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Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge sat in on the MidemNet Lab Pitch Session this morning, there 15 handpicked digital music startups showed off their services. Read on for the full low-down on MIDEM’s rising online stars!

2010’s hottest digital music startups – according to a panel of industry judges – gave presentations this morning, showcasing their technology and services. Topspin CEO Ian Rogers hosted the event and explained that the idea was partly to spotlight “companies that in a lot of cases probably wouldn’t be here without this programme”.

Every company is getting five minutes for their presentation, so it promises to be rapidfire. Kicking off with…

AVIARY

Aviary is a suite of online tools that help graphic artists and musicians to create their artworks online, in the browser – as well as collaborating. It has 800,000 members, with 30,000 new bits of content being created every day.

The tools include an image editor, visual effects editor and a vector drawing tool, but it’s Myna that’s relevant to MidemNet. It’s an audio editor and mixer, and a remix contest engine that’s completely cloud-based – all users’ files are stored in the cloud.

Users can upload content, tag it and add metadata, with full creative commons licensing to cover the sharing and collaboration. The site hooks into Soundcloud’s API. Meanwhile, the remix contests engine lets bands turn their tracks into stems, which can be made
available for fans to remix. It’s been working with bands like Delphic, Major Lazer and Wolfmother.

Meanwhile, Aviary has an API allowing bands to use its suite of tools on their website, with all the content then flowing back into the main Aviary site.

AWDIO

Awdio is a streaming music service that lets people listen to clubs and DJ sets live, broadcast from the venues. It can also work with bars and shops. It takes music from 180 sources, and broadcasts around 3,000 events a month.

The company’s participating venues are all over the world, and it aims to go for all genres of music. Currently it’s about 80% electronic music and the rest hip-hop, rock and jazz. It installs an AwdioBox in clubs, which can stream music at 128-190 Kbps, or record
sets at 320 Kbps.

In 2010, it plans to release new features, starting with a software broadcast for professional festivals. It will also be launching time-shifted archives in March. It’s working on an iPhone app that will come out in a couple of months’ time.

Awdio is free for clubs at a basic level, with the service supported by ads. However, it also has a VIP service where users pay per channel, and get unlimited access to the archives. Meanwhile, it costs labels from 90 Euros a month to install and maintain the
service.

What’s in it for them? They get more visibility, but also a share of the revenues based on traffic and pricing lists. Awdio is also looking to work with brands to sponsor individual venues and Awdio pages. Advertisers can add Awdio widgets to their own sites and
social networking profiles.

BANDCENTRAL

BandCentral is an online collaboration and organisation tool for bands and their managers, handling everything from touring and finances through to social networking activity. The idea is to help bands to co-ordinate the various activities involved in the modern
music industry.

Features include internal messageboards for band-specific communication, a shared band calendar with email and SMS alerts, the ability to sync social networks from the band hub – one click to update Facebook, MySpace and Twitter – and there’s a central file
repository for everything from downloads, artwork and contracts.

The finance manager covers revenue and expenses in an easy-to-track way, while the Gigs & Tours section pulls in all the info needed around live gigs. There’s a music and merchandise section too, to cover products being sold, including tracking sales
and stock information for physical goods.

It also has a contacts manager for industry contacts, as well as a fan manager that manages the band’s fan database, with a widget to capture details from fans on the band’s website. The service is freemium – it’s free for 30 days, and then free-and-ad-supported, or
there’s a paid professional version for £4.99 a month.

BAND METRICS

Band Metrics is next up, just a couple of hours after releasing its public beta at MIDEM. It’s a ‘data analytics and decision support system’ for the music industry – it collects data on how people are listening to music, and makes sense of it.

So it segments a band’s fans from the hardcore down to casual listeners. It identifies where a band is and isn’t getting radio plays, and also offers social analytics – comments and status updates about an artist across the various social networks.

This year it’s aiming to help artists understand how people feel about their music, as well as introducing sales corrections and social forensics. As part of the demo, they showed the interface for some of this data, which is displayed on a map – helping to
understand where a band is getting radio plays, or where there are hotspots of fan activity on Twitter.

The fan segmentation feature has just launched, measuring the influence and keenness of individual fans, based on their online activity, and helping bands to cultivate those relationships.

DIGICLEF

Digiclef is a startup that’s bringing sheet music to iPhones. Configurable guitar tabs for the iPhone, as applications. Users can change the tempo to suit their skill when learning to play a track, skip to different sections, and set up loops.

The tabs are all licensed and legal, from the publishing house – they’re not soundalikes. The company is selling publishers on the idea of these apps as brand new revenue streams. Existing examples are for bands like Green Day, REM, Muse and Pink Floyd.

