Techstars Music has revealed the class of 10 startups chosen for its 2023 accelerator program. This year’s class, the program’s seventh, includes companies focused on solving problems for the music business in spheres as varied as gaming, education, fashion and even the wedding industry.
Chosen from hundreds of applicants during a six-month search, the founders will embark on a 13-week mentorship program boasting the participation of roughly 300 executives across the global music business, as well as platform tech executives, venture capitalists and musicians. Unlike previous years, the mentorship program — normally held exclusively in Los Angeles — will instead be spread across three cities: L.A. (week of Jan. 30), New York (week of Feb. 27) and Atlanta (week of March 27), with remote work happening in between. Over that 13 weeks, mentors will help startups refine their products, build their teams and prepare to pitch themselves at the invite-only Techstars Music Venture Summit, which will be hosted as two events: one in L.A. from April 19-20 and the other in New York from April 26-27.
Like so many post-pandemic workplaces these days, Techstars Music opted for a hybrid mentorship model this year in an effort to “have the capital invested in the companies go further,” says managing director Bob Moczydlowsky, who believes that allowing the founders to work remotely for 10 weeks of the program will “result in better product and more runway for those companies as opposed to having them in an office 12 hours a day.”
Moczydlowsky says that taking the accelerator to three different music hubs, rather than keeping to just one, gets the founders “closer to capital” and increases access to music business leaders in those cities. “I feel like we’ve evolved into a much better model for our founders,” he adds.
Techstars Music invests a total of $120,000 in each of the startups, while half are eligible for $60,000 in DEI matching capital from Warner Music and Concord via their WMG Boost and Concord Impact Investment Initiative programs, respectively. In 2020, Techstars Music committed to choosing that at least 50% of selected startups had CEOs from diverse and underinvested backgrounds, with a focus on Black, LGBTQ+ and female founders.
Each year prior to the pandemic, the accelerator culminated in a splashy demo day that saw the chosen startups present their ideas to a room full of industry professionals and potential investors. In 2020, the in-person accelerator was cut short due to COVID-19, with the remainder happening remotely; that was followed by Techstars Music’s first virtual demo day later that year, along with a fully virtual accelerator and demo day in 2021. Last year, the accelerator moved to a hybrid model, while a scaled-down version of demo day — re-branded as Techstars Music Venture Summit — was held in both Los Angeles and New York.
This year, Techstars Music will continue with the summit approach in both cities — what Moczydlowsky describes as “mini-conference(s).” That means that rather than putting on Shark Tank-style presentations to a room of hundreds, the startup founders will convene with a “highly curated group” of 75 to 100 people, Moczydlowsky says, giving accelerator participants “lots of unstructured time” with those in attendance between programming, which will include speakers and, yes, some demo day-style presentations.
“The experience is one of less like ‘I’m pitching and you’re receiving’ and more of ‘We’re all getting to know each other and talking about these things,’” Moczydlowsky adds. “And that creates an environment that’s actually much healthier for fundraising and business development, because you’re not trying to judge something in a high pressure kind of two or three minute presentation or a show.”
Techstars Music is run in partnership with member companies Bill Silva Entertainment, Concord, HYBE, Peloton, MNRK, Quality Control Music, Right Hand Music Group, Sony and Warner Music Group. Executives from all of those companies will be in attendance at both the Los Angeles and New York summits, along with venture investors, artists and founders from previous Techstars Music accelerators.
Since launching in 2017, Techstars Music alumni companies have raised more than $245 million, with a market cap of just under $1 billion. Breakout companies from years past include Endel, Community, Splash, Fave, Blink Identity, Volta XR, 555 Comics, Circle Labs and Replica, while exits include Superpowered (acquired by Splice), Pippa (acquired by Acast), Seated (acquired by Sofar Sounds) and Amper Music (acquired by Shutterstock).
You can find descriptions of all 10 companies in the Techstars Music 2023 class below.
Baton is a collaboration platform that solves chain of custody for work in progress material, ensuring artists are properly credited and compensated for their work. Think of them a bit like GitHub for music.
