The music industry 2023 overview
Now that the public discussion about streaming platforms is again in the spotlight, with Spotify laying off 6% of its employees and suing Apple for getting a bigger than deserved share in streaming revenue.
At the same time, musicians around the world aren’t particularly happy about the royalty share they get from Spotify or their music labels, so much so that they’re establishing new streaming platforms or breaking up long-standing label deals.
Musicians who want to be more in control of their releases and distribution is a tale as old as time. Luckily, some of them have managed to do so by introducing various forms of technology for optimizing their promotional and distributional activities, but also for revolutionizing the music industry completely.
“Adaptive music” and “cellular composition” are only a few terms that are getting popular for their unique ability to combine music and tech.
But before we move on to the most representative examples of music startups, let’s review the state of the music industry in numbers (source: BBC):
- In the last two decades, global music revenue has grown at the fastest rate, thanks to major artists like BTS, Taylor Swift, Adele, and others.
- More precisely, since the 1990s, revenues have grown by 18.5%, reaching a total of $25.9 bn in 2021.
- In the same year, there were around 523 million subscribers globally on all streaming platforms, compared to 443 million in the year before.
- Streaming accounts for the biggest share in revenue (65%), with CDs, vinyl and cassettes making up 19% and downloads 4%.
- Spotify is the most popular music streaming platform, with a 31% market share, followed by Apple Music (15%), Amazon Music (13%), Tencent Music (13%), and YouTube Music (8%).
What are the most innovative music startups?
There are so many amazing music tech startups around the globe that we couldn’t have listed them all even if we wanted to. However, these are the most popular and/or innovative ones, categorized by their nature.
Web3 Music Tech Startups
anotherblock – A great example of how web3 and music can work together to ensure a fairer place for artists. Namely, you as a fan can purchase a royalty share of a certain song you love, from an artist you support, and every six months collect royalties on your end. In the long run, if this model succeeds, musicians will no longer have to give away 80% of their royalties to labels but can turn directly to anotherblock and fans to support their music and have a bigger share in the music they made. Their catalogue up until now includes songs from huge artists such as Rihanna or The Weeknd.
Corite – A music startup with a similar business model as the one above, but with significant differences as well. With Corite, artists are able to announce campaigns for releasing new music that can be backed by their fans, who will later on have a direct share in stream revenue. Artists can choose the campaign goal and the percentage of royalty share for backers. This model allows musicians to have more control over the release and distribution of their music. Alan Walker has already joined this project.
Pianity – A music NFT platform that allows you to purchase NFTs from your favorite artists. For example, for 40 euros you can purchase “For You” by Marc Cerrone and get additional perks, such as a signed vinyl, access to guestlists to his shows, and becoming a member of Cerrone’s club (a private community). New artists and labels can register to list their songs in the catalogue. There are several payment methods, such as credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or using your crypto wallet (BTC, ETH, LTC, USDC).
A worthy mention: FUEL
Music Distribution Startups
trac – Platform that helps musicians sell their music, build their brand and track their impact. It’s a very good option for independent, emerging artists because it doesn’t cost anything to distribute music with trac. All of their plans include unlimited music distribution, which means artists can release as much music as they want to on Spotify, Apple Music, TikTok, Tidal, YouTube, and others. And, most importantly, artists keep 100% of their earnings.
We figured out how to use technology to cut down on distribution costs incurred and make music distribution free for you. We’re able to pay our bills via the money we receive from all of our Pro plan members, as well as the other cool features that we charge for such as Integrated Merch Pages.
HIFI – A platform aimed at improving the financial literacy and stability of artists. They’re advocating for artist-centric innovation and transparency, giving artists insight into their royalties and advice for a better investment. They emphasize education and advocacy because they’ve noticed a huge gap between music education and the music business. The best part is – the membership is free of charge.
beatBread – A music funding platform aimed at enabling artists to access capital without giving up ownership of their music or control of their careers. How does it work? The artist enters his/her name, beatBread collects data from streaming platforms and allows the artist to choose which tracks to include, for how long, etc. According to the report, the artist gets offers from the platform’s partners and can set the final terms of the agreement. They can expect to get the advance in their bank account after final arrangements are confirmed with the distributors.
Adaptive Music Startups
LifeScore – One of the most revolutionary music startups on the list. If you ever wondered what the soundtrack of your life would sound like, this cloud-based platform will make it come true. The instruments are played by real musicians, but cellular technology makes it available to assemble these music blocks in a way that’s ideal for your current environment. It adapts in real time, making it sound like it was written for that exact purpose. Every score is unique and it’s impossible to be repeated.
