Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 15th 2014 Contents SBG14 CASE STUDY
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 15 • 2014
Trevor Evans, the founder and
CEO of TrinbagoJamz Inc was
reviewing the latest report
from the company s account-
ant and knew that he faced a
difficult decision in the month
ahead. TrinbagoJamz.com was a relatively new
Web site started in 2012 with the goal of pro-
viding a forum where musicians and their fans
could interact directly and fans could contribute
small sums of money to their favourite artistes
to offset the cost of producing and marketing
While Evans had been excited to launch the
site, the business had yet to turn a profit and
he was unsure what was preventing the busi-
ness from taking off as he had initially hoped.
In the face of mounting losses, he needed to
decide whether to change his business model
or close down the business entirely.
Evans grew up in a family of musicians and
had always dreamed of pursuing a career as
an entertainer, just like his two uncles.
He had long accepted, however, that this
dream would not become reality for, as his
mother once remarked "that boy can t sing
to save his life". He had also been unwilling
to devote the time to learn to play an instru-
ment sufficiently well to earn a living in a pro-
fessional band. His love for music had never
died and even though he had built a successful
career as an insurance agent, he continued to
interact with the music industry as an agent
for several up and coming soca artistes.
He was a well-known and popular figure
in the local music scene and was always willing
to offer advice to those artistes just starting
out in the business.
Interacting with these musicians and lis-
tening to the struggles they faced is what had
sparked his interest in developing the Trin-
bagoJamz.com Web site.
Despite the proliferation of new music being
generated by artistes, one of the major chal-
lenges facing the local industry was financing
the production and promotion costs of a new
Unlike the North American music industry,
which was dominated by major record labels
who financed the recording and marketing
costs of albums for a hefty share of profits,
local artistes were often forced to foot these
Some of the more popular artistes were able
to sign profit-sharing deals with small inde-
pendent labels but many musicians released
their music on their own or in collaboration
with other artistes. In many instances, unless
the album was wildly successful, the profit
margins that artistes received was small or
they ended up losing money.
The TrinbagoJamz Business Model
The TrinbagoJamz.com Web site was created
to allow musicians and fans to interact directly
and bypass the record labels.
Fans who visited the site benefitted by lis-
tening for free to new music that they would
not otherwise have discovered and were
encouraged to contribute any amount they
wished, to support the artistes they liked.
Musicians could use the funds they received
to record and promote their albums and in
turn reward fans who had contributed towards
their recording costs with exclusive content
and deals on upcoming records.
Musicians paid a monthly fee of $300 to
the Web site for using the platform and fans
who contributed more than $100 towards an
artiste were invited to become a VIP member
of the site for a $10 monthly fee which allowed
them to chat directly with the artiste of their
choice. The company also made money by
hosting online advertising and charging a small
royalty on albums that were sold through the
Although Evans had first thought of the
business concept over five years ago, the devel-
opment of the website had been problematic.
One of the difficulties was sourcing competent
Web site developers who could bring the idea
to life. Having identified a developer, Trevor
had made several modifications to his original
idea as the site was being developed which
resulted in delays and additional costs to the
As a result, the launch of the website was
delayed by over nine months, during which
time a competitor site offering a somewhat
similar service had been launched.
Since going live, the Web site had been able
to sign up 80 musicians and attracted con-
siderable buzz in the music industry. A few
articles had appeared in the local entertainment
magazines and several bloggers had written
features about the website. Thus far, however,
only two artistes had been able to raise a rea-
sonable amount of funds via the site and no
VIP members had been signed up. The site
attracted over 11,000 unique visitors each
month and was largely being sustained by the
revenue generated by its ad content.
Understanding the problem
In an effort to understand why the Web site
was not more successful in achieving its goal,
Evans conducted a short survey among the
users. The results were both surprising and
an eye opener. Many fans said the site was
boring with not enough things to do on the
site and they were not willing to pay to chat
or interact with unknown musicians. Others
stated they did not trust the site to pass on
funds to the artistes and that they were scep-
tical of providing the site with their credit
Evans knew that he needed to act quickly
if he wanted to turn things around.
Some of the options to be considered includ-
ed boosting marketing of the site and creating
more activities for users on the site itself (eg
blogs and contests).
A more radical alternative was to expand
the business model beyond music to include
local movies and novels. If all else failed he
always had the option of closing down the
business or trying to sell it to someone else
who might be interested in the its potential.
Evans, however, was emotionally attached to
the Web site after all the hard work and time
that had been invested into the business. He
was eager to avoid closing the business or sell-
ing it to someone else.
1. What are the major oppor-
tunities and challenges in-
volved in Internet start-ups?
2. What are the major oppor-
tunities and challenges fac-
3. What specific actions
should Evans take to address
the Web site's problems?
Case study: TrinbagoJamz Inc
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