Since launching a private beta this past fall, Baton has helped connect hundreds of artists with multiple Grammy-winners and has protected the IP of thousands of songs.
The team is a mix of creative technologists from NYU ITP, an “art school for engineers or an engineering school for artists” and industry veterans that have spent over a decade working with many of the largest artists in the world.
Gabe Warshaw, CEO & Founder, Baton said, “The vast majority of music that gets made never gets released. So much of it is incredible, and it’s never been easier to create without a professional studio. At the same time, remote collaboration has left creators increasingly vulnerable to stolen IP. Baton is building an ecosystem that helps musicians find their people. It allows material to be worked on and shared safely with anyone in the world, so creators know that wherever their work ends up, they’ll get credited and compensated in the way they should.”
BEEPR allows fans to opt-in to push notifications about music from their favorite artists, creating ephemeral moments between fans with shared interests. Launched in Summer 2020, BEEPR has garnered 300,000 registered users and 100,000 monthly active users with $0 spent on marketing. BEEPR has helped DSP’s gain over 70 million streams this year. BEEPR’s goal is to create moments in music powered by push notifications.
Jake Zinn, CEO & Founder, BEEPR stated, “Technology has made the music listening experience more convenient. While the streaming services have provided fans what they want to hear, BEEPR provides when they want to hear it.”
Confetti is a content creation and live-streaming app that enables couples to get the most out of their weddings by empowering in-person and virtual guests to create fun and memorable content through custom prompts. Say goodbye to stale photos, videos, and your aunt going live on FaceBook, and say hello to beautiful and unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime, whether you’re seated at Table 8 or 3,000 miles away. With Confetti, you have one less thing to worry about on your big day.
Andrew Vuu, CEO, Confetti, said: “Today, wedding guests are creating amazing content and sharing media, which has generated hundreds of billions of impressions on social platforms. However, the problem is that the only way couples can access this great content is through clunky shared albums or by harassing people via text. Currently, we are revolutionizing the wedding industry by providing social media communities with front-row access to their favorite creators’ biggest day through our platform. We are on track to reach 100 million fans across 10 different countries over the next year and have organically generated over 15 million social media views on our path to transform the wedding experience. We are thrilled to extend the power of Confetti to couples everywhere this summer.”
Five Mics is a digital hip-hop trading card game (think Yugioh or Hearthstone, but with rappers and DJs, not elves and dragons). Players construct their decks based around different card styles and can choose to play either casually with friends or competitively in tournaments. With each win, players can also earn new cards, which they own and can collect, trade, or gift to other players.
The collectible card game market is expected to reach $32B by 2027, and hip-hop (the #1 streaming genre in the US accounting for $2.7B in 2021) is arguably the most popular music genre in the world, influencing Latin Trap, Afrobeats, K-Hip-Hop, and more around the globe. Five Mics is determined to bring the two together in an authentic way never before seen, made by the culture, for the culture.
Ace Patterson, CEO, Five Mics, added: “Go on Twitch right now, and more likely than not you’ll find gamers streaming while playing hip-hop music. That’s the dope thing about hip-hop: it’s truly universal. It’s not just for ‘some’ people – it’s for ALL people. And as someone that’s both a hip-hop artist that loves playing trading card games, I truly believe that combining both worlds will impact culture in a seismic way.”
Haven’s network of event & lifestyle brands host sound-based experiences in stunning outdoor & unconventional indoor spaces. It could be a harpist in a canyon at sunset for Floating or a pioneering composer performing in a historic cathedral for Ambient Church, over 16,000 people gathered with us (in person!) this past year in NYC, LA, Chicago, Portland and Seattle. Other investors include 6lack, Oleg Stavitsky (Co-Founder / CEO, Endel), and Anthony Batt (Founder, SpinMedia).
Brian Schopfel, CEO, Haven, said: “Tech, entertainment and wellness industries have continued to become more algorithmic, reward based, and impersonal; only fueling burnout long term. Haven encourages being vs. doing, inclusion vs. achievement, and IRL vs. URL, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the Techstars Music program to continue to learn, grow and share our experiences with as many people as possible.”
