It's hard to get on a startup job-board these days without seeing an advertisement for a "rock-star" coder, but the founders of two Helsinki-based startups have taken it to another level. Tommi Koskinen of AudioDraft and Hanna Toivonen of Mukava Music have teamed up to create Phantom, a duo with crisp vocals and a dark electronic sound. The band has now been on stage at SXSW and released its first four track EP on Soundcloud.
Perhaps their most polished track, Scars, started immediately picking up traction after being featured on The XX's Tumblr on Wednesday, leading to a review from Pitchfork and several other music blogs last night. Scars' music video now has around 29 000 views on youtube, and 5 000 plays on Soundcloud, with most hits coming in the last day or so.
Koskinen and Toivonen met each other at Aalto University's Summer of Startups. During the program they first began talking about their music focused startups, then after they discovered they were both into similar music they though it would be fun if they did something together. That summer resulted in one track, but as they focused on building their respective businesses they found they didn't have the time to get together regularly.
Things picked up again when Toivonen was invited to South By Southwest by the Finnish Mobile Association to be sort of the house band for them and the Center of Entrepeneurship. To go with her, she figured Koskinen was a great choice because he was an entrepreneur as well, and it would be fun to do something for the conference.
At the time of the invitation they had six weeks until they performed, with only one old song down and three more to put together. They were able to quickly get three more tracks released, as well as put together the music video with a 3D Kinect visualization by Delicode Ltd and Studio Lumikuu.
At SXSW they were apparently supposed to play only one set, but somehow it ended up being five due to the response they got from the crowd. One head-turner was Koskinen's MIDI transmitter and theremin, which basically allows you to play music like a wizard. "We made them smile, we made them laugh, and we touched people as well," says Koskinen. "It's important to get people emotionally involved."
Right now Toivonen tells ArcticStartup that they're both extremely busy with their startups, but they're still putting new songs together. They want to get four more songs together to do another album, as well as to do some gigs. They should have a surprise gig posted on their Facebook page sometime soon, and this summer they'll be playing at the MLove festival in Berlin.
In more startup-focused news, AudioDraft is now crowdsourcing music for startups like Scoopshot and Grand Cru, as well as taking submissions for the next new Nokia Ringtones. Crowdsourcing music content looks like it has a lot of interesting applications to take advantage of, and AudioDraft seems to be really picking up. I had to ask if any part of the album was croudsourced, but Toivonen assures me "it was all Tommi."
You may not have heard of Mukava Music before, but today they announced they have received €300 000 seed funding from Sibelius Academy and Tekes, making this Sibelius' first commercial investment project ever.
Mukava Music is still in private alpha right now, and is creating an intelligent service for music discovery while also innovating on the music streaming business model to take better care of artists. The details are still scarce right now, but Toivonen says the last couple days with Phantom proves both sharing is caring, and there is power in the people.