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eMinor, An Online Music Community, Strikes Chord With Backers To Tune Of $2M

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DURHAM, N.C. — eMinor's plans to build an on-line music community for independent musicians has struck a chord with investors.

The Durham-based company has landed $2 million in first-round financing from Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Raleigh-based Southern Capitol Ventures.

eMinor, which was launched in February, is developing software tools and services for musicians. It plans to launch a web-based community,


, this fall. A beta launch for some bands was launched in July.

Leading the growth of eMinor is Michael Doernberg, who founded two other software firms - SmarthPath and Marathon Innovations.

"There are profound changes occurring within the music industry," said Doernberg, eMinor's chief executive officer. "ReverbNation.com was created to empower musicians and independent bands so they can more closely interact with their fans and, as a result, be in better control of their financial destiny. Our suite of easy-to-use online tools allow musicians, labels and venues to convert connections with fans into cleaner, more stable revenue streams."

eMinor plans to use the funding for additional hires, marketing and new product development.

The company plans to make money from advertising and transactional fees. It is not seeking to act as manager or agent for bands, a company spokesman said.

As part of the deal, Jack Biddle, a co-founder of Novak Biddle, and Jason Caplain, a co-founder of Southern Capitol Ventures, will join eMinor's board of directors.

"The music industry is in transition and eMinor is moving very quickly to take advantage of new and evolving market opportunities," Caplain told WRAL Local Tech Wire. "With an exceptionally strong team and the right mix of music, business and technology experience, we have been very impressed with their insight and strategies for going after this market.

"On top of that, Mike Doernberg and his technology team have a successful track record of building market-leading software companies," he added. "When ReverbNation.com is fully launched this fall, eMinor will unveil a market leading online platform that will empower independent musicians to grow their own revenue and interact more closely with their fans."

eMinor has offices in New York and Durham. The web development operation will be based in Durham. The New York office will focus on artist support and industry relations. The company currently employs seven people.

Doernberg based the concept for eMinor based on discussions with Lou Plaia, a longtime record label executive with Atlantic and Lava Records, and Scott Egbert, a founder of artist service companies GigAmerica and GigUrban Showcases. Plaia and Egbert will man the New York office.

eMinor's management team includes Jed Carlson as chief marketing officer, Steve Jernigan as vice president of technology services, and Robert Hubbard as chief technology officer. Doernberg, Jernigan and Hubbard all worked together at SmartPath. Carlson met Doernberg through pitching of the business plan that led to the creation of eMinor. Zeno Gill acts as art director. He founded an independent record label called Pox World Empire.

The company will support musicians with a wide variety of tools, said Carlson.

"We already have a place for them to showcase their music, upload pictures, maintain a blog, create playlists, and communicate with fans - all the stuff you'd expect in a community site, only improved," he explained about the ReverbNation website.

"The first real 'tools' for artists, venues, and labels will be in the areas of fan communication and web presence management. In lay-person's terms, we will be helping them target the right fans with the right message at the right time (eliminating the dreaded email blast) and helping them save time when it comes to managing all of the places on the web where they keep information about their band," he added.

Other tools will deal with distribution, merchandising, touring, fan intelligence, promotion, retention and communication.

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