Former rapper Troy Carter's career is an unlikely and serendipitous success story.
Funded by, among others, Google Ventures, Founders Fund, Menlo Ventures and TomorrowVentures, the Backplane aims to transform how the entertainment industry interacts with consumers. Currently, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and the other outposts of a celebrity's digital career are separate. The Backplane aims to gather content and interaction into one hub, which could completely alter the economics of Hollywood: revenue that once flowed to corporations will flow to artists. "Up until this point, we've been data dumb," Carter says. "If a kid goes and buys a CD at Best Buy, we have no idea who the person is, how many times they listen to it, or anything like that. But we're building to the point where one day we're going to have access to all of the data. There will be a time where we'll be able to release music through the Backplane, where we'll be able to release music videos through there, we're going to be able to sell all our tickets through there. Over a period of time, we'll be able to build that audience so they'll know exactly where to come."
Traditional structures aren't set up to challenge an artist with the resources and tech savvy of a Lady Gaga. "It's a classic innovator's dilemma," says Miles Beckett, co-creator and producer of hit YouTube series lonelygirl15 and now the CEO of EQAL, a company that "builds influencer networks around celebrities and brands". "If you have a huge organisation, even if the leaders want to change, it's very challenging to move in a different direction. There aren't open incentive structures to fund little business units. They're set up to take a couple of years developing a TV show. Every single component of that process, from the development team to the content team to the ad team, exists to make a product slowly, rather than, 'We're going to post a video Monday, and change it Wednesday, and the marketing department is going to have to respond quickly.'"