Interview: Dan Rayburn

Interview: Dan Rayburn, Director, - 26th Oct 2003


What's your background, and that of your company?

I got started with streaming media technology really by accident. After a short time in the Air Force right out of high school I worked for Apple Computers as a certified system engineer. I was responsible for going on-site to customers locations in NYC to repair Apple based hardware that was under warranty by Appple. At around the same time, in 1995 Apple sponsored an event called the Macintosh Apple Music Festival which was my first introduction to multimedia on the web. The event consisted of about a dozen clubs in NYC wired to archive music over a multi-day period to the web. In 1996, with 14.4 modems prevalent and streaming media technology from RealNetworks (then Progressive Networks) capable of producing audio streaming in near real time the event grew to nearly two dozen wired clubs, broadcasting over 300 bands over a 5 day period. That was my first introduction with the concept of delivering real-time content to users on the web, one which we knew at the time was going to be crucial in the way users received information.

In 1997, Apple bowed out as a sponsor and Intel became the title technology sponsor and the event lasted a few more years to where the 5 day event became a company called Digital Club Network which took the concept a step further and now broadcasts live music from clubs all over the world round-the-clock.

After leaving Apple, I co-founded in 1997 one of the industry's first streaming media webcasting production companies, Live On Line, later successfully acquired by Digital Island for $70 million dollars in 2000. Live On Line specialized in producing live webcasting on-site at the concert venue. We worked with the labels, management and entertainment portals to capture all of the audio and video from the concert hall and deliver it to the web. Around this time is when the music labels were really getting into using streaming media technology to help get awareness for artists on the web. Over a year and a half period at Live On Line we broadcast a few hundred bands from David Bowie to the Beastie Boys.

After leaving Live On Line, I joined the Globix Corporation (, forming their streaming media division and took the services concept a step further to where we not only did the production, but also the delivery of the content via a global IP network. By this time we focused heavily on enterprise based events in the US and Europe where corporations used streaming media technology for training, marketing and press events. Over a nearly 4 year period at Globix, watching the company grow from 50 employees to nearly 1,000 in under 2 years, the streaming group broadcast events for enterprise, entertainment and government sectors including A&E, ABC, Apple, American Express, BMG, BP, CBS, Cisco, Elektra,, HBO, House Of Blues, ifilm, Indy 500, Intel, ITN, Microsoft, MTV, Pepsi, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Qualcomm, RealNetworks, SonicNet, Sony Music, Twentieth Century Fox, United Nations, Viacom, VH1 and Warner Brothers among others.

After leaving Globix in 2002, I formed my own consulting company where I advised companies in the streaming media sector to as to their business models, strategy, industry foresight, hardware and software products, delivery methods and cutting edge technology solutions in the US and abroad.

In 2003 I joined Streaming Media Inc. as Executive Vice President responsible for the growth and direction of the on-line, research and conference divisions. Streaming Media Inc. is a diversified media company responsible for serving and educating the streaming media industry. Since 1998, Streaming Media Inc. has been producing the number one website, who's goal it is to educate those on the benefits of streaming media technology. Streaming Media Inc. also has a research division and I am the Conference Chairman of the streaming media tradeshows we put on twice a year in NY and CA.

Also in 2003, I re-entered the service provider space taking a job with Mirror Image, ( a Boston based company who's streaming media services division focuses on creating, managing, distributing and tracking content for corporations. With the decline of many services providers over the past 2 years, and more demand for the services from enterprise organizations, it was a natural time to get back into the space with a company who packaged and delivered the services properly.

What is Streaming Media (for the "dummies")

Very simply, streaming media is a technology that allows you to view audio and video in near real time over the Internet. It is comprised of algorithims that take huge audio and video files, compresses them, and then transmit them over the Internet to where the software player on your machine un-compresses it. It is very different technology than say downloading a media file where you would have to wait till 100% of the file is downloaded and saved to your computer. Streaming media allows you to begin to play the file while the rest is being sent to you.

For a video overview of how it all works and more information for those new to the technology visit

What are your aims and objectives?

My focus no matter who I am working with in the industry is to educate those on the value of this technology and help continue its adoption. I want to see streaming media get to the point of where the technology is not thought of when you use it. Just like the fax, you use it because it works, it is a business tool, you don't think about how the fax is getting from one end to the other. Streaming media is beginning to become seamless in that the technology is being adopted in the enterprise, media and entertainment verticals, for set top boxes, DVD recorders, and wireless devices.

