Monday, December 11 marked the final day of the first ever Amplify & Sting Test Drive MusicTech. Modeled after Sting's Test Drive program, Amplify Sweden provided the unique perspective of music business to the Test Drive program. Out of numerous applications, 10 companies were chosen to participate in Test Drive MusicTech with teams ranging from 1 to 4 people. Participants spent 5 sessions working with tech and music industry experts to kickstart a music & tech related idea. In order to immerse the participants in Stockholm's music tech scene, the sessions took place at 3 different locations: The Amplify Sweden Villa, Stockholm Music City House & Sony Music Sweden.
The program kicked off with an overview of startups, led by Sting business coach Raoul Stubbe. Topics ranged from minimum viable product (MVP) to the challenges of starting your own company. In the next session, Raoul worked with Amplify co-founders David Stenmark & Andreas Liffgarden to discuss how the music industry poses unique challenges developing a business model. During this session, the TestDrivers received an in-depth lesson on how splits, royalties & copyrights work while also tackling business model development such as Lean Canvas. By session 3, Sting's Head of Talent Raman Ramalinga & Amplify co-founder Åsa Otterlund joined Raoul to discuss building a team from a culture, recruitment, values & legal perspective. During session 4, it was time to bring things together with pitch coaching, financing & more music with the help of Raoul, David, Andreas and Amplify co-founder Martin Gemvik.
After 4 sessions of learning & numerous homework assignments, it was time for the pitch competition, hosted at Sony Music Sweden. Over the course of 7 weeks, the ideas of each company grew and evolved. These 5-minute pitches allowed each company to showcase where they are now as a company in front of a panel of music business & startup experts. The jury included serial entrepreneur Mattias Tengblad, Helene Sandwall of Spotify, Sara Herrlin, co-founder of Stockholm Music City, Marcus Sebek of Sony Music Sweden & Angel Investor, Jacob Key.
Some of the companies that pitched included: Johan Mickelin representing Refine Music, a news aggregator & social media site for those interested in dance music; Benjamin Comley & Francis Mace representing TicTonic, a digital ticketing platform with no booking or admin fees; Lauri Metsvahi representing Djentophonic Ensemble, creating classical arrangements from progressive metal music; Ardalan Azadi, Mattias Lundstedt & Arvid Hällje representing Music Handshake, a digital platform that allows musicians to manage their administrative tasks and take control of their bookings; Daniel Engh representing Signe, a crowd funding platform for concerts; Johannes Larsson representing Pro Guitar; and Selim Stahl representing Vinyfy, a platform that allows you to turn your playlists into vinyl.
Before announcing a winner for the pitch competition, the session's hosts insisted "This is fun. Don't take it too seriously!" and the jury provided advice for the startups. "Have a story line," Jacob Key says. "Highlight the problem, the unique solution and highlight the team. This early on, 95% of what we're investing in, is the team." Helene Sandall adds, "We need more numbers, data & stats to back up your assumptions." Mattias Tengblad asserts that companies should be more aggressive about what they need and brag about their team.
The jury then announced that Signe was the idea and pitch they liked the most, thus the winner of the competition. Signe has already arranged 15 successful crowd funded concerts. The goal of the company is to ensure that artists & venues feel secure in the events they produce by collecting interest first, in the way of revenue, before booking the shows. Founder, Daniel Engh studied Music & Event Management at Linnaeus University and has several years of live music experience. As the winner of the pitch competition, Daniel won a very cool trophy & two months of office space at the Amplify Sweden villa.
As the pitch competition concluded & thank yous were provided to all participants and jury members, Sting CEO, Pär Hedberg, asserted "We'll play again!" Amplify Sweden & Sting look forward to having another Test Drive MusicTech in 2018 & we cannot wait to see what our next round of Test Drivers come up with!