The company’s free app – which offers basic guitar lessons – is being downloaded more than 1,000 times a day, providing a customer base that will soon be able to buy the tabs using in-app payments. Hundreds of songs have been sold through it so far, with sales
increasing every month.

Digiclef is adding audio integration soon, for people who have the music on their phone to match the tabs. It’s looking at doing chord books, and integrating video. And it’s received a grant to investigate taking the idea to Android as well.

GOMIX

GoMix is an interactive music format, designed to allow fans to remix and share songs by major artists. The idea: pressing play on a piece of music isn’t enough any more – fans want to get more interactive with it.

It uses audio stems, which are presented in a browser-based Flash interface, with coloured blocks that can be dragged around, or clicked on and off. Users can share their remixes on the usual social networks, and GoMix is also tying in with a number of artist
websites.

The company has seen up to 40,000 people remixing songs by a single band. It works with labels and managers, creating the song and hosting it on its servers. It’s 100% browser-based – nothing is downloaded, which the company says heads off piracy fears.

The average user spends around 16 minutes remixing a three-minute songs. Hundreds of mixes have been streamed more than 100,000 times by other users. 125,000 active remixers are on the site, and by late 2010 the company is aiming to add 50 new songs a month from big bands.

How do they make moeny? Advertising and sponsorship – it’s worked
with Burger King in the USA on remixes for Flo Rida and other artists. Other brands include Vodafone, Dr Pepper and Lionsgate Pictures. However, the company is about to launch a virtual goods store – selling access to GoMix – “to become the musical Farmville”. People will be able to buy access to mix a song for £1, and buy their mixes for £1.25, or gift them to friends. Labels get a 60% share of the proceeds of this.

KICKSTARTER

Kickstarter was set up to try and breach the “huge chasm” between artists and fans. The company helps artists fund their projects by raising money from fans. He cited the example of Alison Weiss, who raised money to make an EP within ten hours, by offering
rewards. That included making a mixtape for fans who paid certain amounts, or writing a song for them.

So it’s about artists creating their own economy – deciding how to reward their fans for participating in whatever they want to make. It’s not just a music site – it’s anything artistic.

The presentation was short but sweet, if you’re wondering why this section is shorter than the previous pitches…

POPS

Pops is a Vietnamese company that sells music. The country has an 87-million-strong population, of whom 65% are under the age of 35, with music rated as the top passion among young people. And the country is one of the 18th most active users of the internet
globally, and one of the most active in terms of mobile music usage.

So, the company started for those reasons, but also to try and combat rampant music piracy in Vietnam. Pops focused on three areas – internet, mobile and kiosks. It started by promoting ringtones and ringback tone purchases online – it advertises on illegal download
sites, with a pop-up inviting people to buy the ringback tone when they search for a song.

It installed kiosks in shops, where people can discover new music, and then buy it. Pops is also distributing Vietnamese music elsewhere in the world, selling thousands of tracks through iTunes.

RADIONOMY

Radionomy is an online radio service, which lets people create and manage their own radio stations – with access to music, jingles, news and weather reports. People can upload whatever content they want – including their own music. It covers all the costs, including
streaming and rights, inserting a maximum of four minutes of ads an hour to pay for it.

It has more than 5,000 radios, broadcasting more than 200,000 hours of streaming radio a day. It’s launching a new application that integrates their RSS and Facebook feeds into their radio station. This uses text-to-speech, so when the user is listening to their
radio station, a status message can pop up and be read to them – but only in between tracks.

The company will launch in France in February, and is looking for deals in other markets to integrate its technology into other people’s services. And it’s also looking to work with artists, labels and brands to have their own radio stations too.

SILENCE MEDIA

Silence is a new advertising network for video banner ads, with a model based around cost per engagement. It places video ads on sites, but advertisers only pay when a user rolls over them and actively watches the content – a music video in this case.

It worked on a campaign for Kings of Leon last year for Sony Music Entertainment, which it says alleviated fears in the industry about the lack of accountability for video advertising nline. It claims to have delivered savings of more than 50% compared to traditional campaigns.

Viacom was the first big publisher to join Silence’s network, but it now has more than 800 sites signed on. It reckons that its Cost Per Engagement is the most effective way to advertise for labels looking to do video banners. It’s working with various artists, and
has a deal with Beggars Group – and ran a video ad for the new Vampire Weekend album recently.

SONGKICK

Songkick is a service that aims to build a community around live music. It started to try and solve a problem – missing a band live because you didn’t know they were playing, or couldn’t get tickets before they sold out.

