Motown Records Launches New Mentorship Programs for Detroit-Based Musicians and Startups

Motown Museum
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Motown Museum (Hitsville U.S.A.), original home of Motown Records in Detroit on May 24, 2018. 

The Motown Musician Accelerator will offer four musicians and/or musical groups $20,000 grants.

Detroit-based musicians and music-tech startups will get a chance to work with the legendary Motown record label as part of two new programs aimed at fostering local talent and entrepreneurs, Motown parent company Capitol Music Group (CMG) announced Thursday (April 25).

The first program, dubbed the Motown Musician Accelerator, will offer individualized coaching, industry introductions and a $20,000 grant to four musicians or musical groups during a 12-week program slated to launch in summer 2019. The grants can be used to book studio sessions and photo shoots, fund travel to meet industry professionals and collaborators and buy equipment, among other career-boosting activities. A competitive selection process helmed by industry professionals is currently underway for the program. 

“Detroit has always been a creative hub for new talent and development,” said Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam in a statement. “With the Motown Musician Accelerator initiative, we have an opportunity to come back to Detroit and highlight the incredible talent that has always existed in their community. Being able to provide the necessary support, funding and programming to help them grow in their careers is an absolute honor for us.”

A second component of the Accelerator program will involve quarterly workshops conducted by industry professionals that will offer information and advice on distribution, booking and touring and songwriting, among other topics. These workshops, which are free and open to the public, will be held at three different locations: TechTown Detroit, Detroit's Motown Museum and Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California. The workshops will be operated by gener8tor, a Wisconsin-based concierge startup accelerator that helps connect entrepreneurs, artists, investors, universities and corporations.

The Accelerator program is funded by donations from the Esther Gordy Edwards Family Foundation, Microsoft and Hassan Bazzi, among others, making the program free for all participants. Interested parties can learn more and apply at

Concurrent with Accelerator, five Detroit-based music-technology startups will also be selected to participate in the gBETA Musictech program, a free seven-week intensive that will give selected companies the chance to work with successful entrepreneurs, music industry experts, angel investors, venture capitalists, technologists, acclaimed producers, songwriters and influencers to “develop strategies to grow, gain customer traction and pitch investors.”

The Musictech program, which will also be operated by gener8tor, will take place at local “entrepreneurship hub” TechTown Detroit. An additional group of five startups (to be sourced internationally) will take part in the Musictech program at the Capital Records Tower in Hollywood, bringing the total of participating companies to 10.

“This is truly a deep, passion project for me,” said Paul Riser, director of Detroit urban solutions at TechTown Detroit and son of legendary Motown session musician Paul Riser, Sr., in a statement. “Being the son of an original Funk Brother, producer and arranger during early days of Motown, I grew up witnessing and experiencing the creation of music that is truly world-renowned and which will forever be the heartbeat of the great city of Detroit. But after observing the unfortunate decrease in investment for creative arts in schools, I’ve strived to not only be a part of the city’s revitalization, but to contribute to a renewed intersection of music, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Applications for gBETA Musictech are currently being accepted at for companies based around technologies related to “sourcing, recording, production, distribution, marketing, touring, licensing and streaming as well as any technology or process innovations that could serve any component of the music industry.” No start date has been announced for the program as of yet.

Additionally, individuals and organizations interested in getting involved in either program -- including as mentors, service providers and sponsors -- are encouraged to email

CMG notes that a search is also underway for a director to lead the Motown Music Accelerator program. Interested candidates with relevant experience are encouraged to apply at