Streaming Media Inc. has been the go to place for all streaming media information and my goal is to continue to provide the resources the industry needs on adoption and growth data and provide those who are using streaming the business and technology knowledge to implement or choose the right solutions. It is a never ending process.

With Mirror Image, my goal is to provide corporations with a valuable and tangible benefit to using streaming media services on an out-sourced model. Keep the service simple, package it well and provide them with all the education they need for it to help them grow their business, reduce their costs and communicate more efficiently and effectively.

How did you get your break?

Having never touched a computer till after high school I give Apple a lot of the credit for designing products way before anyone else that allowed you to do multimedia type applications. With QuickTime, Apple was way ahead of the industry back then. Also being in the right place at the right time helped. And probably most important was being able to work with such a talented group of people who were just as excited waking up and working with this technology each day as I was. Having the vision is crucial but the people who put it all together for you was the key in pulling it all off.

What advantages has streaming media given the Internet, and particularly Internet broadcasters and publishers, such as myself?

It has allowed them to reach an audience that they could never reach otherwise through terrestrial radio. The technology now allows anyone to easily produce, manage and distribute their own show and programming online. Additionally, you can market to specific verticals and niches to deliver content to specific users.

What is the process involved when I potential client of yours says, "I want to stream media"? - just an example - like brainstorm, what are your aims and objectives, budget, existing technologies, ideal outcome etc?

Well for starters why do they want to use it? What is the business communication problem they have that they are looking to solve. No money is worth spending on anything if you do not have a way to justify your ROI. Also, it depends what you are looking to do as solutions like VOD and webcasting have completely different requirements. For webcasting, you can read my article entitled "Broadcasting Live Events: What You Need To Know - Understanding The Basics"

What websites and publications do you

a. own?

b. contribute to?

a lot. but the main ones are:

b. subscribe to? Newsletter

DigitalMediaWire Newsletter

Google News on Digital and Streaming Media Newsletter Newsletter

Internet Acceleration Newsletter Discussion Lists


What form of streaming media do you prefer, and why? eg - audio, video, real, wmp or Apple?

Although people never believe me when I tell them, I don't have a preference. Each one has it's own advantage/disadvantage and as a general rule I like what works, is easy to upgrade and troubleshoot, and provides support for the most end users as possible. The format you choose to put your content into, it not as big a factor as it use to be.

What are the "big 5" recording labels doing to try to combat the power going back to the consumer, via file sharing etc?

I could rant on this all day but I'll only make a few points. First, it's all about greed, it always has been and always will be. Secondly, and most important, the record labels need to remember one KEY point, "THE CONSUMERS ARE YOUR CUSTOMER!". Listen to them! You exist only because they give you their money. If they want their music digitally, then figure out a way to deliver it to them where both sides are happy. Instead, you take the approach of trying to shut down new distribution methods and technology and then sue your customers at a time when you are starving for new sales outlets. Also, the record labels need to stop playing dumb and pretend like they are all surprised by the digital music trend. Prices of CD's have risen 16% since 1997 and new CD releases have fallen 14% since 1999. (source WIRED magazine October 2003) So labels as a whole are putting out fewer selections of music, at higher costs. And remember when they paid those fines for getting together and price fixing CD's? You treat the customer like they are idiots and in return you are losing the battle. Case in point, how many artists have left their labels completely to be able to distribute their music on the Internet. Your losing artists and the consumers so your approach is lets go out and try to scare people and bring on a lot of lawsuits. How about you take the millions of dollars you are spending to sue people and use it to develop a legal digital music distribution system. Ever hear of Apple iTunes music store?

What were the major milestones in the streaming media business?

There have been so many. Looking at it from the bigger picture, the technology went from delivering AM quality audio to VHS quality in under 5 years. The technology has and continues to grow faster then the business models and adoption rates. The major milestones were Apple, RealNetworks and Microsoft making a commitment to this technology for the long run and investing all the dollars needed to put us where we are now. Competition between those 3 have led to the best technology advances within this industry.

What have, and still are, the industry issues? - eg ROI, bandwidth costs.....

Depends who you talk to. Right now the buzz word is "enterprise." Before the Internet bubble burst so many companies were focused on selling into the media and entertainment verticals and when those folks stopped buying services and hardware because they had yet to create a successful on-line model, streaming companies realized that they needed to sell into the enterprise space where they spend money for services that are valuable to their business. Cost is also a factor as the prices for these services is still all over the map. Bandwidth is a dead issue, bandwidth and shipping bits is a commodity. The Internet is overbuilt right now.

