All day at the Midem conference in Cannes, music/tech startups have been pitching as part of the Midemlab contest. This afternoon, the competition’s winners were announced.

HumOn, Truelinked, Soundcharts and Vinci Smart Headphones emerged as the victors for 2017, impressing their panels of judges with their technology and business pitches.

HumOn won the music creation and education category, with its app that turns people’s humming into music that they can share on social networks. Read our full report of the five finalists’ pitches.

Truelinked won the music distribution and discovery category, for its platform connecting classical musicians with artistic directors. Read our full report of the five finalists’ pitches.

Soundcharts won the marketing and data/analytics category, with its analytics platform for artists and labels. Read our full report of the five finalists’ pitches.

Vinci won the experiential technologies category for its smart headphones, which come with AI and voice-control features. Read our full report of the five finalists’ pitches.

Soundcharts also won a People’s Choice award voted for by the audience at the winners-announcement session.

Before the winners were announced, a panel session of Midemlab alumni from past contests talked about the impact the event had on their businesses. The panel included Josquin Farge from Soundsgood; Bernd Kopin from Mimi Hearing Technologies; and Liat Sade-Sternberg from Fusic.

Sade-Sternberg said that about a month after the Midem her company pitched in, it closed $2m of funding, buoyed by winning its Midemlab category. “It definitely helped the investor to get the right trust and to understand that there is something in the model and in our vision,” she said.

“One of the main understandings after Midem was after a talk with one of the judges, who asked me why don’t we use the technology on more segments, not just music: why don’t we try to work with movie content or sports content?” she said. “Since then music has just become 20-25% of our solution, not 100%.”

Kopin was equally positive about Mimi’s experience, having come from a healthcare background. “It builds up trust when you talk to investors, when you talk to partners. People reach out to you saying ‘hey, you won at Midem!’,” he said. “And many people we met in the audience at Midem gave us amazing feedback… the feedback we got bolstered our opinion that we needed to build up an ecosystem… We were an app company, now we’re an app company that licenses the technology.”

Farge talked about Soundsgood’s post-Midemlab pivot, after not winning its category in the contest. “We did a pivot from a B2C approach to curation to a B2B approach,” he said. Midemlab did help Soundsgood get meetings with the major labels though. “They told us that we are working on something very relevant, but actually there is something to do on the B2B approach… we couldn’t pay for the access to the catalogue [for a B2C service].”

So now Soundsgood provides influencers to the major labels, creating playlists for them on the various streaming services and helping them to break new artists.

The panel were asked about how the role of music startups has evolved over the last 10 years. Kopin said that Spotify and Deezer – who were startups 10 years ago – have helped to prove there is a business in music/tech. “If we had started 10 years ago with Mimi it would have been a bit more complicated to get funding, but now it’s really the time to start a company in the music industry.”

Sade-Sternberg had a different view. “From our experience, investors are not keen to invest in startups where their main focus is music,” she said. “We should find a better way to bridge between startups and entrepreneurs and the music industry… The leading labels are eager to try new technology, but it gets tapped when you are starting to speak about licensing issues and how to promote the campaign.”

“Everything is going much slower than other entertainment segments: sports, movies… we can launch promotions much easier,” she continued. What needs to improve, then? “It’s a matter of vision and focus. If a traditional company such as Coca-Cola could bring new innovations, could launch campaigns in two or three months, there is no doubt a record label could do the same,” she said.

I do believe that today, companies such as Fusic can generate new revenue streams for the music labels, but this gap has to be closed.”

Music Ally’s Midem 2017 coverage is supported this year by Music is GREAT, the British government’s campaign to promote UK music exports.

The UK and British Music are represented through the British Music at Midem stand, with the Department for International Trade joining forces with music industry associations AIM (Association of Independent Music), BPI (British Phonographic Industry), MPA (Music Publishers Association), PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) and PRS for Music.

Together, they will support over 150 UK music businesses and member delegates as they seek to pick up on the latest trends, connect with international companies, sign deals and develop trading and export opportunities.

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