After record labels and tech giants, now startup accelerators want a piece of the music business

Room to grow.
Room to grow.
Image: Reuters/Joe Penney
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Spotify, a modest Swedish company, started small in 2006, and has since grown into a global juggernaut inspiring dozens of similar on-demand music services from some of the biggest tech companies in the world. Now that subscription streaming has solidified into the mainstream, though, what’s next?

“It’s about time for Spotify’s successor to be born,” says Bob Moczydlowsky. “A decade is a long time for any kind of platform.” Moczydlowsky is currently in charge of Techstars Music, a new program announced last week from major startup incubator Techstars. Yes, Silicon Valley is growing impatient—again.

The new Techstars program—whose applications are open now and which formally kicks off in February 2017—is on the lookout for unique, emerging startups that offer crucial new innovations in the way people buy, listen to, or otherwise experience audio.

The program is not the only one out there. In the UK, startup accelerator programs like Abbey Road Red and Marathon Labs are currently scoping out viable new music businesses, and the Nashville-based Project Music has already funded more than a dozen music startups in the US.

“Music is under-invested in for a reason: It’s a tough category to make money in,” Moczydlowsky tells Quartz. “And there are a lot of music startups that are very similar. [But] we’re not looking for those companies.”

Instead, Moczydlowsky—formerly Twitter’s head of music—and his team are seeking startups that are working on some sort of “interesting problem.” Examples of such problems, he says, could include audio in the virtual-reality space, music in the gaming industry, and social music sharing, all of which are areas currently being ignored by most major music companies.

Moczydlowsky has personal experience with music innovation, having partnered with longtime industry executive Lyor Cohen’s company 300 Entertainment to develop data-parsing tools for identifying new talent and trends within music while he was at Twitter.

Though the idea never got far beyond the planning stage, players across the industry expressed interest in data-driven music analysis. Now’s the chance for any budding entrepreneur to make this work.