Nov 28, 2017 Christine Osazuwa
Early on the James Brown stage, Amplify Sweden introduced themselves to Slush Music as Sweden’s first music tech startup incubator. Their team comprised of Karl-Michael Cakste, Martin Gemvik, Åsa Otterlund, David Stenmarck and Andreas Liffgarden are industry experts in investing, music and entrepreneurship. Founded this year and partnered with KMH, Swedbank, Stockholm City, Sting and Sony Music, Amplify Sweden already has two companies in their incubator, Stagecast and Gestrument, who did a live demo on the Slush Music stage. “The startup world is still completely new to me”, Gestrument founder Jesper Nordin said. “We’ve had a strong team for several years and we didn’t know where to go with this. That’s why we needed Amplify”
While the concept of incubation isn’t a new one, music technology hasn’t typically been a vertical for incubation. As Jon Eades, Innovation Manager at London-based Abbey Road Studio says, all the usual components are there “when you strip away all the marketing language, we really act as business consultants.”. What really sets them apart is navigating the industry. Åsa Otterlund, CEO of Amplify Sweden says, “as a startup, you don’t have that much time to prove yourself. If you’re trying to prove yourself in an industry that is already hard to understand, you need extra help.” Henric Hungerhoff, co-founder of The Venue Berlin, adds “investors don’t really understand the music industry, this is why we moved into this space”.
Educating the tech community on the music industry is a key component of what music incubators must do. “When people talk about music industry they only think record labels.” Jon Eades says, “and when they think of music startups they think of distribution. Soundcloud, Spotify, etc.” But music tech spans far beyond those narrow ideas. Bob Moczydlowsky, Managing Director of US-based TechStars Music, said on stage “We don’t invest in music companies. we invest in companies solving problems for music.” Bob went on to explain some of the solutions they look for in the 1% of companies they accept to the TechStars Music program, including event security, machine learning, AI, AR, VR, Content Delivery and Infrastructure and eCommerce.
Beyond educating the industry, another value music incubators and accelerators add is the ability to sympathize and understand creatives. Åsa Otterlund said “creatives don’t often know that they’re entrepreneurs.” Jon Eades adds “Artists and musicians are weird people. You can go to a generic incubator, there are lots of them around but… there are certain things you need to know [in music], it’s a strange place.”
On stage, Fred Davis, Partner at The Raine Group, discussed the current stage of the industry. The big players in streaming, Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google are all over 10 years old. The maturity of the market lends itself to incubator and accelerator companies to seek the guidance of those that came before them. “We want to give back to the community, Andreas Liffgarden said. “I’ve gotten a lot of help along the way. I think it’s in the Nordic DNA to want to give back… to help the ecosystem thrive.” The incubators are the place to foster industry innovation, growth and investment. Though not in music, this year, SendGrid, a TechStars alumni company, became the first accelerator grad to IPO anywhere in the world.
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