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Unseen Crescendo: The explosion of MusicTech

Are you aware of how integral technology has become to music production and, therefore, to our music experiences? From its creation to our consumption, things are now very different from what they used to be even just a couple of years ago. 

While the increasing utilisation of technology in music is nothing new, its impact has become more visible and transformative in recent times, particularly with the acceleration of AI. This further shift makes previously unseen trends more visible, accessible, and impactful. Basically, every facet of music is experiencing this remarkable crescendo, heralding new scenarios.

In the past few weeks, Meta introduced MusicGen, an AI-powered tool that converts text into audio, marking its foray into Google’s similar AI offering, MusicLM. Meanwhile, Spotify made headlines when it removed thousands of AI-generated tracks shared by an AI startup called Boomy. This action highlighted the growing presence of AI in music production and sparked a conversation about the ethical and legal boundaries of this technology in creative spaces.

Even the Grammy Awards, one of the world’s leading music competitions, established new guidelines for AI-generated music. The rules now state that only ‘human creators’ can be eligible for awards, effectively acknowledging AI’s growing influence and potential controversy in the music world. And these are just some of the most discussed MusicTech news, but the list can go on and on.

Exploring the influence of European founders and startups in music technology

European founders and startups are playing an increasingly significant role in this field. A number of them are making a noticeable impact. Take, for instance, the Helsinki-based Yousician, which is arguably the leading online platform for learning new musical instruments. With four rounds of funding with a total amount of over €30M under their belt, Yousician is a growing force in this sector. But it’s not the only case, as the range of innovative companies focused on music is vast enough to fill an entire book.

Even just focusing on Paris, one of the pivotal hubs for MusicTech in Europe, reveals an array of groundbreaking startups. MatchTune, for example, is offering AI-powered audio & video tools for content creators & music industry professionals; Groover, enables artists to easily distribute their music to curators, blogs, radios, and music professionals; Stage11, which is “reimagining music for the metaverse,” creates a new way to experience music by combining gaming, mixed reality, and digital collectables; Qobuz, offers high-resolution music in streaming, and is particularly appreciated among audiophiles.

This list barely scratches the surface of the European MusicTech ecosystem, but it illustrates one key point: these startups are not only growing robustly, but they’re also starting to play a prominent role in the global landscape.

AI, startups and music innovation: insights from Sónar+D

The Sónar+D conference, a key part of the Sónar festival’s 30th-anniversary edition, drew in an audience of 3,500 industry professionals and thought leaders. The conference acted as a vibrant confluence of arts, music, science, and technology, placing special emphasis on exploring the intersection of artificial intelligence with music and audiovisual media.

The attendees were privy to insights from globally recognised figures in AI and arts. Kate Darling, a distinguished MIT Media Lab researcher in robot ethics, provided a fascinating peek into the future of human-robot relationships presented by SEIDOR. On the other hand, CJ Carr, an authority on AI in music, explained how he employs AI as a composition tool.

But it was the MusicTech Pitch session presented by Barcelona MusicTech Hub and MusicTech Europe where we had the opportunity to learn about some other MusicTech startups worth checking out.

Project area at Sonar+D 2023 in Barcelona.

Take, for example, Aulart, an ed-tech startup based in Barcelona. Aulart has developed an online educational platform that offers valuable learning resources for those interested in the music industry. By subscribing, users gain access to a comprehensive library of masterclasses and live courses. These lessons are provided by renowned music professionals – like producers, sound engineers, etc. – offering an in-depth understanding of various aspects of the music world.

If Aulart is specifically focused on music production, different is the case of Motmo.pro, another ed-tech startup, based in Bilbao, which goal is to teach you how to play songs – but also to help artists monetise their work, as they can upload their songs videos to automatically generate music sheets and earn royalties from people like you willing to learn how to play those tunes.

Another startup capturing our attention has been the Bath-based Daft Springer. This startup operates at the intersection of music and fintech, offering a distinctive solution for artists seeking funding. Through Daft Springer’s model, musicians can secure funding via revenue-sharing contracts. This means they receive the upfront financial support they need to continue their work, while also retaining their valuable music rights.

A different story, yet equally captivating, was the one presented by Sylvain Martineau, the founder of Hall Up, a startup currently part of eWorks Accelerator 23, a four-month acceleration program led by Esade. Hall Up elevates home recording to professional heights by connecting artists with curated studios and premium audio engineers for remote production services.

Indeed, the array of innovations found under one roof at the Sónar+D conference is truly remarkable, isn’t it?

What’s next?

As we venture further into this new era of MusicTech, it’s evident that we are only beginning to tap into the profound potential that lies ahead. The European MusicTech startup scene serves as a testament to the accelerating integration of technology into the music industry, which is teeming with boundless possibilities.

The shift currently taking place is altering how music is made and consumed and challenging traditional perspectives on its value and the methods of its monetisation. In this scenario, European artists, and entrepreneurs play a significant role in shaping the future of music, setting the stage for a symphony of transformation that will resonate far beyond the confines of concert halls and recording studios.

With this unseen crescendo of innovation, one thing is sure – a significant part of the future’s soundtrack will be tech-infused. So, stay tuned, and keep an ear out for the new rhythms, harmonies, and melodies that are yet to come, as the world of MusicTech is just starting to hit its stride.

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Alessandro Ravanetti
Alessandro Ravanetti
Alessandro Ravanetti is a writer and editor based in Barcelona. He helps startups with their content strategy, curates the Techstars Startup Digest's fintech newsletter, serves as an independent expert for EU projects, and mentors aspiring changemakers with Bridge for Billions.

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