Analysis

The 20 hottest music startups of 2017 (according to Midemlab)


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Who will be the next SoundCloud, The Echo Nest, Kickstarter or Next Big Sound? That’s the annual goal of the Midemlab startups contest, with all four of those companies having passed through its doors.

Held during industry conference Midem in June, Midemlab has just confirmed its 20 finalists for 2017: the startups that will be pitching their technology and businesses to attendees in Cannes – plus a judging panel that includes Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, Universal Music’s Ty Roberts and Google’s Christian Behrendt.

(Music Ally is a partner for Midemlab, and our CEO Paul Brindley is also a jury member for this year’s event. We also took part in the process for narrowing down the entries to the final 20.)

Here are those finalists, in their categories:

MUSIC CREATION AND EDUCATION

Uberchord (Germany)
iPhone app Uberchord helps people learn to play guitar, teaching chords and strumming, before taking them through a catalogue of songs – Ed Sheeran, Michael Jackson and Coldplay included – assessing their progress as they go.

Studytracks (Ireland)
Studytracks isn’t about learning music, it’s about learning other subjects, with music as its method. The iOS and Android app helps students revise for GCSEs, AS levels and (in the US) SAT/ACT exams by turning the core syllabus into music.

Roadie 2 (US)
Roadie 2 is a piece of hardware that promises to tune “almost any” stringed instrument. Place it onto the tuning peg and strum to make it work its magic. The $89 device from Band Industries has raised more than $450k on Kickstarter.

Skoog (UK)
Billed as “a musical instrument that anyone can play” as well as “like a games controller for making music”, Skoog is a squashy foam cube that connects (via Bluetooth) to an iPad, enabling users of all ages to make music or play along to their favourite songs.

HumOn (South Korea)
“The simplest music creation app for dreamers” according to its developer. HumOn gets people to hum into their smartphone’s mic, with the app then converting that into music – with tweakable notes, genres and even artwork images.

MUSIC DISTRIBUTION AND DISCOVERY

Truelinked (Denmark)
Truelinked is a network of classical musicians and presenters, where the artists create a profile that will help them get booked for performances. Truelinked negotiates the fee, keeping 6% compared to the 10%-15% that it says traditional agents take.

Diggers Factory (France)
Vinyl continues to enjoy a resurgence, and Diggers Factory is trying to help artists capitalise. It helps artists and labels create custom-made vinyl – whether of new albums or reissues – while providing a community for fans to discover them.

Yokee Music (Israel)
Yokee has a suite of apps for making and sharing music, including karaoke app Yokee with its “endless” catalogue of music to sing and share with friends. Its other apps include Yokee Piano and Yokee Guitar, which offer virtual touchscreen versions of those instruments.

Atmosphere (Netherlands)
An offshoot from startup Kollekt.fm, Atmosphere offers “personally selected in-store music” for its brand and retail clients. It has a team of music experts picking new tracks that match the music-profiles of its customers.

Disco (Australia)
Disco is aimed at anyone working for a company that needs to share music with a team of people: labels, music supervisors, publishers and more. Its software plays, organises and fosters collaboration around music files.

MARKETING AND DATA/ANALYTICS

Soundcharts (France)
Soundcharts has been one of the more successful music analytics companies trying to fill the gap left by the acquisitions of Next Big Sound and Musicmetrics. It tracks charts, playlists, airplay and social media for labels and artists.

Rotor Videos (UK)
Rotor Videos has developed a tool that quickly and easily creates music videos for its clients, editing its own themes and assets together with those of the artist. Read our report on the startup’s pitch at our NY:LON Connect conference in January for more details.

NPREX (US)
NPREX is short for the National Performing Rights Exchange. The company stresses that it’s NOT a performing rights organisation: instead, it pitches itself as a marketplace for direct licensing between publishers and labels, and music broadcasters and streaming services.

The Bot Platform (UK)
The Bot Platform is, yes, a platform for bots. Messaging bots, whether for artists like Hardwell and Axwell Ingrosso, or the BBC, for whom it powered a ‘Brexit Bot’. Read our interview with founder Syd Lawrence for more details.

Instrumental (UK)
Instrumental started life as a company mining YouTube data to spot up-and-coming musicians, but it has since expanded out into wider influencer marketing – pinpointing the right social stars (musicians included) for brands to work with.

EXPERIENTIAL TECHNOLOGIES

Vinci Smart Headphones (China)
Vinci’s key product are its “smart headphones”, which it has been selling as pre-orders for $129 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. They include an Alexa-style voice-controlled assistant; learn the wearer’s listening preferences; and track their activity.

SYOS (France)
Standing for ‘Shape Your Own Sound’, SYOS is targeting saxophonists with its first product. It asks them what kind of sound they want and their style of play, then creates a customised €299 mouthpiece for them.

Pacemaker (Sweden)
Pacemaker started life as a DJ app, then got some clever AI features to automatically mix and pick songs. Now the company is trying to create a platform for legally sharing mixes while getting the original song creators paid. Read more in our recent interview with the company.

TheWaveVR (US)
US firm TheWaveVR is one of a cluster of virtual-reality startups exploring music. In its case, it wants to turn the live experience into something between an immersive light-show and an interactive gaming experience, with social features key. Read our profile of the company to find out how.

ORB (Sweden)
Orb Industries’ product is the patent-pending ‘Orb format’, although it’s been keeping details close to its chest. This blog post gives a taste of the company’s inspiration, but you’ll need to wait until MidemLab for the full reveal.

Stuart Dredge

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