Red Bull Amplifier just launched in London to accelerate music tech startups and they're interested in everybody with great ideas to "make music experiences better" from hackers to startups ready to find their market. They're not investing and they're not looking for partial ownership. Instead, they're offering access to artists and audience which is exactly what many music tech startups need.
Red Bull Amplifier is yet another great marketing move by Red Bull that builds on such projects as Red Bull Records and Red Bull Music Academy. Given the success of such Red Bull Records' acts as Awol Nation, it's certainly possible that the label has become a profitable enterprise. On the other hand, Red Bull Records' commitment to artist development suggests that the marketing aspects of Red Bull's overall involvement in music remain key to such projects.
Red Bull Amplifier is not giving or taking money from music-related tech startups. Instead they are providing access to artists and to audiences via their extensive range of music projects and their powerful social media and publishing presence.
Red Bull Amplifier states:
"If you’ve got an innovative, creative, change-the-face-of-music startup, we’d love to hear from you. We’re looking for like-minded people to work together with us - to make music experiences better and redefine the idea of accelerating a startup."
Their criteria is broad and appears to include interest in possibilities from the hack level to the ready for market exposure level:
"Is your product innovative and does it make experiencing music better?
Are you an independent, early stage startup with a strong team which is a pleasure to work with?
Is your product developed enough to go to market or be piloted with a large number of users?
Can we deliver something awesome together for Red Bull’s music channels?
Not a startup yet? If you don't meet the criteria but have an amazing hack that needs nurturing, we’d still love to hear from you: email@example.com."
This is actually a much broader range than a typical accelerator, incubator or early stage venture fund would typically consider. But that's reflective of the fact that this isn't an investment move but a marketing spend.
The panel of judges features:
SoundCloud's Dave Haynes
Red Bull Music Academy's Davide Bortot
Mercury Prize-nominated Ghostpoet
Tech Journalist Ciara Byrne
Yes, it's Euro-centric but given Red Bull's global music focus, location might not be the problem that it is in dealing with tech startup accelerators and investors.
“Don’t just build a feature Facebook is going to build in six months time - look somewhere completely different. [Streaming is] a crowded space and consumption has been commoditised, the play button is everywhere. But what about performance? What’s that tech that will allow anyone to make music?”
Apparently he also referenced Spotify and Pinterest as companies others are copying so one has to wonder if that's a signal that Haynes is primarily interested in companies shooting for the mainstream. Hopefully that's not the case overall since most of the real innovation is coming from companies that start with a more niche or fringe focus which is where Facebook started.
And, truth be told, SoundCloud's attempt to go mainstream would be more successful if they continued to build out niches and verticals rather than their oddly ambiguous call to everyone for "sounds."
The launch of Red Bull Amplifier will be great news for some people and interesting news for anybody following this space. Once again Red Bull reminds us that, whatever you think of their energy drinks, their marketing is as innovative as it gets. In fact, they make most corporate marketing efforts look incredibly stale.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.