business development, the further development of the website and our mobile apps. But as the founder I like to be involved in everything a bit.
What did you do before Play.fm?
After school I went to Tijuana/Mexico to work with kids in a slum, studied Business Administration and Economics in Vienna and Mexico City, worked as a research assistant for knowledge management at ECDPM in Maastricht, worked for an elearning company that went bankrupt in the dot-com crisis, tried my luck with party promotion and eventually used the time of unemployment to build up Play.fm.
What are you currently working on, are there any special projects?
I (and the whole team) am working on the relaunch of the user dashboard and the user profiles. They will be so much better and more social than the old ones, that´s why we can´t wait seeing you use them on the live site.
What are the near future plans for Play.fm?
Not so near maybe but one of the top plans is to rebuild the whole system with new technology. When we started building the site in 2008 we had to build a lot of stuff by ourselves that can now be replaced by better working open source technology. The big plan is to make the site simpler and faster.
What is the feature you like the most on Play.fm?
The new userprofile :)
What is your favourite mix on Play.fm?
If we had the new user profile ready I´d say “go and have a look”. But let me give you three (still not representative for all the genres I like):
The Hacker - DJ set @ Rote Sonne (Munich,DE) – 2011-01-07
Kollektiv Turmstrasse - Kollektiv Turmstrasse @ Romy S (Stuttgart/D) – 2009-02-27
Koe - Soulthieves Radio 2012-01-04
Name your current favourite artists?
Sorry folks, I have favorite DJs, favorite Sets and love the music that these DJs play. I like most of the tracks they play, but I cannot identify any favorite artists/producers. When I was a drum and bass DJ I had some favorite producers, eg Kemal & Rob Data, Marcus Intalex, Influx Datum, Total Science, Digital and many more. And I still love the old records I have, most of them from 1998-2005.
Best club you’ve ever been to?
The one with best (and most) memories: Flex/Vienna. But times change.
And I have particular great memories about a club I played in Moscow called Beafeater, not because of the location but the people that went totally crazy with the Spanish MC we had with us. That was insane.
…and the best live performance?
Prince @ Stadthalle/Vienna 1987
Can you remember which was the first album you ever bought?
Prince: Sign o´the Times (1987)
Tell us the most embarrassing tune of your youth you still like?
What makes you go mad?
go mad: people making excuses
go sad: DJs who give a shit about beatmatching
go to bed: a bad soundsystem
What are you doing on your day off?
Go and say hello to mother nature. Rivers, lakes, woods, mountains & the sea – I would die without.
What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
There´s always Stolichnaya, and about 100 different jams I never finish.
Give us five of your all time favourite tracks.
Some all time favorites from my record collection…