SoundLily is an app for tablets and smartphones targeted towards anyone who wants to improve their musical skills and at the same time have more fun singing or playing an instrument. With its unique set of tools it makes life easier for both teachers and students, while also being useful in performance situations.
The SoundLily team is a mix of musicians, software engineers and business developers. The co-founders share a broad knowledge in technology and a passion for music.
Henrik Thurén - one of the co-founders, keen amateur singer, violinist and pianists and has nearly 15 years of experience in IT and specializes in web development.
Peder Bylander - another co-founder, has many years of experience of working as a consultant in the interface of technology and business. Innovation management, business development and intellectual property rights (as a patent attorney) have mainly been his focus areas.
So how did they all come together and created SoundLily?
Peder Bylander and Henrik Thurén, two of SoundLily's founders
One dark November evening in 2013, Henrik was invited for dinner at Peder's house in one of the bigger towns in Småland, Sweden. Henrik then vividly pitched an idea concerning a software which would help students or private practitioners in developing their musical skills. Peder had experience in screening hundreds of innovation and product development ideas sent in by individuals and companies applying for governmental grants from his previous job. Due to this, he had developed a gut feeling of good and bad business/ and innovation ideas. The software that Henrik was now talking about caught Peder's attention and he advised Henrik considering bringing the product to the market. The two of them then agreed in the end of the evening to work together on making SoundLily a reality.
From November 2013 to June 2017, the team expanded and they all worked on distilling the most important aspects of the software, searching for programming resources and sourcing some initial financial support in order to develop a first version of the software which could be shown to potential partners, early users etc.
The first version of SoundLily was fully developed in the summer of 2017. In August 2017 the SoundLily team reached out to the newly launched Amplify incubator and was accepted as one of the incubator companies. It has been a great boost for the startup, both on a business and on a personal level. As Peder says, "Being able to bounce ideas about our technology development and creation of commercial and technical partnerships has been vital for us to come much closer to commercialisation (which will happen during autumn this year)." The positive energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the other member companies, has also given the team at SoundLily that extra motivation to work smarter and harder.
Henrik Thurén and Peder Bylander
"Being a member company at an incubator such as Amplify Sweden, with its esteemed management team, has for instance been of great importance in order for SoundLily to land capital injections in the seed phase." - Peder reflects on their time at Amplify so far. Additionally, they have been able to test their MVP (Minimum Viable Product) on several industry leaders and potential partners in the domain, which has helped to determine their business model and create a clear picture of the market needs.
The second version of the SoundLily app is now under development. The app, for both iPhone and iPad, is planned to launch on App Store at the end of summer this year.
We had a fantastic start of the summer with another AMP Talk - with our two partners, Propellerhead Software and Sony Music Entertainment Sweden.
AMP Talks is a series of breakfast events with influential and successful speakers in the music and technology industries. This time, we had the opportunity to listen to Mark Dennis, Managing Director at Sony Music Entertainment Sweden and Ernst Nathorst Böös, CEO & Founder of Propellerhead Software at the Sony Music Entertainment Sweden's office located in the heart of Norrmalm in Stockholm.
The topic - two growth journeys and two predictions for the future from different music industry actors. It was great to hear insights from two different sides of the industry - Propellerhead Software, a music creation software, and Sony Music Entertainment, a record label.
Both companies however, have both been affected by the opportunities the digital change has brought to the music industry in the past decade which was one of the main topics at our AMP Talk.
Mark discussed how the rise of influencers and popularity of streaming platforms like Youtube and Spotify has challenged the record labels in the recent years. Thanks to all the digital tools available out there, mostly for free, it is much easier for the artists nowadays to produce and stream everything themselves. “We need to redefine the reason to work with us. The reason is the value of the people and the ability to form a team around the artist” - says Mark. So why should an artist sign with a record label when they can just upload their tracks online? The true value is in the team - and of course the security that comes with signing with a label like Sony Music. The fact that the term "influencer" is now mostly associated with an Instagram star, has sometimes led the artists to forget that they are often influencers themselves, having a real impact on their dedicated listeners.
According to Mark, the biggest struggle in the past few years for the labels has been getting the audience to engage with the artist that they work with. This is no surprise, since you now have the option to download a couple of songs rather than buying the full album and you can even ask Alexa to play something for you based on your mood instead of putting your favorite record on.
When asked about his predictions for the future and the changes coming to the industry, Mark has brought up voice controlled devices and how the voice search option can affect the way we explore new music. We're probably all curious to see how that can change in the coming years.
