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Techstars Music's Bob Moz On The Music Business and How Tech Is Reshaping It

Bob Moz (Techstars Music  Startups  and the Future of the Music Industry) 3-48 screenshotBob Moz (short for Moczydlowsky) is a fixture in music tech. Now the Managing Director of the Techstars Music startup program, Moz worked at Yahoo Music, as Topspin VP Product & Marketing and Twitter's Head of Music.

David Weiszfeld, the CEO of Music analytics dashboard Soundcharts, launches his new video interview series talking with Bob about his path in the industry, his experiences as Twitter and Topspin, and now running Techstars Music, as well as, the future of the music business and some of the most exciting startups changing the industry.

Topics & Highlights

04:57 — On starting out in the music industry:

David Weiszfeld: What made you do the flip at 30, wanting to [turn your career to the music tech]? 
Bob Moz: I always loved music and tech. I just grew up in a place where I didn't think that having a career in music and tech was possible. I was more talented and had better skills than I realized, I guess, it's how to put it... there was [a lot of places] where I could have worked in music and tech. I just didn't realize that it was possible. It took me a long time to realize that I could participate in that sort of global ecosystem... The ethos of just do it: "What are you waiting for? Just start". I really should have leaned into more. That's where I come from, that's what I believe in. 

08:10 — On working at Topspin, Yahoo Music and Twitter:

David Weiszfeld: From Yahoo to Topspin to Twitter, what are the learnings from a huge company to a startup to a large startup? What are the things you would keep and not keep from three experiences? 
Bob Moz: I would keep all of it. Topspin was "you thought you knew what you were doing and we're just like we messed it up so many different ways". I feel really glad that the company put a dent in the universe and changed the way directive and marketing works and helped artists make millions of dollars... When you work in a startup for five years and it's really hard and [...] everything seems like it's on fire all the time. Everything is an emergency and you feel like you don't get anything – and you really accomplish an awful lot.

When I [later] got to Twitter: everybody was like “wow that guy knows what he's doing “and I was like "I don't have any idea what I'm doing!". At Twitter it was like "How do you do this at planetary scale? And what matters and how do you do it?" Life in the major leagues is like: here's these big sexy things and a really ambitious plans and they don't always work out. And you're better off being in the arena, being the person trying to do it, sweating it out and failing then you are sitting on the sidelines watching.

15:47 — On Techstars:

David Weiszfeld: For the people who don't know overall what is TechStars regardless of the music program. Can you just kind of sum it up in a second?Bob Moz: We talk about Techstars as a global network to help entrepreneurs succeed. Practically, I think we are now officially the world's largest seed stage investor. We run 45 accelerator programs around the world... All [our portfolio] companies come together to work as a team to help us identify, nurture, capitalize, and then give platform to the 10 most interesting startups in music every year.

[At Techstars] I've created my dream job, which is every year I get to work with like the smartest most interesting entrepreneurs who are trying from the very earliest stages to build big global companies that are solving problems for music. What we're trying to do is attract more venture capital to the music ecosystem and we're trying to help these companies do a year's worth of work in three months and really like reshape the way music and live entertainment, media consumption works for the future.

20:04 — On Techstars Music startups:

David Weiszfeld: What are the few verticals [that you're focusing on]? Last year, I think it was ticketing and blockchain companies. 
Bob Moz: I mean there's a couple of companies that are in our portfolio that the people know and that the people who follow Music Tech have probably seen. In our AI Music front we have Popgun that is in our portfolio in Australia, Amper music is in New York: the two global leaders in making music with AI.

[On the] blockchain rights management side, we have JAAK in the UK also from the first class of the program, a company you will probably recognize. We also have Tracer in Madrid Spain doing Blockchain based service layer for tickets (not on the front end but on the backend), making tickets portable so you can sell them on any front end or distribute them around to other sellers.

We also have EndelThey take your personal data and your biometrics and they create customized sound environments to help you relax or focus or go to sleep. But the company is really a controller for the environment. What's the brain of your smart home? If you say Alexa help me go to sleep, she needs to know what your heart rate is, she needs to know how busy your day was or how stressful your drive was. And it becomes a thing that can collect all of these inputs and then the outputs...

Blink Identity is the other one I think people would probably like associate with us from last year: facial recognition and Iris scanning at high speeds. They're experimenting with the guys at Ticketmaster around like "in the future can your face be your ticket".

24:56 — On the future of the Music Indsutry:

David Weiszfeld: What excites you in the music industry right now?
Bob Moz: One [of the topics] is the implication of how we manage media. My son's 9. He talks to Alexa non-stop all day. He has no concept of albums. He has no concept of media brands. He has no concept of playlist thing or groups of songs. His relationships are with Alexa and with the artist or the song name. He is [...] discovering things in the voice environment. And [that is] a whole thread in music right. How we prepare for voice? What's the metadata looks like? What's the tagging look like? How do we read emotions there? We've made a couple of investments this year in companies that are relevant here.

The other thing I'm super into is that I think every kid in the world in the next two or three years will have all the tools they need to become a global pop star.From anywhere on the planet: you won’t have to be in New York. You won’t have to be in L.A. You won’t have to be in London. You could be in Ghana and you could be a global superstar. I think it's like two years away.