MIDEM announced the four winners of the 2013 Midemlab startup competition — Songful by Instrumagic, Jamplify, StageIt and Audience.FM — as part of its Visionary Monday programming. This year’s honorees were selected from over 140 entrants and join the ranks of previous winners that include Songkick, Next Big Sound, The Echo Nest, SoundCloud and Webdoc, which this year rebranded as Urturn.
Israel’s Songful by Instrumagic, the winner of the Music Discovery Recommendation and Creation category, is a virtual-performance app that allows users to strum their iPad as if it were a guitar, choosing chords and lyrics from UltimateGuitar.com’s licensed catalog of over 200,000 songs. CEO Eyal Eldar performed “Roxanne” by The Police on his iPad to demonstrate to the audience – with an appeal to less-than-ambidextrous aspiring guitarists. “If you were playing regular guitar you’d have to use the left hand to play the chords,” he said. “That’s where most people who try to learn pull out. Technically, what you really want to do is strum your left hand, and pretty immediately anyone can become a guitar player.”
The United States’ Jamplify, winner of the Marketing and Social Engagement category, is a fan-empowerment platform that rewards an artist’s most active and influential fans with exclusive access, merch and experiences. CEO Andy Pickens demonstrated how fans could create virtual street teams, or “Jampaigns,” for their favorite acts and how artists like Aer have already used the platform to incentivize their audience with backstage passes and signed merchandise. “It enables artists to turn their existing fanbase into a crazy-effective marketing force,” Pickens said. “In a digital age, how do we get our fans to evangelize and spread the word?”
The United States’ StageIt, winner of the Direct-To-Consumer Sales and Monetization category, is a streaming-concert platform that allows artists to host and monetize virtual, private concerts for their fans. Arguably the most well-known of this year’s winners, StageIt has already hosted virtual concerts from name acts like Pompalmoose, Lisa Loeb, Jason Mraz, Indigo Girls and Toad The Wet Sprocket, the latter of whom cited StageIt as accounting for 20% of the band’s total revenue in 2012. Although acts can sell tickets to their shows, the real revenue comes from tips – which, in the case of YouTube singer Christina Grimmie’s recent show, made up $21,000 of her $30,000 revenue from a 30-minute set. Artists make an average of $13.40 per fan per show, added CEO Evan Lowenstein, with 59% of that coming from their virtual tip jar. “It’s not about streaming concerts from venues like this, but streaming from moments – our artists call it downtime,” Lowenstein added.
France’s Audience.FM, winner of Fleur Pellerin’s Coup de Coeur award, is a fan-metrics platform co-created by CEO Jules Terrien, a former musician himself. “I had no idea who my fans were,” he said. “As a band, you can look on Facebook or go on Twitter to see how many people follow you. You get basic demo info from fan sites, but there’s really no way to understand your individual fan.” Audience.FM was created by combining social data from the open graphs of Facebook with music listening data from various streaming services to measure individual fan engagement.