Ernst brought us on a journey back to 1997, when Propellerhead Software was just starting out. The music creation software was actually part of the digital revolution in the late 90s - it was the first software that allowed the artist to make music without any additional equipment. All you needed was you computer, headphones and your creativity. And lots of time of course as the process can be complex. Over the last 20 years, the company has of course expanded. Propellerhead now offers a variety of products, including mobile apps, and 80% of sales are now downloads.
What will be the next big thing in the music industry according to Ernst? Well, there are now plenty of mobile apps and social networks that can make you feel like a professional photographer without a professional camera, platforms that give you a voice to share your opinions with friends and strangers and many others. But for the music makers, there is no equivalent of Instagram or Twitter, no platform to share their music with others, connect with other artists all over the world and collaborate with them. This is why Ernst founded Allihoopa - an app that allows you to do exactly that. Thanks to Allihoopa, you can listen, get inspired, give feedback, and make music with others. We also discussed how AI can change the way we create music today and the possibilities of creating a robot that would be so smart it could create fantastic music and upload it on Spotify right away. Let's see what the future brings!
Stay tuned for our next AMP Talk - and don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see what we're up to in the meantime!
Do you need a quick reminder of what Amplify is? We're taking music creativity & technology, remixing it with entrepreneurial excellence in a new and unique music tech incubator! Amplify is Sweden's first MusicTech oriented startup incubator, located at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.
This weekend, we had the pleasure of hosting another edition of LiveHacks by Stagecast at our Amplify villa.
If you haven't heard of it yet - LiveHacks is a hackathon hosted by one of our incubator companies, Stagecast. During the event, passionate coders, designers and makers come together to revolutionize the way we experience live entertainment. Each hackathon is focused on a different topic and different challenge. This time, it was all about the sound!
The teams of hackers could choose to work either on the “Voice-hack challenge” provided by Universal Music and Telia around Voice Controlled Demands (VCD) and working with Amazon's Alexa or they had the opportunity to work with the Stagecast team and be a part of their revolution of live entertainment events.
Each team consisted of carefully selected and really talented coders, makers and designers but, if needed, they had the support from the Stagecast team and the event's partners - Universal, Telia and ÅF, to help with their business ideation as well as the technical part.
On top of all the necessities like hardware, APIs and very cool light installations, the participants were provided with lots of pizza to keep them going and beers to celebrate after a day full of designing and developing their ideas!
In just 12 hours, the teams have come up with brilliant ideas and solutions to use our smartphones for interaction rather than a distraction before the concert starts - from engaging everyone in a light show to being artists and creating digital drawings together. We were also able to see new ways of how we can integrate Alexa into our daily lives and use the software to create custom playlists based on our current mood or even back up our signing at a party where no one wants to be the first one on the dancefloor.
The best part is, everyone could try out the new interaction tools and in the end, vote for their favorite team through the Stagecast app!
The grand prize went to team Waves (Stefan Lindqvist, Calle Erlandsson, Yuzi Lindsay, Ramon Andres Amezcua & Sourabh Pateriya) who has come up with a way to turn any event into a fun light show by interacting with a light installation. The individual winner was Danning Chen, who were part of creating a great project together with her team with a super positive attitude towards all the problems she was confronted with! Although these were the winners, all nine projects were amazing and the workload behind it was impressive.
The presentations were followed by an exclusive concert by a Swedish artist Arvid Lizell. All the participants got a chance to relax and enjoy fantastic live music after a very long day!
On April 27th, we had the pleasure of hosting David Stenmarck and Andreas Liffgarden, two of Amplify's co-founders, at another one of our AMP Talks.
If you didn't have the chance to attend yet, AMP Talks is a series of events with influential and successful speakers in the music and technology industries, hosted by Amplify.
This time, we invited David and Andreas to share their stories from starting successful businesses in the music tech industry, as well as some advice for all the starting entrepreneurs in the audience.
David is a music entrepreneur and composer with a passion to build businesses. His most successful one is probably Epidemic Sound - a platform that allows companies and individuals soundtrack their stories with quality music. David, who is a music producer himself and has worked with stars like Celine Dion and Westlife, understood how hard can it be to make a living as a musician. He has also seen how hard can it be to find quality music for your project, without a hassle. Thus, Epidemic Sound was born to solve that problem.
