Weav is the company co-founded by Lars Rasmussen, formerly of Google, where he co-created Google Maps, and then director of engineering at Facebook.
He and fellow Weav founder Elomida Visviki have been working on technology that adapts music to the context of its listener. In the case of Weav Run, that means adapting to their pace, but not simply by speeding up and time-stretching the track.
Until now, this has required using original music composed specifically for Weav, with the adaptive features in mind. The new partnerships – licensing deals with Sony Music and Warner Music as well as a “license to experiment” with several Universal Music songs – will bring famous artists in. Update: For now, in the US only, meaning that the app is only available there.
“It’s a new way of thinking about recorded music. A record is more like a recipe for a song: the listener can change the tempo and mood, and it responds,” Rasmussen told Music Ally ahead of the announcement, and shortly after Weav completed the first Techstars Music accelerator program.
Rasmussen and Visviki founded Weav in 2015, with the intention of creating the tech for tracks “that can be played back at any speed and still sound awesome” based on a mixer that enabled artists or producers to control the adaptive music, rather than simply time-stretching the original track.
Weav Run followed as the first demonstration of the technology in action in January 2017.
“It feels like the band is there playing for you: playing the best version of their track for what you’re actually doing,” said Visviki. “The music can become part of what you’re doing. But this doesn’t stop you from chilling in the living room with the original track, listening to the music you love.”
Rasmussen explained the process of turning master tracks from the major labels into adaptive tracks for Weav Run.
“We have assembled a team of producers that does the actual work, then presents it back to the original artist. It’s a similar process to making a dance remix: they kinda commission us to do a version of their track,” he said.
Being on the Techstars Music accelerator likely smoothed Weav’s path to deals with the major labels: both Sony and Warner were among the backers of the accelerator.
“Both Sony and Warner Music have been delightful to work with: the digital and legal departments of the labels are figuring this out,” said Rasmussen, who was speaking before Weav revealed its additional relationship with Universal.
“It’s about putting together an arrangement where we can internally exchange how this technology works – a three-month period in this case – and eventually we’ll figure out the commercials,” he said.
“In the old days, you had to spend two years making these complicated legal deals before you could get your first thing out to the user.”
He suggested that it has also helped to have “more music producers than software engineers” on Weav’s team, to smooth the process of presenting adaptive music as an opportunity for labels rather than a creative headache.
“In the future, new tracks will be composed in this way, from musicians with a mindset that they can express themselves in so many different layers and styles,” added Visviki. “This isn’t about time-stretching something. It’s about reimagining it.”
“Now, when we get hold of a track from a label, we’re the ones doing the creative work, but the next stage, hopefully a year or two from now, will be maybe more on the EDM side of the music world, the producers themselves making original tracks,” said Rasmussen.
“The ultimate goal, once adaptive music has become a thing that is well-known throughout the music world, will be that it gets taken into account when you write your music in the first place. Our company mission is to make adaptive music a whole new category of recorded music.”
Weav is already planning new features for Weav Run. At launch, the app matched music to the listener’s running pace. It will soon also be able to play a motivating role: for example, controlling the music to help someone run, say, a seven-minute mile.
When the app launched in January, it was described as the first of five projects based on the company’s technology and catalogue of music.
“We are building a platform here: there is a whole universe of things to be built, and the long-term success of our company is going to be about letting others use our player. But we are going to build the first few,” said Rasmussen, when Music Ally asked for more details.
What are the other apps? For now, Rasmussen and Visviki are only talking about the second in the series. “Our next one is a lovemaking experience. A delightful little musical game for lovers to use,” said Rasmussen.
Partnerships beyond the labels are also on Weav’s agenda.
“We are also talking to some marquee fitness outfits about them interacting with our technology. That’s when you’ll start seeing really large-scale distribution of that music: a better workout experience where the music fits with what you’re doing,” he said.
Weav is also considering its next move in funding, having raised £1.3m in 2016. Rasmussen said that the company does not yet need to raise more money, but that after pitching to a room of investors at the Techstars Music demo day, Weav is mulling another round to increase its headcount.
“We think our technology has reached the stage where the top musicians and labels in the world are finding it viable,” said Visviki. “We aren’t cannibalising at all the existing world. It’s a new universe!”