Carolynne Schloeder 

Carolynne Schloeder’s brother is a musician struggling for recognition in the competitive world of show business. Helping him, she says, was her motivation to work in music technology.
During the dot-com boom, Schloeder thought the Internet would be a major tool to help bring new ears to new music.

"I wanted to help him by bringing new listeners to new musicians but I don’t think the Internet has helped develop new artists because the music industry hasn’t really changed structurally," she says.
Schloeder was one of the founding members of what was called Listen.com. When the company fell on hard times during the dot-com bust, she made her move to Moderati Inc., a Japanese mobile phone ring-tone company that was poised to break into the American market. Schloeder had lived in Japan during an internship after college so she felt relatively prepared to do business with the Japanese executives who were courting her for the job.

"It really felt like this was a tailor-made opportunity for me," she said. "They were looking to enter the U.S. market and hired me to figure out how to do that. It was a leap of faith in the beginning because we didn’t really understand what they were doing."
But she figured it out quickly. She joined Moderati in 2001 as president of the U.S. division with just one other person. The company now has 40 employees in the San Francisco office.

"We’ve gotten bigger but we’re still small by most standards and that is intentional," she says. "I personally love the small business feel. We haven’t had to get bloated. We wanted to manage our growth."
Schloeder’s career has always followed the trends of the economy. Prior to getting her MBA at Harvard University, she worked as a consultant in the telecom industry. After business school, she stayed on the East Coast to work for SkyTel, a wireless company. There she worked in customer retention and marketing, which she says was "one of the hottest things" to do in the ‘90s. She moved back to the Bay Area in 1997 and helped found a company called Visto, a Web applications provider that no longer exists, before joining Listen.com. Her job there was herfirst experience with digital music and it prepared her to work in the music industry dealing with things like music licensing and artist consent.

Schloeder picked a good time to enter the ring-tone market. It may not have been sexy back in 2001 but this year ring-tones are expected to exceed $600 million in sales, according to BMI, a performing rights organization that represents songwriters, composers and music publishers. In 2005, the industry generated approximately $500 million. As the technology for mobile phone music has improved, so has its popularity.

"The consumers love the product. It’s music. It’s fun. It’s personalization," said Schloeder. "It’s about making your phone your own."

Although Schloeder was raised in San Diego and acknowledges that it might be easier to work with music executives from Southern California, she much prefers San Francisco.

"San Francisco is such a great city for local music and there are a lot of musicians who are also engineers and that’s a great fit for us," she said. "Plus there is a vibe that we’re not too LA. We’re not even Silicon Valley. We’re a little bit cooler and artsier."

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