From The Guardian:
The boss of We7 reveals how he co-created the online jukebox with Peter Gabriel and why he believes it is the future of radio
Steve Purdham, the co-founder and chief executive of online jukebox We7, can recall those heady Saturday nights as a DJ in the pubs and clubs of northern England. The Durham-born 20-something saw disco fever rise and fall and hung up his headphones on the arrival of Soft Cell and The Human League.
Now Purdham has swapped his doubledecks for the internet. The online music player he founded in 2007 with the former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel is taking off – and he thinks it is the future of radio.
“Music is so powerful that just taking an individual song does chemically change people,” he says. “That’s what DJing showed me: if you listen to the emotion of the audience, you can change their state. What I do now is let people listen to music in a way that can affect their lives.”
Since its launch five years ago, We7 has been on the crest of the wave of changes in music and on-demand listening. We7 has evolved from an ambitious music downloads site to a streaming service similar to Spotify, before last year transforming into an online jukebox.
We7 has survived the downfalls of internet pioneers including MySpace and Napster – and contributed to a surge in digital income for the music industry. Last year total digital income accounted for 35% – or £282m – of the total UK music market, up from 14% (£128m) in 2008, according to the trade body, the BPI.
But Purdham says it was not until 2010 that he saw the potential for a viable business model in digital music – three years after he had convinced Gabriel (pictured below in 1973 when he was in Genesis) to back his vision for an online jukebox. “The exciting thing was that it could not work,” he says. “It looked impossible. But you just knew that the internet was going to disrupt the music world. The way the music industry has grown has made an industry which is not accepting new technology. And that’s one of the reasons why it got itself into trouble.”
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