Highly Liquid is a streetwear brand born on the internet: a fashion house that combines both digital and physical worlds to create limited-edition drops of apparel, software, and CPG. Our products are designed to spark meaningful conversations around sexuality, gender, and identity, and their role within the financial landscape.
Izzy Howell, CEO, Highly Liquid, said: “Selling panties on the internet doesn’t really sound like the start of a revolution, but by creating NFTs that can be redeemed for IRL panties that say ‘highly liquid’ on the crotch, we are effectively starting a new wave in streetwear – one that puts hyper-femininity at the forefront of culture.”
HomeRoom is a software platform that unlocks the powerful growth potential of online communities. In the digital age, it’s become increasingly difficult for businesses, creators, and musicians to cut through the noise. HomeRoom provides a suite of tools to enable community leaders to save time with their daily tasks, analytics to measure success, and plugins for hosting memorable community events.
Launched to the public in September 2022, HomeRoom now powers 170+ communities of over 200k combined members and has scaled to $22k MRR with only 70 paying customers. With integrations planned for Twitch, Mastodon, and GitHub by the end of 2023, HomeRoom is building the “Google Analytics for community.”
Arjay Ruggles, CEO, HomeRoom says: ”Audiences are exhausted by the deluge of ads inserted into every aspect of their online experience and have turned to online communities as a source of respite. In response, we’ve seen several companies capitalize on the moment: AirBnB ramped up their community strategy in 2020, cut their marketing spend in half for two years in a row, and have reached a $71 Billion market cap. I believe all businesses and creators should have access to the tools necessary to build the same opportunities for themselves. Community is the future of growth, and HomeRoom is building the foundation upon which all businesses can thrive.”
OBEYme is a social platform where African music fans compete to make songs go viral globally by hosting virtual parties. The most engaging users are rewarded with a pro-rata share of net subscription revenues daily. The result: African tastemakers can host the continent’s hottest parties but also monetize their local influence sustainably. In its first 3 months, 50k South African youth party-hopped virtually on OBEYme’s Beta platform.
Ygor Francisco, CEO/founder, OBEYme, stated: “The time is ripe for leveraging a music-based social platform that rewards Africa’s most influential music fans for driving the culture. Pop culture is dominated by Afrobeats and Amapiano, yet offers African fans and artists disproportionate compensation for their contribution to global music culture.”
RYLTY is a back-office application that helps music catalog owners maximize their investments. The first tool scans owners’ catalogs to seek out errors and omissions that cause royalty underpayments. What used to take a team of royalty accountants, analysts, and administrators days to complete, can now be done with the push of a button. To date, RYLTY has corrected over 3,000 errors and recovered more than $20 million in catalog value. Select customers include Tempo Music, Influence Media Partners, Doja Cat, Troye Sivan, and J.I.D.
Nicholas Judd, CEO, RYLTY, said: “You can’t build a company like ours in a bubble and Techstars Music is the perfect partner to help us expand our reach to help more musicians and catalog owners. We are taking a practical, multi-disciplinary approach to solve this multi-billion dollar problem. Our team is made up of some of the brightest minds in both music and fintech allowing us to take what used to be a manual process and scale it to reach every recording artist, songwriter, and catalog owner in the music industry.”
Even though Latin artists dominate the music industry today, there’s at least 25 million Latin music creators that don’t have access to music business education, losing time, money and opportunities.
Seed helps Latin music creators and their teams navigate the music industry, protect their rights and make money through an ever-growing catalog of online courses and community. Think of a private business school minus the crippling debt.
In just 15 months, Seed has enrolled more than 921 students from 36 countries, made almost half a million dollars in revenue, and closed more than 5 corporate partnerships. If you want to become a music business professional or entrepreneur, join Seed today!
Alexiomar Rodriguez, CEO, Seed, stated: “The Latin music market is a driving force behind the global music industry, with US Latin music revenues reaching $1 billion in 2022. However, in many Latin American countries, there are no music business schools, and most Latin music creators and aspiring professionals can’t afford to move to the US to attend a university and pay $40,000 in tuition per year. As a music lawyer and producer, I believe bridging this gap will open a whole new world of possibilities.”