Event Recap: NY MusicTech Meetup February 2016

On Thursday, February 25th, the Media Lab attended the NY MusicTech Meetup. The groovy event was hosted at the Harman store on Madison Avenue where a number of interesting music startups demonstrated their products for the crowd.

The first was CymbalFM, a social music discovery app for iOS. Users post their favorite song of the moment so others can listen and discover new tunes. Users have the ability to like and comment on posts, or explore a friend’s entire history of posts as one playlist. The platform is built on top of Spotify and Soundcloud’s APIs so people can listen directly on the platform. Soon they will be launching a discovery-specific page that surfaces trending hashtags and recommends users that have similar tastes as you.

Next was Cadenza, an app that provides an entire classical orchestra to accompany you while you play your instrument. Through AI and machine learning, the app adapts the tempo to your playing style in real time to create an ensemble performance consisting of one musician. The app is currently being used by young students who are taking music lessons and has a user base of around 40,000. They also have a social component where people can record their sessions and share to Facebook. Cadenza is a very powerful tool for beginning and intermediate musicians and it will be exciting to see how they grow as their tempo matching technology becomes even more robust.

Finally, Feature.fm discussed how they are helping aspiring musicians get discovered on streaming services. Their ad platform allows users to easily create and distribute sponsored songs that play natively during a user’s listening session. The artist can customize their message, a call to action, and their album artwork as well as select which region, genre, and tags they would like to target. The average cost-per-play is around 2 cents. However, there is no cost if the user skips the song before 30 seconds has elapsed. The ad unit is currently integrated into 8Tracks with plans to expand to 3-4 more services during 2016 (although they were not able to share which ones at the time).  There is an opportunity for advertisers to brand the info box that appears with the sponsored tracks or even sponsor the artists’ advertising budgets themselves in order to provide real value to consumers by surfacing new music.

Lots of exciting things are happening in New York’s music tech scene. As audiences become increasingly averse to being served with bland messaging, there are lots of opportunities in this space for brands to provide audience with real value to earn their attention.