Music TechPitch 4.5 is the only regular music technology investment event I’ve ever come across. This kind of thing exemplifies why London is such a great investment ecosystem. The abundance of specialised events such as this means that firms here have better connections and a better chance than they would have in other regions or countries. There’s no point trying to build tech ecosystems elsewhere. Just come to where the action is.
EY (the accountancy firm formerly known as Ernst & Young) provided not only the venue, but also a veritable tsunami of pizza and (shockingly) salad. It’s a risky experiment feeding vegetables to techies, and I dread to think what harm it may have caused.
Unlike many events, the keynotes were really good. I was particularly engaged by the Steve Lewis talk, who was one of the earlier members of the Virgin team. He spoke with passion about the importance of reputation, and why bureaucracy suffocates the life out of the music industry.
One of the best concepts of the night was @exaget – which I’ve had the privilege to get to know well in recent months. Their concept is simple and brilliant – take the dull, standardised ads out of online radio streams, and replace them with ones tailored just for you. Sadly, the gloriously-named Shankar Meembat didn’t quite convey the beauty and simplicity of this idea, or its raw commercial power, and came away without a gong for his efforts.
@blitzrdotcom had a concept which is perhaps a little like songdrop, but with more intelligent search. Instead of relying on users to select music online, and then going to find free-to-access versions of the track, Blitzr uses intelligent search to find what you *might* be looking for, rather than an exact match to a track name. Bertrand Sebenne presented this one, but I personally felt he could have put a little more focus on the USP.
@capsulefm won the judges’ gold, and the audience silver. It’s a voice-navigated music sharing and discovery app, for all those times when you’re plugged in, but not hands free. Whether biking, jogging or just carrying your lunch, there are times when you’re loving the music, but just not able to get your phone out. Personally, the only time I ever talk to my phone OS is when I’m trying to find tracks. Likely, these guys have hit on a use case that makes Siri make sense, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with in terms of traction.
@meetandjam took the judges’ silver for their studio booking solution. My personal feeling is that an online solution to book studio space isn’t a sufficiently large problem to need a specialist service. There’s rarely a need to book studios at short notice, and call handling is a small part of the cost of a relatively pricey service. This information wasn’t lost on Nick Ford-Young, and our follow up discussions centred on the opportunity to pivot towards an AirBnB model for informal recording and practice space. Doubtless, a garage with a drumkit and a guitar amp is a more niche commodity than a spare room, but it’s nevertheless one that people do want – and that’s potentially the basis of a commercial model.
@music_gateway are an online HR outfit, centred on music projects. This is where you might go if you want to find someone to produce a track, or play banjo as a session musician. It’s a very specific focus, which may end up being a commercial dead end. However, Phil Carr is confident that the market is big enough to sustain the business as a commercial proposition. Personally, I’d like to see a broader market of creative projects, and not just music – which may be too small a sector to support such a specialist proposition.
@nagualsounds was presented by Matthias Strobel. This was genuinely cool technology, which allowed you to dance, and create music as you did so. There’s always a startup on the scene which is pushing an ever-more novel and creative way to make music. This may well not be a particularly commercial proposition, but it shows where the boundaries of technology lie. And maybe, just maybe, this could be as big as Guitar Hero. Watch this space.
For music tech investment, there’s only one place to go. Keep your eyes out for the next date from @2_pears