In this piece Laurent Martin walks us through the process by which his startup, Aitokaiku, was able to work with members of Music Tech Germany in order to emerge as the first fair trade association the music tech industry has seen.
Guest post by Laurent Martin of Aitokaiku
It’s amazing how quickly things get done when there’s a lawyer in the room. In a sterile Berlin conference room at 5:15pm last Friday, the founding members of Music Tech Germany finally completed all the necessary paperwork to become the world’s first trade association for the music tech industry.
My company, Aitokaiku, stood by with academics, entrepreneurs, developers, and musicians who would rather be doing anything but toiling through legal forms on a summer day in order to improve the standing of our industry.
Why should a startup even care?
Berlin is a mecca for music tech companies. There are global players like Native Instruments, Ableton, SoundCloud, and Dubsmash, as well as myriad small- and medium-sized companies making products for everyone from pro audio engineers to 8-year-old piano students. These companies employ numerous skilled workers, but one is unlikely to hear about the music tech economy from politicians or find investors familiar with all the success stories in music tech.
Aitokaiku wants better visibility, access to the best talent, and connections to other industries — but we’re a small startup with limited resources. Music Tech Germany gives us a platform to connect with government and other industries and raises the profile of our company in the greater economy. It also improves members’ access to the appropriate talent, grants, clients, and events.
For startups, membership in Music Tech Germany is the chance to punch above your weight class and a chance for enterprise members to show leadership that extends beyond our industry. More importantly, it makes a statement that we can grow markets and make success available to more players by pooling our resources.
Improving representation is an important part of the Music Tech Germany mission and one that Aitokaiku strongly values. Improving music tech’s gender balance, reaching out to communities of color, and creating an inclusive business community for everyone are some of the most important goals we can invest in.
I started out in Silicon Valley, and something the HBO show by the same name gets right — which the tech press often distorts — is that the tech industry is not a pyramid with winners on top and everyone else fighting and scratching to displace them.
Stories about cutthroat competition that bring eyes and clicks to TechCrunch make for awkward moments in the real world.
The tech industry itself is a web and success may lead your company to acquire a rival and depend on their team to make you a better company — or vice versa. It pays to acknowledge just how close and dependent we are on each other’s success in the long term.
Just a few days ago, our neighbors down the street let go of 40% of their workforce. While we’re sorry to see the lives of so many SoundCloud employees disrupted, we also understand that an elastic headcount and the flexibility to pivot business models are features of the tech industry, not bugs.
Music Tech Germany provides a central hub for talent that makes it easier for skilled workers in our industry to find work and continue to contribute to Aitokaiku, to our peers, and to our industry. The last thing we want to see is music tech workers change industries because they don’t know where they are needed.
Aitokaiku is by no means alone in this. Alongside the other founding members of Music Tech Germany, we’re thankful to the city and state of Berlin for encouraging the formation of Music Tech Germany as well as the Fraunhofer Society (they invented MP3s!) who provided invaluable support with the legal process.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” as the expression goes. Aitokaiku is proud to be part of the rising tide in music tech as members of Music Tech Germany and we hope to see more groups like ours form in other countries.
Laurent Martin is the CMO and Co-Founder of Aitokaiku — maker of reactive music products that use sensors to create personalized music. He is also a professional opera singer. Visit the Music Tech Germany website for more information and download Aitokaiku’s augmented music mobile apps on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.