Steve Morell, CEO and founder of Nashville music startup NiceChart, stepped out on stage in front of dozens of potential investors Monday (May 16) with the goal of winning hundreds of thousands of dollars and immediately addressed the doubters.
"The elephant in the room is the perception that sheet music is dead," Morell said, to nervous laughter. He then spent the next six minutes proving his own statement wrong explaining and how tech investors could easily access the $500 million industry in an innovative way that creates something new out of a very old product.
Morell's NiceChart is one of seven companies that have completed the Project Music 2016 Accelerator, a program started by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and the Country Music Association. Now in its second year, the program has helped launched 15 music-oriented startups with the assistance of mentors and advisors from the music industry.
Seventy percent of this year's 144 applicants were beyond the idea stage when they applied and many were already making money by the time they made their pitches.
"A lot of people heard about the program last year and we got a lot of great media coverage, so I think we were able to cast a wider net," said Damon Whiteside, the CMA's senior vice president of marketing and partnerships. "I think because of that, we got the upper echelon of companies that wanted to be a part of this. I think this year definitely upped the game. It seems like their business models are a little more developed and a little more relevant to what the market needs even more so than last year."
Here's a look at this year's new businesses:
NiceChart: taking the staid old medium of sheet music and updating it for the digital age, NiceChart is aimed at music directors for orchestras and bands who spend two to six hours per piece of music on modifications. NiceChart allows these modifications to happen digitally, quickly making changes to instrumentation, ability level and other variables.
UpNext: "The Game of Music Discovery" combines the immediacy of app gaming with the act of music discovery, allowing fans to hear, endorse and even promote new music through their own virtual record labels. Fans hear 15-second snatches of music on the app, then make a decision to dismiss it, like it or recommend it.
Concert.Expert: Already with 10,000 subscribers, the startup supplies touring acts with a number of tools to plan and route tours, including an education component, email aggregation, available venues and time slots and more.
Notetracks: A one-stop app option for creators with more than 1,000 downloads already, Notetracks attempts to marry the many different platforms required in today's music production regime. It offers communication, transmission and storage options on a single mobile app that allows for ease of creativity.
RecordGram: This startup allows producers and artists from all over the world to meet and collaborate in a single space, building a community of creators who can work together cheaply and easily. A producer, for instance, can upload beats for free or lease and an artist can take those beats and add his own voice to cheaply create music that might otherwise be expensive or unattainable for each party.
MyFansDemand: Ever shown up at the concert to find long lines at the merch table, or worse, no shirts in your size? This app allows acts to monetize merch purchases and other concert moments instantly, among other options.
Snapwave: This startup seeks to marry the monochromatic world of subscription music delivery with visuals that add extra emotion and value to music, which is increasingly being pushed into the background. The company would make its money by selling data intelligence on music and viewing habits to brands.