Analysis

Startup Showcase: 8 emerging music/tech firms pitch at NY:LON Connect


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As Music Biz and Music Ally’s NY:LON Connect conference drew to a close, eight emerging music/tech startups pitched their wares to the industry audience: from music-discovery to AI, location-based marketing and analytics. Here’s how it all went down.

Jammber

CEO Marcus Cobb said Jammber’s goal is to provide tools to enhance and streamline the creative process. “We’ve been pissed off too many times by the fact that old processes or technology has hindered great music from coming into the world,” he said.

“Data is money. You cannot separate the two. Data about who created what, when, where and how… And our current state of industry metadata pretty much sucks… Historically we’re capturing the data way too late in the process. And the tools we tried to build in the past to enhance or fix that interfere with the vibe of creating, so the creators reject them.”

So, Jammber is “life-cycle management for musical projects” tracking songs from their initial conception through to their performance. A web-based platform for project management built around songs, tracking sessions, credits, splits and paperwork, among other things.

Jammber’s tools will be free for individuals, and will start at $75 a month for businesses. The company has been in private beta for eight months, and is opening that up to other markets. It also has a partnership with Nielsen to supply studio-level metadata to the latter company, for use in its charts and analysis.

MyMelo

CTO Chris Cox introduced MyMelo as a platform giving tools to the broadcasting industry, and to artists, labels and promoters. “Historically radio was a tastemaker, a curator, it was something that catalysed music consumption and events and passions across the world. But in the digital era they have fallen back a bit in the power that they hold, and the audience attention that they hold,” he said.

“We provide additional revenue streams back to the broadcasters: we enable them to become a retail outlet for music. To become a DSP… to be able to do ticket integration and sales, direct to the audience.”

So MyMelo wants to help radio stations extend into streaming and other kinds of music retail, while increasing their advertising inventory, and opening up other digital opportunities. “Getting down to t he community connection is really what all this is about,” he said. “Music is local, but local doesn’t necessarily mean a country or a region. To us it means a ZIP code… There’s massive untapped potential in this arena.”

Stationhead

Co-founder Ryan Star Kulchinsky talked about Stationhead’s origin story: he’s an artist, who teamed up with his childhood friend Jace Kay to develop a startup that they hope can help musicians make more money from streaming. “I thought ‘How do I get more fans to do that?’ Along with the story of me always wanting to be a radio DJ, from the days of Pump Up The Volume,” he said.

So Stationhead is essentially user-generated radio stations built on top of streaming services: DJs and listeners sign in to Spotify or Apple Music, and can then launch their own stations based on their playlists, and then tap an ‘ON’ button to start talking live to all those listeners, or tap on individual profile photos to chat to them on-air.

Kulchinsky demoed his own station, with 27 people listening during the pitch, all logged in to Apple Music or Spotify. “I can choose any song in the whole Apple library [or Spotify] and everyone who’s logged in is listening to this song. We’re generating 27 streams right now. We built a social network on top and the whole music industry makes money,” he said.

Record Bird

Next up was Austrian startup Record Bird, and its CEO Andreas Mahringer. It’s an app that tells people when their favourite artists release new music, whatever service it’s on. “We’ve always thought a lot about how can we help an artist to reach all of their fans, not just in our universe, but wherever those fans are at,” he said.

Mahringer was actually unveiling a new product at NY:LON Connect called Sendmate. “A tool that enables you to send hyper-targeted messages to your fans. We help you to collect a lot of actionable data around your fans… On top we help you to group them into relevant groups, and we help you to get to the fan through the most relevant channels. And we’re starting with Facebook Messenger.”

He added that the aim is “no one has to wonder who their top 100 fans in Brooklyn are, and how to get to them”. Artists can create campaigns targeting fans in a certain location – for example to distribute free tickets to a gig – or to fans of a certain demographic, with an offer for a particular item of merchandise.

“What if you could upload your tour dates, and depending on the location your fans live, they’d only get the three locations closest to their area?” he said. Or send Spotify tracks directly to fans’ inboxes, which could be played and listened to within Messenger. The company has plenty of ideas for how the tool could be used. “It’s quite early days, but we’re very excited.”

