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Next week, Music Ally publishes its Q3 Report, which is devoted to music/tech startups and emerging music business technologies. We have already written about over 100 music/tech startups (or startups that are adjacent to music) so far in 2021 – and that’s not including the many startups that have been featured here in Tools. 

So we asked regular Tools writer – and Music Ally’s Head of Marketing Services – Marlen Hüllbrock to round up a handful of the startups from various marketing categories that she thought were particularly notable from her coverage in 2021 so far. 

Advertising: AudioMob

Audiomob places audio ads into mobile games which play while the game session continues –  the idea is not to disrupt the user experience, so the ad can achieve a bigger impact. 

AudioMob’s tech detects “audibility states” – whether there is background music playing and how high the volume is, and before the platform serves an audio ad, it makes sure the volume is above 30% and pauses any background audio content. Crucially, it doesn’t pause the game itself, preserving the gaming experience. An AudioMob ad can have audio up to 30 seconds long, with an accompanying banner size of 320×50. 

The AudioMob team claims that serving an audio and visual unit together – their “audio-enhanced banners” – has never been done before. Thus, while the audio part creates a connection and awareness for the song, the accompanying banner can drive users to DSPs, websites, merch etc.

Read the full Tools piece here: AudioMob

Fan Engagement: Colabox

There’s a lot of ways to drive both attention and consumption towards an artist’s music: campaign activations like micro-games, listening parties, UGC campaigns, or competitions are all keenly sought by marketers. However, creating them can be a time-consuming or costly process – or simply beyond the skillset of the team. Colabox wants to change this by offering a platform that aims to enable users to quickly publish all sorts of sticky digital campaigns.

Founder Richard Summers says: “Other solutions take three weeks to build, Colabox takes a few hours for in-house designers and 20 minutes to create.” It’s a ‘build anything yourself’ kind of tool, allowing the creation of all the activations mentioned above. Promotions are streaming-focused and the platform is agnostic, working with all major streaming providers that have the capability of synchronising their players with the platform.

Colabox says that nine out of the world’s top ten streaming artists use their platform. If you’re an independent or major label interested in using Colabox, you can reach out to Kirsty via for more information.

Read the full Tools piece here: Colabox

Influencer Marketing: Zebr

After having first launched in late 2020, i​nfluencer marketing tool Zebr launched some valuable updates in 2021 and achieved its first #1 song on TikTok’s trending chart for a campaign with Warner Music.

Zebr allows artists and their representatives to submit music to influencers and content creators at the fraction of a cost of working with an agency. The tool now allows influencers to set their own pricing for TikTok and Reels – while marketers can submit lower offers, add creative direction, any hashtags that should be associated with the post, a date for posting, or any reference URLs. Zebr, which is completely free to use, has built a live active community of influencers across TikTok and Instagram Reels in multiple niches which helped them achieve their viral hit for MIST feat. Burna Boy.

The data the team has collected across campaigns allows them to make suitable suggestions for each song and campaign, which they then submit to their influencer network and continue to oversee the whole process. Artist teams then get to brainstorm ideas for the campaign with Zebr who keep them updated with all the content as it’s posted and track the analytics on success. For marketers seeking to create traction on TikTok and Instagram Reels, Zebr is a flexible and budget-friendly solution.

Read the full Tools piece here: Zebr

Catalogue Marketing: Westcott

Westcott is a platform that automatically advertises catalogue music: it generates Facebook and Instagram ads, identifies audiences, tracks industry signals, figures out best market pricing, makes ad buys, and provides real-time reporting.

These advertisements are based on organic events taking place (e.g. holidays, playlist additions, viral videos) and increased fan activity. Kristin Grant, who previously oversaw global playlist strategies at UMG, founded Westcott in 2017. She felt compelled to create a tool like Westcott when she saw that “across all labels, big and small, the volume of data available in the marketplace was too high for any individual marketer to process manually, and to make informed marketing decisions not only across priority and new releases but across the whole catalogue. In fact, most marketing agencies rely on you to tell them what artists to market and how much you want to spend.”

Westcott continuously identifies and monitors industry signals – social media data, streaming data, merch sales, ticket sales, Shazam data – and if the platform identifies a spike in attention or increased awareness around an artist or release, it will automatically launch an ad campaign to capitalise on this moment. Each campaign will target the audience that was paying attention, as well as similar audiences. Grant says: “Westcott automatically spins up an ad for the artist in your catalogue before you even realise you need to launch a campaign for that artist in the first place.”

Read the full Tools piece here: Westcott

Music Videos: Rotor

In an age where artists and their teams need a constant output of visual content for an increasing amount of releases on a growing number of platforms, Rotor has a clear value proposition. With the click of a button, and at a very small cost, you can output any visual asset needed: music videos, visualisers, lyric videos, karaoke videos, vertical videos, and Spotify Canvases.

A few years ago, the Rotor team saw an opportunity in helping artists and rightsholders maximise the revenue they could generate from YouTube. Alex Branson of Rotor explains: “I first came across Rotor in 2016. At that time labels were starting to realise how much money they could be making on YouTube. But for this, you need to own video assets, instead of just fingerprinting the audio as this brings in an extra 10%. And with any priority release now setting out up to 25+ different assets, this becomes a costly and time-consuming process.”

It’s pretty easy to get started with Rotor and to create different visuals with no upfront cost – you’ll only get charged once you decide to download one of the assets. The barrier to entry for creating video content on Rotor is very low, which makes it a great choice for any type of artist. The company also works with different types of labels, including all the majors. For labels, Rotor is a solution that makes the creation of videos faster and cheaper, solving their volume problem – not only for the constant releases and visuals being churned out by frontline artists – but for labels buying up catalogues which quickly have to appear on YouTube.

Read the full Tools piece here: Rotor

Music Ally’s next Learn Live webinar will help you understand what’s required for artists to thrive in new international markets!

Marlen Hüllbrock

Marlen HüllbrockHead of Marketing & Audience

Music Ally's Head of Marketing & Audience

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