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This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
August 25, 1999. All rights reserved.
Internet Entrepreneurs, 20
Start an Internet company and get rich young. Starting
with Jason Olim, who founded CDNow in his parents’ basement, there
seems to be an never ending supply of stories about young
who took E-commerce companies public and became millionaires before
they turned 30.
Jim Milton, 20, wants to be in that category. He just finished his
sophomore year at Syracuse University and is majoring in
but timing is everything, in the Internet start-up world, and his
idea couldn’t wait. He took a leave of absence to found the Digital
Music Corporation and has launched three sites so far,
(to provide an atmosphere where people can discover new music and
new bands), http://www.buymp3.com (to purchase the
music), and http://www.internetstereo.com (to explore
audio techniques other than MP3).
Can a 20-year-old get respect in the investment community? "The
level of respect comes from the fact that people my age who are both
Internet savvy and in tune with music understand something that older
people might not — online music purchase and promotion of new
artists," says Milton.
Referring to the public furor over using Mp3 to "steal"
bands’ music by downloading them for free, Milton says he is trying
"to use Mp3 as a legitimate vehicle for sales and distribution,
versus being used by pirates. We are targeting college students plus
a new wave of consumers who have not tried Mp3 yet, to introduce them
to digital music as something not inherently free."
He ticks off his offerings: his firm licenses music from established
new artists, will offer immediate download, and will offer secure
sales for the entire album. "We are going to use an audit trail
system to hold people accountable for those files," says Milton.
The software, by Cognicity, imprints a digital fingerprint — a
transactional watermark — when the music is bought. "A record
will be made of you as the first person to purchase the file. If the
file surfaces on another site or hard drive — you will be held
His site contrasts with the more well-known Mp3 site,
which offers mostly unknown bands a way to showcase their music.
can download these bands for free, though that website is working
on a deal with ASCAP to track the download so artists can get
no matter how minuscule.
So far, Milton has 400 songs on the free site (you can hear one
song plus 30-second excerpts of other songs) and 140 songs on the
for sale site. He has three people working full-time doing database
programming. Two of Milton’s classmates from South Brunswick High
School, Robert Bahl and Brian Greenbaum, will work for the firm when
they go back to college.
Next, Milton plans to offer an innovative way of sampling and buying
the music by partnering with a hardware company. Buyers of an Mp3
player would receive free CD-ROMs with locked versions of albums
on the website. The albums can be sampled and can also be purchased
directly from the CD-ROMs.
He predicts downloading music from the Internet will eventually be
referred to by a term that is "format agnostic," such as
or Digital Music, and has taken steps to secure the domain names for
"Above all we want to become a profitable company," says
who decided early on his entrepreneurial future. The son of an
contractor and an insurance agent, he won a couple of invention
in the second grade by devising an appliance to help children and
disabled people pour large containers of liquid. He studied piano,
taught himself the guitar, acquired his first Internet connection
at the age of 13. In high school he got very involved with the music
scene, promoted punk rock concerts from independent labels, and
bands turn into acts.
From his father, he learned that what makes an entrepreneur different
is that an entrepreneur always finds a way to solve a problem.
that means bringing in older heads. "That is something I invite,
because my vision is bigger than something I can do. I believe it
will be useful to have people who have been around helping me out
in any way possible. Says Milton: "I really do understand the
way young people feel about music. I am not a seasoned manager, but
as an entrepreneur I have the ambition."
— Barbara Fox
South Brunswick 08852. Jim Milton, president. 732-329-0456; fax,
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