Landmrk

Co-Founder Tom Nield explained that Landmrk is a location-based platform that enables bands (or brands) to ‘place’ content at specific locations in the real world. Fans can then view a map to find their way to those places, and listen to the music, watch the video, or interact with whatever the content is.

“We’re looking to create really easy-to-access mobile-web content experiences,” he said. “We can open up audio, imagery, competitions, vouchers, and we can place any content piece anywhere you want in the world.”

Alt-J, James Vincent McMorrow – who drove people into record stores to have a first listen to his album – Jonas Blue, Rise Against – who sent superfans on a treasure hunt to win tickets to concerts – and Latin American boy-band CNCO are among the artists who’ve tried it. CNCO placed first-listen tracks in locations across their home continent, with fans in the different countries competing against one another in a leaderboard.

Oh, and Shakira, who announced her new album by using Landmrk to drop new music, videos and even hold a private show in locations around the world. “We’ve come up with this term called kinetic currency: the value exchange of physical movement in return for a reward,” said Nield.

Paperchain

Rahul Rumalla, CTO of Paperchain, explained that his company was founded in 2017 to tackle challenges around metadata and royalty collection. Paperchain’s mission is to “solve the problem of unpaid royalties and unidentified rights owners” – the infamous ‘black boxes’ of the music industry, which are held by some rights organisations for years, before being disbursed to their members, often based on market share.

Paperchain started by conducting research to gauge the scale of the problem, breaking it down into categories of black-box revenues: unidentified performers, master owners, publishers, writers; unlicensed and unnotified works, and unmatched usage. “The bigger the label, the higher the effect of royalties being unidentified or copyrights being unidentified,” he said.

So how big is this problem? “We came to this number: $2.5bn. A large part of this does get back into the industry through market-share distribution, but it may not always be to the rightful rights owners,” said Rumalla. Paperchain will publish a white paper outlining its findings in early February.

It’s also working on a platform called PURA, which it hopes will connect up the black boxes, and help the correct rights owners and creators get paid. “We found about 60 million instances of rights owners being affected,” he said. It’s focusing on copyright admin, business intelligence and royalty accounting for future features, but for now PURA is in beta with a number of music companies and PROs.

WARM

CEO Jesper Skibsby introduced WARM’s tool to help artists understand how their music is being played on radio stations around the world. Information that is “basically only accessible to very large corporations within the music industry” – PROs and major labels for example.

“We aim to monitor as many radio stations anywhere in the world, whereas our competitors are focusing on large stations in selected countries,” he said. “In our system, you upload your song, and any time it’s being played in the world, you will be able to see it in real-time in your dashboard.”

WARM covers 130 countries, and currently has a database of 27m songs via partnerships with aggregators. “Approximately 200,000 songs are active in the system,” he said, in terms of what’s actually being identified. “How can you use WARM? For example you can do geographic fan targeting, optimise tour booking, control radio promotion… and you can compare it with your statements from your PROs! But that’s another story…”

WARM costs €5 per month per song, or €36 per year per song, with a one-month free trial for a single song, to give artists a taste of how the service works. Among its future ideas: AI-driven radio plugging; YouTube monitoring; genre-based radio charts, and a new college-radio system in the US and Canada.

Asaii

Finally, Asaii CEO Sony Theakanath, describing “the AI A&R analytics platform for music… We want to capture, contextualise and connect all music data on the internet… Nobody is cleaning up all this data, and that pisses us off as engineers!”

Asaii hopes to serve A&Rs, digital marketers and booking agents alike. It’s created something called the ‘Asaii Score’ based on streams, social metrics and news. One of the tools using this is called Discover, which will (he hopes) show A&Rs the unsigned artists that might be worth checking out. “Our charts are, in fact, better than SoundCloud, Spotify and YouTube,” he said.

Other tools include Track, which a label or manager could use to see how their artist is doing: for example, understanding how effective news articles have been in driving other metrics.

Stuart Dredge

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