Music Techpitch 4.5
Music Techpitch 4.5 run by @2Pears is the music industry version of the more general Techpitch4.5 event. Today’s event was very broad, stretching from consumer media sales to a SaaS platform for touring bands, and finally some sheet music apps for kids learning to play instruments.
GigOwl ( @GigOwlApp ) is an online booking system for artists, and way presented by Anthony Bliss. Their business model is brilliantly simple – but they forgot to mention it during their pitch. By providing an ESCROW service, they assure venues and promoters that the artist will be professional, and they assure artists of payment. Despite the ‘slight’ omission from the pitch, the business was still interesting, as the 2-sided marketplace model is a good cash cow (if you get it right). As always, the challenge is growth – and that’s where the ECROW comes in. By reassuring both sides of the market, eveyrone’s got an incentive to use it. It’s a brilliant idea, and IMO deserved a place on the podium. Perhaps a mention of the ESCROW would have secured one?
Vivo music software was a system for helping kids with the grunt work of learning to play an instrument. Learning scales is a miserable experience, and Thomas Borwick reckoned he had the solution. I liked the simple business model, which works by providing an inexpensive ‘power up’ for music lessons. These already cost middle-class parents an arm and a leg. With such a clear benefit to users (who are already willing to pay) it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a route to market.
Rotor ( @RotorVideos ) is a system for making music videos. Diarmud Moloney didn’t do much to address my concerns about the ‘sameyness’ which is a big risk with such production tools. Music videos are generally reliant on a high degree of novelty. Further, there wasn’t anything ready to show, so it left me searching for the ‘wow’ factor. If the tool works well, I’m sure it could be commercially successful – but I really couldn’t tell whether I was looking at a diamond or a lump of coal.
David d’Atri of Soundreef gave a pitch which confused the judges (and me). @Soundreef was promoted as a royalty-collection tool. This market is unfamiliar to me, and remained so after his pitch. However, after a short trip round the houses, it seemed like he was actually pitching a Muzak competitor. The judges were left as baffled as I was, but gave some support for a piped-music solution.
SoundTrackToYour was pitched as a system for finding music which works well for different situations, thus aiding music discovery. The assumption seemed to be that what I like to jog to, you will also like to jog to. The main problem with this business seems to be that this assumption isn’t reliable. You might like running to ‘Eye of the Tiger’, I might like The Black Eyed Peas. There didn’t seem to be a way back for @soundtracktoyour from here, but Phil Smith soldiered on. Without a clear understanding of user experience and big data, this business seems in need of a serious rethink.
Spontly was presented by Jim Mann. It’s a system for aggregating user-generated content from gigs and other live events, in much the same way as a twitter #hashtag works. The end result is something which is much richer than a hashtag, much more permanent, and doesn’t infuriate all your twitter followers who aren’t “Absolutely luvvvin #Jay-Z “ for the 11th time in a 15 minute period. However, I think the @Spontly team have slightly missed the mark, as this app is probably a more urgent need for conferences, where notes, slides, etc. can be easily shared – and comments & feedback can be both managed in real-time and kept for posterity. Time will tell how people end up using this, and whether the various use cases can be monetized. However, the product seemed to fill a real hole, so my guess is that Spontly might be around for a fair while…
The Backscratchers were presented by Jody Orsborn, the only female presenter of the night. Their labour marketplace for the creative industries was a favourite of audience and judges, and she walked off with a double win. The premise of the @back_scratchers is that you often need to find a roadie/photographer/lighting designer in a hurry, and this kind of entertainment labour doesn’t fit well into comparable platforms. This seems a pretty logical premise to me, which is why they’re well on their way to completing a funding round after surviving the rigours of Springboard accelerator. A sensible business model, and a logical market to pursue. No-one can complain that this prize wasn’t fairly awarded.
TourManagement was presented by Roeland Veugelen, and aimed to provide a central database of information for everyone involved in a tour. Keeping everyone informed as to the venue, hotel, showtimes, etc. is inevitably going to be a nuisance if you’re relying on email. Having a simple online platform to keep this tedious-but-necessary information organised is a massive hassle-saver. The benefits were clear to the audience, and to various bands from Bastille to Basement Jaxx, who all use the app to organise their tours. There appear to be opportunities in a wide range of verticals for an app like this – everything from comedy to conferences will face similar issues. This is a niche business which makes good sense and is the kind of thing I love to be involved in. Their second-place prize was testament to their simple, solid business plan.
Finally, the strangely-named Weezic was a sheet-music-on-steroids app, which allowed users to play along to backing as they learned their favourite tunes. With a ton of cool features like tuning and tempo adjustment, the experience moved learners from the lonely bedroom to the live band experience. The end result was impressive, and was a natural extension of an idea that I personally had many, many years ago. It was great to see my frustrations finally solved – albeit long after I’d got sick of learning to play! Despite the brilliance of the product, Nicolas Arbogast could have done a lot more to explain how @weezic would be sold and promoted – although he did explain that it would make money by having a marketplace for sheet music.
Compared to other 2Pears events, the venue was somewhat below par. A low ceiling meant that the projector would likely have been obscured for much of the audience– which is a common problem. The quality of the businesses pitching was generally fairly good, but a lot of the pitches themselves could have done with a lot more work. The judges picked up on this, expressing frustration at the seeming inability of entrepreneurs to explain what exactly it is they do. I couldn’t agree more with their frustration – which applies to a wide range of events, not just to tonight’s offer. If there’s one overarching tip I would give entrepreneurs to improve their pitch, it’s this: **explain what the hell it is you do**! You’d think it was simple, but we see the same problem again and again.
Despite these minor quibbles, I found the event very useful, and I will of course be back next time the 2Pears team run a techpitch event.