Making beautiful music: local start-up is changing the way musicians collaborate

Jimbo Lattimore says he's probably the only chartered financial analyst who's played every club on Beale Street.

Now he's putting his business acumen and musical passion to work as CEO of local start-up Musistic.

The company has created a networking plug-in that allows for open, asynchronous collaboration between musicians recording anywhere in the world on virtually any digital recording platform.

Lattimore describes it simply as "the Google Docs for audio recording."

"What we've done is developed a tool that allows musicians to transfer raw uncompressed audio between any two digital audio workstations, analogous to two people working on a Google spreadsheet at the same time," he says. "We're building a professional, LinkedIn-type network for musicians which will have a marketplace component so musicians can go find other people to record with."

Vince Rogers, Justin Olita and Brian Wentzloff founded Musistic and Lattimore joined as CEO in late 2013. It currently has more than 1,200 users and is getting bigger every day. Lattimore said the company has grown 45 percent in the past 60 days.

It raised its first round of capital in January and closed another bridge loan about four months ago. To date, Musistic has raised about $330,000 and is working on closing another round of funding that will funnel more than $1 million into the company.

It also has a pending partnership with a big-box music retailer.

"We're accelerating, and we feel like we're about to bust at the seams of what's going on," Lattimore says.

For musicians and studios, Musistic reduces the cost of production. Using the plug-in, musicians don't have to fly from Los Angeles to New York and all points in between to cut a recording.

A hypothetical might work like this: a band needs a cello player for recording, but the local go-to cellist is on tour.

"Using our plug in, I could find a cello player in LA or Beijing and be able to send them a part to play, they can load that part in their recording software, play their part and send it directly back to me in a matter of minutes."

At home in Memphis
Aside from its musical heritage, Memphis has been a great place for the company to grow because the cost of doing business is much lower than in the bigger coastal markets.

"We can do on a couple of a hundred thousand dollars what a start-up on either coast would take millions to do," Lattimore says.

Musistic currently counts three employees, but that number should rise to seven or eight in the next two months. All the employees are locally based.

"It's really important for us to develop a corporate culture, and by doing that I feel it's important that everybody has a foundation here so that we can all be in the room together and look at each other," he says.

Music schools have been a foundation for Musistic’s growth thus far. Lattimore said Visible Music College has been paramount to the company's testing and development.

Other local partners have helped fuel the growth trajectory as well. Loaded for Bear, a Memphis advertising agency, is a company shareholder and has handled its marketing efforts. Musistic is a graduate of Start Co. and recently traveled to Silicon Valley with a group of other Memphis start-ups.

"Start Co. has been fantastic," Lattimore says, "continuing to help push us, make sure we're on track and then make introductions both locally and nationally. They've certainly leveraged their network and extended network to try to get us in front of the right people at the right time."

The company recently introduced an upgraded version of the plug-in and will continue to leverage technology to hone its products. Lattimore said Musistic is a tech business in the music space, but everyone involved--from the CEO to the head technical developer--is a musician.

"Musistic fundamentally is by musicians for musicians," Lattimore says. "We want to help people make better music."

Read more articles by Jane A. Donahoe.

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