Beatoven.ai – Use artificial intelligence to create songs for your videos or podcasts. Just upload your content, choose among the 16 moods, pick a genre, and let AI do its job. You can adjust the song until it’s just right and, in the long run, you can build a unique sound identity for your brand. It turned out to be really useful for indie game developers who don’t have a composer or audio producer on their team, or for audio book production.
SoundMind – This platform promotes the benefits of music therapy. It’s very useful for the work environment because it enhances focus and a stress-free mood, with managers being able to see how their employees feel like. It’s powered by AI sound recommendation, personal data encryption, integration with Apple Health, analytics (to track the employee’s mental health). We’ve tried to test the app, but it crashed several times.
Endel – An app with a similar intent as SoundMind. Backed by neuroscience, Endel provides users with personalized soundscapes to help them focus, relax or fall asleep. The sounds adapt to the environment, time of the day, heart rate, location, weather, and more. It’s a great alternative to playlists, proven to reduce stress and keep you away from distractions.
Artist Pool Startups
Uppbeat – A platform for royalty-free music and sound effects. It’s sorted into various categories, depending on the dominant instrument, era, mood, or occasion. We’ve looked into their catalogue and there’s really something for anyone, with a huge number of choices. With free account, you get 3 downloads, with one more added to you each month. However, if you opt for a premium account, it’ll cost you only $4.99 per month, billed annually ($60), which pays out in the long run if you use sounds frequently in your content.
Songfinch – Ever wanted to gift someone a song? Songfinch made that available for only $199. Songs are made based on your inputs, or you telling the story of what the song should be about, and are created by real artists in 4-7 days. You can choose the mood and genre, as well as pick an artist from their catalogue who you’d like to make the song. To make it affordable to anyone, there’s even a possibility to split the purchase into four payments with no interest.
Music Education Startups
343labs – An eLearning platform dedicated especially to music production, based in NYC. It provides courses in small groups, on mixing and mastering, vocal production, contemporary songwriting, and more. There are even programs for kids or intensive workshops for those who are short on time. The courses are usually priced above $1,000 but some of them are free of charge, such as Ableton 11 Live.
Music 4 Humans – If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to learning about music, then M4H may be a better solution than the one above. Lessons start from $20, and include one on one teaching. You can choose your preferred instrument, genre, teacher and when the lesson will take place.
VR Music Startups
AmazeVR – Virtual reality concerts of your favorite artists. The app doesn’t use a musician’s avatar but rather a real 360 3D footage recorded especially for this purpose. It offers the opportunity to see your favorite artist up close, the way you would hardly be able to do in real life.
ENCORE – A music app that connects artists directly with their fans through interactive, live mobile experiences. Co-founded by Kid Cudi, this app lets artists host their shows even in the Metaverse. By using ENCORE, artists can directly monetize their live performances. There are tools for engaging fans, such as connecting in the lobby before and after the show.
Musician Networking Startups
FanFair – A platform for fan sharing. More precisely, artists coming to new towns can connect with musicians with a similar sound or vision, and can then reach more audiences, even if they have never heard of them. How does it work? Artists create their profiles on the app, they get matched with similar artists and, when both of them agree they’re a good fit, they can share each other’s content to expand their fan base.
Vampr – A social-professional talent marketplace helping creatives and artists find people to collaborate with, create new music, and monetize their work. This award-winning app has recently surpassed 1 million global users in more than 190 countries, with one of the fastest-growing catalogs of IP representation in music history. At the beginning of 2023, they partnered with AI-powered sync licensing search engine HyprAUDIO.
Fever – Their technology combines what they call ‘city specialists’ with data scientists to deliver a list of all events in a certain city. It’s also a good opportunity for event organizers to list their events. The customer experience is very neat and you can buy the tickets on-site. Although their database has many cities around the world, don’t be surprised if the one you’re looking for isn’t on the list.
Music Promotion Startups
Fanify – AI-powered platform that enables automation of promotional activities. Its aim is to help artists grow their fan base, with pricing plans starting from $14 per month. All it takes is for artists to choose their promotional video, their soundalikes, taglines and budget. Fanify takes care of the rest.
Audience Republic – A tool to help event organizers sell more tickets, by increasing word-of-mouth. It also provides special perks to the customers, for example discounts on tickets, meet-and-greets etc. Moreover, it provides insight into customer data so you can plan your campaigns more efficiently.
Viberate – This platform unites talent discovery, artist monitoring, campaign planning and reporting. It’s an all-in-one tool for music data analytics, with straightforward visualization, useful for business reports. It has a huge database, which is another reason why industry professionals should consider joining in.