The recently published Forbes “30 Under 30 in Music” includes a bunch of Rolling Stone-types of musicians (Skrillex, Gaga, Miley, etc.) and some lesser-known names behind well-known phenomena like Spotify and Grooveshark. In that latter category is one J Sider – better known in his Harrisonburg hometown as Justyn Sider – the CEO and founder of BandPage.
BandPage allows musicians and bands to create online profiles (e.g.) that can automatically sync photos, show dates and other information with profiles on a growing number of other web and social media services, including Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, Vevo and more. As a one-stop hub for managing an online presence, Sider says BandPage helps artists earn more money by doing a better job of reaching and engaging with their fan bases online. (Creating a basic profile is free; BandPage makes money by selling premium services and taking a cut of band merchandise sold through the site.)
Since the company launched in March of 2010, more than 500,000 musicians and bands have created BandPage profiles. BandPage has attracted $19 million in investment, has 40 employees working at its San Francisco headquarters and satellite offices in Los Angeles and New York, and was first conceptualized right here in Harrisonburg.
After a number of years managing bands and music venues in several states, Sider – a 2003 EMHS graduate – decided that existing online tools for musicians didn’t allow them to reach their fans effectively enough. He returned to Harrisonburg in 2009 to put his mind to some sort of technological fix, and spent several months sketching out his ideas and looking for designers and developers to help him make it a reality.
During this time, Sider ended up passing through San Francisco on a roadtrip where some friends connected him with a few people in the tech world there. Conversations began, one thing led to another, and before long, Sider headed there permanently to start the company.
“Music was a big part of my upbringing,” says Sider, listing off influences that include his musical parents, singing in the Mennonite church, the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir, high school choir and basement shows at the Spaghetti House.
Sider worked for Rosetta Stone while growing up (his father, Duane, has been with the company for many years) and was inspired by its example “that it is possible to turn an idea into something for the world to use.”
“It’s funny. It’s an honor, it’s … I don’t know. It kind of just happened, I guess. I’m so focused on building the business and making these ideas turn into reality that I’m just like, ‘Oh, wow,’” says Sider, on being named to the Forbes list of young music movers/shakers for the third year in a row.
Over the next two years, Sider’s goal is to turn BandPage into the largest music platform in the world, while keeping his local roots, friendships and family a “highest priority.”
“Harrisonburg is one of the most beautiful places. I love to get back there every chance I get. I represent H-burg every chance I can get,” he says.
Sider furthermore tells Old South High that his couch is open to any visitors from Harrisonburg, and any Harrisonburg band that comes through San Francisco on tour will get the full hookup – email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to take him up on this.