Dr Arun Castro, medical director at Roadie Medic, is the inaugural winner of the Music Ally NEXT Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Held this week at our NEXT conference in London, the award was backed by Universal Music Group, and was our celebration of the next wave of music-tech founders. Roadie Medic is a clinic for touring, doing tele-led consultations while on the road, to help musicians and their teams avoid burnout and stay healthy. Its ambitions are to be the London base for any significant touring band: artists come to the clinic, get a health check and optimised for a tour – and then Roadie Medic is available for the rest of the tour on demand online, and then in a post-tour recap.
The Young Entrepreneur of the Year award session was lead by Casandra Strauss, Director, New Digital Business & Innovation, Universal Music Group and Paul Brindley, the CEO & Co-Founder of Music Ally. Nominees needed to be working in the music tech space, and, Brindley revealed, there were hundreds of high quality applicants. Strauss explained how the finalists would get step by step support from UMG’s digital innovation team – and this team has now evaluated and mentored over 1500 startups over the last ten years.
The startups all delivered a pitch and took one question and the NEXT attendees then voted for the winner. Here’s a run down of the finalists:
Dr Arun Castro, Medical Director, Roadie Medic
Congratulations, first, to Castro, who pitched as part of a strong lineup of finalists. He explained how he used to be an A&E doctor and worked as a medic at a number of big UK music festivals. Having seen how people were regularly getting ill at the end of a long tour, he set up Roadie Medic: an industry-sensitive clinic that offers consultations while on the road and continuity of care throughout and afterwards – “like for a sports team,” Castro said. It’s also doing pop-up clinics, including for a large stadium-touring band, where Roadie Medic offered physiotherapy, acupuncture and massage for the band’s crew over four days at a major EU stadium. In the future, Roadie Medic aims to launch a tiered subscription-based model.
Ravdeep Anand, Co-Founder, Fairplay
Fairplay deals with sync licensing in India. Anand said that in India, live still accounts for the majority proportion of income for most artists. Sync, however, is a “viable large new income stream,” he said. There is no unified mechanism for sync in India right now, and Fairplay provides music – tagged for specific circumstances and moods – and after a four-step process to determine how the music will be used, a license price is calculated. The music is all pre-cleared, and is from working Indian musicians (he named a number of Indian pop artists FairPlay has deals with, like Divine). Fairplay is also striking deals with ad agencies and brands as part of this process. Anand explained that the company is soon launching a platform to buy and sell beats and clear samples too. The company is country-agnostic, he said: they are striking deals with Mass Appeal and Cherry Red outside of India, for instance.
Jideofor Okoro, Co-Founder & COO, Josplay
Okra explained that Josplay uses “human and artificial intelligence” to improve understanding, discovery and utilisation of African music, and aimed to solve the metadata gap in African music. The problem they are solving, he said, is that poor metadata stops digital music services from reaching its audience. Josplay cleans up the metadata and builds a recommendation system on top of that. It also offers an audio analysis tool, plus automated tagging of the tracks, and supplies a custom API for businesses to plug into.
African music is misunderstood, Okoro said – people are only consuming a small cluster of African music because DSPs are only able to supply and understand a certain amount of music on offer. African pop can combine Afrobeats, amapiano and jazz: it’s complex and nuanced – and this knowledge is missing at the moment. He hopes that the platform will help the world get a deeper understanding of African music.
Easnadh Reddington, Co-Founder, Stream by Stream
Reddington is a musician and is passionate about the environmental sector – and Stream By Stream came out of a university project. Stream by Stream helps redirect fan funds to environmental projects by partnering with labels and artists. It then helps promote the artists – and artists donate a percentage of their funds to projects that are partnering with Stream by Stream. Fans, she said, are eager for artists and the music industry to do more to support climate initiatives. The company will create a platform and community and allow artists to be climate-active. Participation is flexible: when artists are on tour, they can contribute more to offset emissions, for example. The industry can use the platform’s tool to offset carbon and get carbon credits. Of the percentage of income that the artists pays towards climate initiatives, 40% goes to Stream By Stream to cover their costs – but this will be reduced to 10% in the future. That 40% share is used at the moment to grow the reach of the company and to scale it up. Stream by Stream currently has 130,000 users, with many smaller artists engaged – but they are seeking larger artists to get involved.
Lewis Crosbie, CEO & Co-Founder, Komi
Komi is a smartlink storefront that unites a number of functions and channels into one, fully-personalised store. It’s built for musicians but is used by sports stars as well – and is currently working with over 1000 artists, including Lizzo, Usher, Elton John, and Meghan Trainor. Komi integrates with DSPs, social platforms, and social commerce platforms, and has a smartlink functionality and built-in pre-save function. It works with Bands In Town and Seated, and a Meta or TikTok pixel can be integrated in the page for analytics too. Komi charges $10pm for access to use the storefront, and the platform takes a small percentage of completed sales. Komi raised a $11m seed round last year.
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