David's advice for our attendees? When starting a business, you need to go all in. There is no shortcuts and you need to accept that it is often complex. Your road to success may be bumpy in the beginning and that's why it's crucial to have a team that is prepared for the challenge. David and Andreas both agreed that at an early stage of a company, the team is essential. You may have a fantastic idea but if you don't have the right people to execute it - chances are, you won't be able to take your idea much further.
Andreas, who is the founder of Soundtrack Your Brand, had many fun anecdotes from his early days at Spotify and some great advice for everyone trying to break into the music tech industry. Soundtrack Your Brand's mission is to change how brands and businesses use digitally distributed music on a global scale.
Most important lesson learned from Andreas - it's a complicated industry and you have no other choice but to accept it. Music rights are complicated, licensing is complicated... and there is no way around it. Your best bet is to have someone on your team or even an external advisor who is more experienced in the subject than you. Don't be afraid to seek advice!
Andreas made an amusing analogy with a cookie cutter and a vegetable slicer/dicer - while many entrepreneurs from other industries may think about their product or service in a single "cookie cutter" form, while entrepreneurs in the music industry, need to "slice and dice" and break everything down into smaller parts to examine and understand the complexities of the industry.
Best advice we got from Andreas? Building a business is a bit like a tennis game - everything bad that has happened in the past is irrelevant if you win every ball in the future.
We're looking forward to the next AMP Talks and bringing more successful entrepreneurs on stage!
SMASK stands for Sveriges Musikakademiker's Song Kåntest - it's an annual music competition organized by Sweden's six music Colleges from Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Örebro, Piteå and Ingesund.
Being based right by the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (KMH), we at Amplify got the chance to take part in this year's SMASK on April 11th. It was a special edition of the event for Amplify, as one of our incubator companies, Stagecast, has provided their platform to use a digital voting service to determine the competition's winners. Stagecast is a live interaction platform for entertainment events. The app provides different tools - moments - that allow for an interaction between the audience and the perfomers, without creating a digital distraction.
The contest is a humorous and fun parody of Melodifestivalen - Sweden's largest entertainment program where 28 artists compete to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest.
SMASK competition started in 1991 when students at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm were disappointed and tired of applying to compete in Melodifestivalen - with no luck. They have decided to start their own competition instead. Each school organizes its own competition and the winners from each school take part in the big national finale. The competition is fully organized by students and all of the competitors need to work on everything themselves - from the lyrics to music and choreography.
Since lightly orchestrated pop songs dominate on stage, Melodiefestivalen is sometimes referred to as Schlagerfestivalen - "the schlager festival". While you can sometimes hear different genres of music, "schlagers" are the most popular at SMASK as well. That includes a live orchestra, lively and catchy compositions and sparkly costumes.
Anna Martinson, who is the vice president of the Student Union at KMH and the Project Leader for SMASK, said "the best part about SMASK is that everyone gets to play and have fun. It's the perfect opportunity for students to have fun with other genres of music even if they study classical music or jazz." All the performances we got to see this year were fun and light, including a parody of a popular movie called "The Hunger Games".
SMASK is the only project at KMH that is fully driven and organized by students. It takes a lot of energy and preparation and work starts as early as September! It is no surprise since there are around 100 students involved in the production of the event. From writing the lyrics to arranging the orchestra, they are in charge of everything themselves. Anna believes that working on the event production is a great practice for students, especially those looking to work in the entertainment industry and media production after graduation. It's a great opportunity for them to learn and build a project and get professional experience as well.
We were happy to collaborate with the SMASK production as the process ran smoothly and we had time to meet several times with them to really plan how they wanted to and were going to use Stagecast - and that’s valuable for us to understand as many other larger productions often have less time to really make sure that Stagecast can reach its full potential in their event. - says Hedvig Ahlgren, co-founder of Stagecast. It was nice to see how the hosts on-boarded the people how to use the app on stage, they did a great job and actually 88% of the total participants downloaded it! Anna Martinson and her fellow Project Leaders were thrilled to collaborate with Stagecast on the event. For them, it was the perfect voting tool - free for the audience (in contrast with paid text voting that was used the year before), easy to navigate and most importantly - the hosts were able to view results of the voting quickly.
Next year, the big finale of SMASK, with winners from all six Colleges, will be held at the Royal College of Music here in Stockholm. Until then, we're keeping our fingers crossed for this year's winners - Natasa Baykal and Malin Willén - who will be competing in the grand finale in May!
Photos: Courtesy of Robin Bugdahn, co-founder of Stagecast