The creative spirit of Nashville, Tennessee, home to the Grand Ole Opry and the legendary Music Row, embodies more than just honky-tonks, cowboy hats and guitars. The city is fueled by music -- an industry that brings in $10 billion a year.
The Nashville Entrepreneur Center, home to Project Music, is a tech accelerator for music ventures backed by some of the biggest names in the industry. Among seven startups it backed last year, Dart Distribution raised $1.5 million to begin a distribution platform for classical composers. KaraoQ developed an app that ties into point-of-sale systems to help venues organize song requests. And Remix Hits created a platform with which producers can remix licensed music and compensate whoever owns the rights.
Nashville is hardly alone when it comes to the exciting (and lucrative) stuff happening in the space where music and technology converge -- along with the millennials who follow both. This space is creating thrilling new opportunities on which artists and entrepreneurs can collaborate. In fact, entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the marriage between music and technology to build their businesses, brands and reach.
You could be one of them -- regardless of your home base. Here's how.
How startups are rocking music and technology
As a musician and an entrepreneur myself, I know how tough it can be to stand out from hundreds of other hopefuls. But, having stood on both sides of each industry, I’ve also noticed which strategies the most successful companies use. Here are three ways you can use music and technology to help grow your startup:
1. Get inside millennials' heads through music.
New technology is opening up doors for fans to interact with musicians in more tangible ways, which means more opportunities for both entrepreneurs and artists. To illustrate: Ever since my band, Half the Animal, was included on musical.ly’s “The Most Popular” page and featured in the “Hottest” section on Ditty (both top 10 music apps), we’ve seen greater interaction with millennials, and our social media engagement rates have skyrocketed.
To succeed with millennials, you have to adapt to the generational shift happening, in the way they consume, listen and engage with music. You can engage them on their own turf by incorporating music into your startup’s marketing initiatives by finding a publisher with a music library that suits your needs, then licensing music that will appeal to them.
After you find just the right music to enhance your special event or advertising campaign, you can license that song to launch a new product, such as Jeep did with the song Renegades -- the ideal tune to capture millennial hearts with its message which echoes Jeep's that its new vehicle is perfect for adventure.
When younger fans see you supporting their favorite artists, they'll know your startup shares their values. And this will help them form an instant emotional connection with your company.
2. Exploit technology to make beautiful music together.
The production, distribution and consumption of music went digital long ago, but it’s taken a while for the business end to catch up. Entrepreneurs in this space are using technology to exploit new ways of doing business to make life easier for people.
Artists and others who straddle these two worlds are wisely capitalizing on an opportunity to help support more successful digital music partnerships -- such as the ones that exist between entrepreneurs and artists looking to license their music.
Jordan Young (a.k.a. DJ Swivel), for example, is the pioneering mastermind behind SKIO Music, a venture that helps artists and labels use digital technology to make licensing transparent.
Artists have been making a big chunk of their income from licensing for some time. Now, SKIO makes it easy for them to engage in direct licensing deals, receive secure payments and access collaboration tools. If you want to capture a piece of the coveted millennial market for your own company, check out services such as SKIO's to license music that aligns well with your startup’s marketing initiatives.
3. Promote influential artists to sell your startup to their concert-loving fans.
The best resources for using new music to market your startup to a younger generation are the playlists of millennials. Some 80 percent of that age group have agreed, on surveys, that live music events are the best way for brands to interact with them. As an entrepreneur, you could take advantage of that preference by hiring a popular artist to perform at a launch party or other event.
Even big-name luxury brands such as Burberry are turning themselves into concert venues to engage the exclusively digital millennial demographic. Follow its lead by inviting emerging local artists to produce live-session music videos, using your startup’s location as a set, then uploading the videos to their platforms.
The best part about such arrangements is that they create a mutually beneficial relationship for both artists and startups. By sponsoring live-session videos or local music festivals, you not only get exposure for playing a role in beloved experiential events, but influential artists also help out with your promotional effort: You can help them back by pushing the streaming video in their online content.
Music and technology have a lot in common. They’re creative industries that rely on smart, wildly experimental people to keep a constant stream of ideas flowing. The explosion of digital technology provides a great opportunity for these two worlds to unite and keep growing together in endlessly innovative ways.