Abbey Road Studios in London has announced that HumTap and Lickd will be the next two companies to join its Abbey Road Red startup incubator, under the wing of a new boss for the program.

Karim Fanous, formerly head of research and insight at Music Ally (that’s us!) is taking over from Jon Eades, who has been in charge of Abbey Road Red since its launch in 2015.

“Karim is a classically-trained musician and brings a really broad skillset to Abbey Road Red. We’re really looking forward to seeing what he can do with Red going into the future,” said Isabel Garvey, managing director at Abbey Road Studios.

Fanous was unveiled at a demo event at the famous studios complex tonight, which also saw HumTap and Lickd confirmed as the program’s next two startups.

HumTap is an AI music-composition app that’s currently available for iOS, enabling people to hum a melody or tap a beat into their phone to have a song created in a genre (or like a band) of their choice.

Meanwhile, Lickd – formerly known as Hookd – has built a platform to license labels’ recordings to online-video creators on YouTube, Facebook and other social services.

The event saw pitches from the last two Red startups, Vochlea and AI Music, as well as appearances from alumni startups Scored, Ossic and CloudBounce – the latter of which announced plans for an initial coin offering (ICO).

Garvey said that the startups that have been part of Abbey Road Red so far have raised around $15m in funding, and are “collectively worth in the region of $100m”.

She also outlined some changes to the way the incubator works. It’s shifting from a bi-annual model to an “always-on intake” when startups will join and graduate at different times of the year.

“Our aim is to take [up to] six a year, or at least one a quarter,” said Garvey, adding that Abbey Road is planning to develop and commercialise more of its own technology.

“We would like to start creating more sandbox environments where we can play with technology, and see if there’s something we can develop and take to market potentially,” said Garvey. “We are particularly looking trends around AI and spatial music.”

Abbey Road also launched several technology projects in 2017, including a “demixing” tool developed by one of the studios’ internal technicians, which splits out songs that weren’t originally multi-track recorded into individual tracks, so they can be mixed again. It has since been used for Beatles and Rolling Stones remasters.

The studios also launched an app called Topline to help songwriters record their ideas as and when they have them. “We want to get Abbey Road outside the building and be relevant to people who are producing and making music at home,” said Garvey.

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