Music Tech

Red Bull Amplifier Launches Music Tech Startup Accelerator

Red-bull-amplifier-logoRed 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:"

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.

Red Bull Amplifier held a launch event a few days back in London. There Dave Haynes stated that they weren't looking for "me too services" but for companies that "look slightly ahead":

“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.

Note: Sidekick Studios, who worked with Red Bull on Red Bull Flow, is also involved with Red Bull Amplifier.

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.

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  1. “offering access to artists” – Which artists does Red Bull own that are not usable for all through musicservice APIs?

  2. lol
    As in direct human access? Remember that?
    Or, less personally, encouragement to be involved with one’s product.
    You know, that thing that most music tech startups are currently failing to do which is why most music tech startups are failing.
    To be clear: I’m not talking about streaming music startups or any effort that doesn’t require actual involvement of artists to succeed. Obviously most hackday efforts are using APIs and similar tools that don’t require human involvement beyond the programmer.
    But cute hacks are a dime a dozen. Very few represent a potential business. Fewer still involve individuals who think in a business-like manner. That’s one reason I mostly don’t cover them any more.

  3. But I can see why you’d raise that point given that they do talk about hacks and that most hacks seem to use Spotify or similar APIs to get music.
    It will be interesting to see how they handle that. It’s hard to know for sure from what they’ve released. But building a company off a 3rd party API is a setup for disaster as we’re seeing with so many companies built off Twitter.

  4. Agree… But my main question was actully: What can Red Bull provide if its not money? I dont see their position as strong. New startups need mainstream artists to gain a proper markedposition. And from what I know Red Bull is indie-only

  5. That depends on the startup. Most of the ones I cover are focused on indie and DIY artists.
    And many of them seek to address a two-sided market, fans and indie artists, and fail to do so.
    So what they are lacking is exactly what Red Bull is seeking to provide.

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