Bob Moczydlowsky thinks he’s found the dozen most fascinating new ideas in music.
Moczydlowsky, formerly Twitter’s head of music, is the first-ever managing director of Techstars Music—a startup accelerator program launched last year out of the broader talent accelerator Techstars. Applications were sought from promising music-related startups from October to December, and the program this week announced its first class of winners, which will each receive $120,000 and three months of mentorship in Los Angeles.
Techstars Music’s first crop of startups are as follows:
|Startup||What it does|
|Amper||Allows editors, media publishers, and influencers to instantly compose low-cost, royalty-free music with AI, to be used in videos or other professional content.|
|Hurdl||Provides unique LED wearables for live events that will give artists and event planners a one-to-one communication network with fans and ticket-holders.|
|JAAK||Uses blockchain technology to connect music, metadata, and rights information, ultimately looking to build a streamlined blockchain-based rights management system.|
|Pacemaker||Provides a simple mixtape creation platform, allowing for sharing across multiple streaming services.|
|Pippa||Enables targeted ads to be delivered dynamically in podcasts—or removed, for premium subscription models.|
|PopGun||Measures data from streaming services and uses it to train AI to write new music that matches consumer habits.|
|Robin||Reserves and secures tickets on behalf of fans while providing real-time demand data to artists and event organizers.|
|Shimmur||Lets fans connect with artists by creating content and inviting artists and influencers to react, flipping the traditional social media model around.|
|Superpowered||Provides real-time audio rendering for games, VR, and music/interactive audio apps on mobile and wearable devices.|
|SyncSpot||Uses an AI assistant to create and fulfill media rewards (.e.g, a free music subscription) for in-store retail promotions.|
|Weav||Makes adaptive music via an artist remix console, supplying biometric-driven music to workout apps, dance studios, and exercise equipment makers.|
Later this spring, these startups—which range from ambitious companies spearheaded by ex-Google leaders to small, nascent ideas, and are based in cities around the globe—will present their projects to the public.
“We’ve got a diverse set of people making things that could make the entire music business better for everybody,” Moczydlowsky tells Quartz. “They’re all solving a specific problem that, if solved, will create a bunch of opportunity or value.”
The point isn’t to find the next Spotify or the next Apple Music, he says, but to locate new areas in the industry that are ripe for disrupting. While it’s too early to tell how broad an effect each of the startups’ products will have on artists or listeners, Techstars Music, obviously, has high hopes. Moczydlowsky says the cynicism he expected from VCs hasn’t been there—many also think the time is ripe to invest in the music business.
Part of that slow-building optimism comes from the fact that subscription streaming, now that it’s one of the most popular forms of music consumption, is starting to make some money—causing the first uptick (however slight!) in industry revenue in decades. Because music startups often have to bear enormous licensing costs, investors don’t typically see them as promising opportunities. With overall industry revenues looking up, things seem to finally be shifting on that front.
Moczydlowsky declines to reveal how many groups applied for the first round of Techstars Music, but says the acceptance rate for all of Techstars’ accelerator programs—across the board—is about 1%.