The city that feels like a music startup: Berlin
Soundcloud, Native Instruments, Ableton, relatively low cost-of-living, excellent infrastructure, networking events, an active community of talented engineers and music enthusiasts and a long history of creativity; Berlin is the ideal place for music startups.
In recent years, the German capital has emerged as an international startup and tech hub. With one of the fastest-growing startup scenes in the world, the city is a vibrant and inspiring base for entrepreneurs, startups and innovators. Giving birth to some of the most innovative music technology companies in Europe. With businesses that have changed the musical landscape, introducing so-called disruptors in the way we operate in the music industry.
Attractive for business
Companies like Soundcloud, Native Instruments and Ableton were all founded in Berlin, which also attracted companies like LANDR and Beatport, and major record companies like Sony, Universal and Warner opening offices and/or moving their headquarters to the capital city.
At the same time, the strong community and the regular networking events, support the growth of new business. For instance: a company like Lofelt and their latest product called the Basslet, are founded by former employees from Ableton and Native Instruments. Berlins’ strong networks and the availability of talented technicians and other creative enthusiasts make it easier to start something new in a collaborative way.
Berlin, the city that feels like a startup
What defines a startup? Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. “The essence of a startup is growth” as Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator states it. Serial entrepreneur, Steve Blank formulates it a bit more elaborately: “A startup is an organisation formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model”, which is often associated with a business that is typically technology-oriented and has high growth potential.
Basically, it’s fair to say that “Startup is a state of mind”. People in startups work hard and fast to innovate, overcome and learn from failure and change our ways of working or living, by building something people will love. This requires passionate people, empowered to execute on their ideas, big or small, and to seek out lasting success. And Berlin, as a city, feels like one big startup. It’s in Berlin’s DNA and has been described as the city that’s ‘always becoming and never being’, always becoming a new version of itself, and it’s certainly had a busy few decades. And therein lies much of its appeal, attracting artists, musicians and other creative and tech people like programmers and engineers, often balancing on the edge of society.
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Berlin-based music-technology startups
Gerhard Behles and Robert Henke came together in Berlin during the 1990s while making electronic music as Monolake. This was the breeding ground for Ableton Live, the brainchild of the Ableton founders. Two musicians attracted to the thriving scene in Berlin and then finding the space and opportunity to launch their own product. Their story is almost similar to many other companies in Berlin. And the rich music history of Berlin and the way it changed the perception of great artists and other creatives, stimulates and attracts music-oriented startups. Silicon Valley may have more money, but David Bowie, Depeche Mode and Nick Cave never had a San Francisco period.
So what kind of companies are we referring to? Let’s have a closer look at some of Berlin’s music start-ups to get an understanding.
Skoove is a music startup based in a building next to Berlin’s well-known Watergate nightclub. The company profiles itself as the fastest and most extensive platform to learn the art of playing the piano. Much of the 21st-century piano-learning platform’s curriculum has been derived from experts in music, like the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Skoove also gathers information from its users to determine what students need to improve, providing an adaptive experience that helps ensure a better practice.
The company is founded in 2015 and had a funding round of a €1.2 million with a team of 15 certified music nuts with expert-status in technology, music education, and online marketing. Sounds like a great place to work!
Uberchord is another Berlin-based company and member of the Abbey Road Red music tech incubation program. They profile themselves as a high-tech music learning platform designed to enable anyone to pursue their dream of playing an instrument. It uses patent-pending audio technology and AI to rethink the process of learning music in the digital age. With its interactive, adaptive and personal concept, Uberchord’s comes as close to a private music teacher as it gets, enabling players of all levels to advance on their instruments both technically and musically. At present Uberchord covers the guitar, but this is only the beginning.
Founded in 2014 with total funding of $ 1.8 million, consisting of a team of 4 friends working in the software industry, all hobby guitar players who had grown increasingly frustrated with their slow progress and decided to do something about it.
Basslet by Lofelt
Taken from their website: The Basslet is a wearable subwoofer for your body. Using a whole new technology for sound, it delivers the beats and basslines of your music directly to you – so you can literally feel the music. The Basslet is designed by Lofelt, which was founded by former Ableton and NI employees. With over 10 innovation awards, the Basslet ranks in the top 5 highest grossing German Kickstarter campaigns.
Lofelt was founded in 2014 and raised $5.4 million to develop haptic tech. They profile themselves as a deep tech company in the heart of Berlin, staying true to German engineering heritage while growing their business globally, being an efficient, meticulous and fast-moving company driven by a dynamic team. Sounds pretty German to us 🙂
Gigmit.com is an event database and booking management tool for live music professionals and covers the entire booking process from first contact all the way to the deal. The platform transforms a very time-consuming process into a transparent and simplified online procedure – thereby saving everyone’s time and effort. They were founded in 2012 and are supported by Sony Music Entertainment investing a six-figure sum in their company. Their motto: ‘Gigmit makes live better.’ This can only get bigger.
From their website: Endel is a Techstars Music’18 company building an ecosystem of applications for smart homes, public spaces, mobility industry and workplaces. Endel generates personalised adaptive environments, designed to help you focus, relax, and sleep better. Its core algorithm is based on circadian rhythms, pentatonic scale, and sound masking. The sounds adapt to different inputs – like time of day, weather, heart rate, and location, boosting your productivity and cognitive abilities.
Founded in 2018 it received funding from multiple sources with a total funding amount of € 1.1 million. They are a small team of artists, developers, and scientists who have worked together on lots of digital projects.
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Resonate’s founder, Peter Harris, is a musician and electronic artist. After being slightly frustrated by various streaming platforms, he created his own.
“Music subscription service Resonate gives artists both money and power over content with a stream-to-own model. Resonate aims to put the money and power in the hands of the artists. It does this through three main selling points: an alternative to a monthly subscription service, an innovative technology that allows for a more transparent and efficient way of paying artists, and its cooperative model”, as described by The Guardian.
Founded in 2015, Resonate received a $1m investment from RChain, a Seattle-based blockchain system cooperative, to further develop its technology. And it doesn’t seem to stop.
Would a startup environment be something for you? The way Hessam Lavi, founder of Berlin Startup Jobs sees it, the startup industry is open to anyone who has the drive to be a part of it. […] “Thus, startups provide a tremendous opportunity to learn and gain experience.”
If you feel this, you’re into music and you have a great idea, it’s worth checking the various music-oriented startup companies (see references below). And with Berlin being the melting pot for art, tech, music and business we can only add to that: Come to Berlin and to ARI Berlin!! We look forward to welcoming you.
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