The 20 hottest music startups of 2016 (according to Midemlab)


SoundCloud, Kickstarter, Next Big Sound, Songkick and The Echo Nest are just five of the companies that have passed through the Midemlab startup contest – originally known as MidemNet Lab – over the years.

This year’s Midemlab finalists have just been announced: 20 startups that will be pitching their wares at the Midem conference in Cannes this June.

Disclosure: we (Music Ally) were involved in the process of narrowing down the 150+ entries to the 20 finalists, along with fellow contest partners Atomico and Bluenove. We’d love to know what you make of the final selection. So without further ado:


Antescofo (France)
Aimed at amateur musicians who want to up their game – by playing with “great orchestras at home”, whose playing adapts to their own efforts. The results can be shared socially.

Flat (UK)
This is a web-based score editor that aims to get composers working together on the same document: a Google Docs for sheet music, essentially. It works with mouse’n’keyboard or MIDI devices.

Mimi Hearing (Germany)
This app tests people’s ears, then personalises their music to their “hearing profile” – complete with processing technology that it promises will make songs “crisper, clearer and ‘louder’ without increasing the absolute gain”.

SoundGrabber (France)
An interesting twist on music discovery, focusing on the world around its users. This app pulls in music that has been “geo-localised by artists and experts”, with a native advertising platform accompanying it.

Trackd (UK)
Another music-creation startup: Trackd’s app is an eight-track studio designed for mobile recording, with built-in mixer, metronome and lyric pad. It’s also designed for social use, so friends can swap stems and collaborate.

Tracklib (Sweden)
Tracklib is hoping to create new revenues for musicians from their recordings, turning them into tracks and stems that can be licensed and bought by their peers, whether it’s for sampling or sync uses.


Ikonfete (UK)
One of a number of startups in 2016 trying to connect musicians with their keenest fans. Ikonfete uses game-like features to get fans interacting with social posts and buying merch and content. Artists can then reward the superfans.

Kombie (Australia)
This app wants fans to create their own content, blending their own selfies and clips with official artist videos, then share them with friends and the wider world. It’s also hoping to integrate sponsored content.

Maestro (USA)
Amid the industry complaints about the revenues flowing back from online video services, Maestro is hoping to help that income grow. It works as a layer over YouTube and Twitch to add even more social features – and money-making opportunities.

Plum Research (Poland)
The music industry is awash in big data, but Plum Research is one of the companies trying to make more sense of it. Here, it pulls together information on what people listen to, how they listen, and even their *cough* torrent activity.

Revelator (Israel)
More data: Revelator is a rights administration platform with a digital focus, providing a web and mobile interface for its music clients to log in, understand their analytics, and then use that information to take quick decisions.

Stagelink (Germany)
A “fan-powered tour promoter” that asks fans where they are in the world and how much they’d pay to see their favourite artists – thus helping those musicians plan tours. It’s working with 150 creators already.

Tootoot (Slovakia)
In the same vein as Stagelink, this is about crowdsourcing tours, collecting votes from fans on where a band should play next. It works as a website, an app and within the Facebook pages of artists, venues and media.


Ad-Lib (Spain)
We’ve seen plenty of ‘Intel Inside’ branded computers, but guitar pedals are a new twist. Ad-Lib’s smart pedals aim to help guitarists get the effects that the pro players use, without the hassle of changing throughout a song.

Avegant (USA)
Armed with the slogan “your personal home theatre in a headphone”, this is a “retinal imaging-based near-eye display” designed to be worn like headphones, or flipped over your eyes like a VR headset.

KLANG (Germany)
This Kraftwerkian-sounding startup makes the 3D audio technology that a lot of musicians are already using on-stage. The company is now seeing an opportunity in the emerging sector of VR, where spatial sound is a big plus.

MIND Music Labs (Sweden)
More guitar smartness: this time the actual instrument rather than its pedals. Mind has a device called the Sensus: “a guitar, a wireless music system and an IoT device” that can stream songs to play along with, among other features.

Moodelizer (Sweden)
A fascinating piece of software that helps people score films, YouTube videos and other video content, tweaking music to fit the visuals by “moving a cursor in a pad” – complete with precision beat-matching.

Qleek (USA)
We’re all familiar with the idea of URL shorteners like TinyURL: ways to shorten a link. Qleek promises “physical shortcuts to your music” – wooden ornaments for the home that can be scanned with a device to go straight to the album or playlist they represent.

Tempow (France)
There are plenty of Bluetooth speakers from different companies on the market, but they don’t tend to work together. Tempow claims it’ll synchronise with any of its rivals: a clever way to build your own multi-speaker system.

How indie label Marathon Artists launched its own startups accelerator
20 music/tech startups Music Ally will be watching in 2016
Music Ally’s coverage of new startups so far this year

Written by: Stuart Dredge