What are the biggest misconceptions about streaming media and web casting?

People do not understand, including people in the industry, that they are not "selling" streaming media. Streaming media is a technology, and you build applications and services on top of it.

Also, people still talk about this technology as "new" or "cutting-dege" which it isn't. Come 2004, streaming media technology has been around for 10 years.

The biggest problem with any technology I feel is hype. The biggest problem was that people were selling streaming media services talking about the "technology" and not the value. I don't care how good a technology is, if you do not show the client the value it provides, it is useless. Because so many streaming companies were selling it based on technology alone, we still have to get many corporations out of the thinking that streaming media technology is just a "nice to have", and not a "must have". We've made a lot of progress but we still have to educate more. EDUCATION IS THE KEY.

What has kept you going from strength to strength, when so many other folks fell over in the dot commer

So many of those who fell over simply were trying to make a quick grab at market share and were never really building anything. Their business plan was to be bought in 2 years and that's it. If you don't build something, and add value, you may make it in the short-term if market conditions are good, but if they aren't, you die quickly. Greed ruined so many companies and still continues to. Having a focused plan and sticking to it even when others are not successful at it is the key to building something. Studying what others did wrong with their business models and service offerings is key to realize how it can be improved to make it successful. A down time is one of the best times to be able to capitalize in a market because there are usually fewer choices for the service or product you are offering. Enjoying what you do and being in a business because you love to do it I think is all it takes. Being a smart, honest and focused business person.

Has CNN got the right idea with the Real One paid business model? - are they cutting out too many
potential customers, or is it now a luxury service?

In some regards yes. I think over time, people will pay for content via the web, wireless, etc...that is important to them or effects their life. But right now, so many of those offerings focus on the technology and not the content and service/value being offered. Also, keep in mind for all the people who say how successful they are with a subscription offering, they usually don't release more than how many users they have, and neglect to tell us what their 'costs" are. Subscription models and the such on the Internet are successful now but only in a limited form which will change over time.

How do you, and your clients, judge the success of a streaming media conference, like an "internet world", where you have 100's of exhibitors, but not much business gets signed on the event day?

Actually, we don't judge any of the events we produce based on the volume of exhibitors or exhibitors. Yes, we want as many possible of both, but the majority of what we focus on its the "quality" of the attendees and exhibitors. Because if you focus on the "quality" the quantity will come with time. Additionally, we judge them based on the feedback we get, the type of qualified leads exhibitors receive and the quality of the conference and workshops we produce. No show in any Internet vertical is like it use to be two or three years ago, but those that are focused and provide a valuable opportunity to educate attendees on the technology and business issues can succeed.

What are your current projects?

Streaming Media Inc.

Mirror Image Internet

Speaking, lecturing and teaching:

Radio Show



What motivates you?

What motivates me more than anything is being able to work with people who got into this for the same reason I did back then, because you loved it. It was not about money. There was no money in it when we started but we did it because we saw the value and enjoyed it. And I still wake up every day excited as to where this is all going. I am motivated by knowing that each person I educate and take the time to talk to helps us all in the long run. Speaking motivates me as there is no better feeling than having people come to hear you speak and ask questions because they want to know more, where as five years ago we had to go bang on their door. Now they are banging on ours and I feel we have the tremendous responsibility and ability to educate them and take this to the next level.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received on a business and personal level?

Good question. Business wise: "no matter what industry you are in, your reputation is all you have." Personal level, "you cannot put business before the things that are really important in life. It must be the important things first and then business, or at least both hand in hand."

What dealings have you had with Australia?

Very little. I've dealt with some radio clients based there and I take quite a lot of calls from Australia from users of the website. But other than that not too much. However I would love to get involved with some companies there and am always reachable at

What do you do to relax?

Get as far away from the computer as possible. I live for snowboarding and try to take as many trips as possible to ride in places like Chile and Alaska. I put in a lot of long hours but I make sure to remind myself all the time that this is only a job, that's all. I am always hearing from the older generation how spoiled my generation is wanting everything now and having anything on-demand and I agree.

No technology will ever take the place of a good handshake.


Editors note: This guys knows streaming media! If you want to know more about it, ask him! Media Man Australia looks forward to learning more about this technology from Dan and his team.


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