The company has an iTunes plug-in, which scans a user’s iTunes
library, and then tracks the bands in their collection, with email alerts when one of them is coming to town. It claims to have the most efficient database of concert information in the world, crawling more than 70 ticket vendors around the world.

More than $3 million of tickets were bought through Songkick last year, apparently. And then after the gigs, fans can upload content from those gigs – photos for example, videos, setlists or reviews. Every gig tracked by the company has its own page on Songkick – a
permanent record of events. Its database goes back to 1956, with more than 1.3 million gigs.

100,000 setlists have been added in the last six months alone, and Songkick has an API to let other sites pull in its data.

STREAMJAM

StreamJam is a virtual concert venue created by The Electric Sheep Company, which started life as a virtual worlds design agency. The platform is offered to bands for free, allowing them to host virtual gigs, with fans creating avatars and attending, as well as inviting friends on Twitter and Facebook. Virtual goods are a big part of the
service too.

The service has been designed to be easy to use. Bands schedule an event, which can be live or pre-recorded, set their ticket price, and create and sell virtual merchandise. StreamJam works with livestreaming company Ustream, to ensure there are no bandwidth costs for the artists.

Bands can make money from ticket sales or tipjars, the virtual merchandise, or link through to real-world merchandise. Fans can buy music, and The Electric Sheep says it’s working on sponsorship ideas too, to get brands involved.

The platform is a Flash widget that can be embedded on any site, but there’s a Facebook app as well, with a MySpace app on the way.

THESIXTYONE

Thesixtyone blends game mechanics and music listening/discovery, founded by a games designer who grew disillusioned with traditional console games. The idea: to create a site that will encourage people to explore music.

Users get a ‘reputation bar’ which measures how prolific they are in recommending music to other people. Every day they get votes to allocate to songs on the site, to help people find the good stuff. But there are also ‘quests’ that encourage people to perform certain
tasks – listen to music in a new genre for example, or the first five tracks posted after 4am that morning.

Plus there’s an Xbox Live-style achievements system – badges to reward specific activity levels. The average user spends around 15 hours a week listening to music on the site.

TRACKS & FIELD

Tracks & Fields is a music production network that aims to help musicians and producers find the right partners for their projects. So artists can find likeminded musos and collaborate on music using the tools provided by the site.

It has a library of pre-cleared loops and samples, and is now selling premium samples from established artists and DJs. It’s launching this week, with artists including Wolfmother and Bomb The Bass launching remix projects.

The company wants producers to join its community and request music that they need – which doesn’t cost the producer anything, and they don’t have to pay if no users come up with what they want. Labels can use it as a promotional opportunity for remix contests, as
well as selling an artist’s loops and beats.

TUNEWIKI

TuneWiki is a company focused on helping the industry make money from the lyrics that online, a lot of people are getting for free. It claims to be the only mobile app with fully licensed lyrics, that are displayed in time to the music that the user is playing at the time.

It’s been downloaded more than five million times to date, and is available on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian handsets, as well as Java, Linux, PC and Mac versions. It also has more than 600,000 people contributing lyrics.

Lyrics are translated into local languages, pulling them down from TuneWiki’s servers. The company also says its app is a great discovery tool for music, because users can access a map to see what other people around them are listening to.

It makes money from ads, subscriptions, and embedding deals with handset firms. And it’s now working to add games around lyrics, actively licensing lyrics and music masters for a game called Lyrics Legend – it takes any track, and within half an hour turns it into a
mobile game. It’ll launch in April 2010, and will help fans to learn the lyrics to their favourite songs in an interactive way.

Phew! And that’s a wrap – all 15 companies one after another. All 15 will be pitching again tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday at the MidemNet Lab area in Hall 01, while the companies will also be holding one-to-one meetings there, which you can sign up for at the booth.


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About Author

Stuart Dredge

Stuart Dredge is a freelance journalist, and a regular contributor to Music Ally, The Guardian and more... including midemblog :)

3 Comments

  1. Thesixtyone.com doesn’t care about its users and many of us are moving on.
    A website is only worth its hits, and if you don’t care about the people that go to your site everyday you shouldn’t expect them to come back.
    I used to be on that site for at least 8 hours a day.

  2. First time MidemNet’r from Australia.
    Loved Cannes… and loved the conference.
    Like several people I spoke with, the ‘MidemNet Lab Pitch Session’ was the highlight of the show.
    I spoke with as many of the companies that spoke at the session as was able (many were booked solid through to the close of the show) and look forward to following up with several of them on opportunities for their services/products in my region.

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