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RootMusic aims to oust MySpace Music as mayor of music on social networks

March 1, 2011 |  9:38 am

J Sider Quick -- what's the largest music application on Facebook? If you're stumped, that's because the answer, RootMusic, didn't even exist a year ago.

Launched last summer, the tiny San Francisco company has since become the eighth-largest overall application on Facebook and the social network's largest music app.

Why the sudden popularity? RootMusic's free plug-in lets bands upload their songs into playlists that listeners can stream from their Facebook fan page and sell tickets to upcoming shows.

The company also has a paid service that charges $1.99 a month, or $20 a year, to let bands further customize their pages.

In typical "freemium" models, about 5% of users take out their wallets for the paid version. "We're far beyond that right now," said RootMusic founder J Sider. "We're able to make good money to support the business at this point."

On Monday, RootMusic announced it had signed up 100,000 bands who use its software to set up customized Facebook fan pages, including top tier artists such as the Grateful Dead, Arcade Fire and Kanye West.

The company also announced it has hired Chris Wiltsee, the executive director of the Recording Academy's San Francisco chapter and the founder of Youth Movement Records, to head up business development.

The up-from-nowhere start-up has also attracted the attention of major league Silicon Valley investors, including Mohr Davidow Ventures and Larry Marcus, who has also invested in Pandora Media. This week, RootMusic closed on a small round of funding to raise $800,000, bringing its total funding to $3.1 million.

As for what's next, the 12-person company says it wants to become synonymous with music on Facebook, replacing what MySpace Music has been to bands. While MySpace hosts far more band pages, traffic to the News Corp. social network has dwindled as millions migrated to Facebook. News Corp., which bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005, is now searching for a buyer to take the money-losing site off its hands.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: J. Sider, RootMusic's 26-year-old founder. Credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times