When we last wrote about Epidemic Sound they were still bubbling up on Stockholm's startup radar - but only when it came to hype from startuppers. Instead they were spending their time killing it with actual customers; in October of 2013 they were already providing 70-80% of all music used on television in Northern Europe. Today they should be a name everyone knows as far as Stockholm or Nordic startups go, after raising a $5 million (€3.65 million) Series A in a round led by Creandum.
It’s been two years since we covered FourChords, the Finnish app that encourages beginning guitarists by breaking down songs into simple, easily-playable arrangements. There are plenty of details in the original story, but as a quick recap: FourChords makes it easy to play music by visually guiding users through songs’ basic chords, lyrics, and timing. So what’s been going on with them since then? A lot.
One of the most infuriating things on the Internet today is regional and national legislation when it comes to digital content. For gaming the always excellent Rock, Paper, Shotgun coined the term ‘No Oceans’ to campaign against the annoying habit of companies to restrict launch dates by region. The Internet has no oceans, so why are we restricted from downloading or accessing something purely based on what piece of land we stand upon?
Tech geeks who like to be the center of attention are always interested in high performance speakers. The markets have many variations of these boom blasters, but Finnish startup Unmonday launched their multi-channel ceramic wireless speaker some months ago.
Since then, the speakers have gone along and prosperous journey filled with positive reception and now, well, within a few days, we can expect to see them retailed in selected Apple stores around Europe. Apple has highlighted their liking to the speakers and this might take Unmonday far indeed.
Slush was a busy time for a lot of people, walking around trying to meet and greet as many people as possible, promoting businesses, and standing in long queues for coffee or food. One of the things that kept the team at InstrumentChamp busy was the launch of their crowdfunding campaign which just last Friday reached its funding target.
Bitcoin's very first physical step into Finnish soil was made in Helsinki, when Europe's first permanent bitcoin ATM was launched yesterday in a record store Levykauppa Äx, which is known to experiment with their marketing.
There are other companies that have introduced bitcoin ATM's in Europe such as the Swedish Safello and attempts in Slovakia and Denmark. There was even one at the Slush conference. However none of them were permanent and according to our data, this one is the first one in Europe.
Customers can now buy bitcoins for cash in the store with an exchange rate set by Finnish exchange company Bittiraha, who is also responsible for the installation of the ATM. The record store will also begin accepting bitcoins as payment and join the narrow list of stores and shops who accept this much discussed crypto currency in Finland.
Even without the ecosystem around Spotify we've got a lot of hot music startups popping up in the region - whose late nights of hacking are already fueled by Red Bull - so here's an opportunity for a much stronger collaboration. Red Bull has now gotten into the startup accelerator game, plugging music-tech startups into their networks and media properties, all while not taking any equity. The program, called Red Bull Amplifier will be based in London and is currently accepting applications from european-wide startups.
Red Bull already has a music label and eight recording studios worldwide, and is helping up-and-coming musicians through Red Bull Music Academy, so this seems like a somewhat logical step to make sure their brand has close access to the up-and-coming music tech and services that will help market their brand. On top of that, Red Bull is everywhere though events, giving startups access to real consumers.
I've been curious what's happening behind Tunigo since adding it by chance to my Spotify Apps. The app is basically only a playlist directory, and I've been puzzled what's been generating revenue or why someone built it. It's not a hacked-together project - their Spotify and iPhone/Android app looks quite polished, and they offer a large number of professionally curated and user submitted playlists.
Luckily I saw Tunigo has a Swedish flag in the corner, and it's my day job to ask these questions, so I reached out to the company to see what makes them tick.
There is no doubt about it, the war for online music streaming space is on and its about to get nasty. Prior to today, the competing companies, Spotify, Rdio, WiMP were only getting ready for battle. Counting troops, building war machines and marking territory.
Today, Rdio announced that they have launched free web music streaming in 15 countries, including pretty much every country in the ArcticStartup region with the exception of Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland. Now this is not a big news per say, as we have already covered the fact that they have silently launched first in Denmark and then in other Nordic countries.
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.
Garage48 Music took place in Tallinn last weekend. 20 ideas were pitched, and 14 gathered the necessary team behind them to take off. The majority of the ideas were focused on music and entertainment, and on the judges panel was Chris Douridas, a 2-time Grammy nominated music supervisor.
The winner, EasyRider, is a tool for festival and event organizers and promoters who deal with musicians. The service bills itself as, "The easiest and fastest way to create, manage, and share your band's technical riders.
Nokia is using Audiodraft's platform to hold contests to create regional ringtones through crowdsourcing. This isn't the first time Nokia has crowd-sourced their ringtone through the Audiodraft platform, but it sends a clear signal that they have been pleased with the past results the contests have generated.
The new contests run by Nokia are to create regional ringtones for China, India, Latin America, South East Asia and Pacific, and Middle East and Africa. The prize fund totals over $37 000, with each winner receiving $1 500. It's not a bad amount of money, and it provides a great opportunity for a sound designers' work to be used on millions of headsets worldwide. The competition runs until 17 April, and the winners will be announced on 24 April.
According to reports by IFPI and some other data available, it seems that Spotify doubled its market share in 2011 as compared to 2010. And by market share we mean the global streaming music market as followed by International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
Also, according to public records the company had filed in the UK we can tell Spotify's revenue was $99 million in 2010. Towards the end of 2010 they also shared that they had some 750 000 paying subscribers world wide. According to IFPI estimates, the global market for subscription services had about 8,2 millioin paying users. This yields Spotify a market share of around 9,1% in 2010.
The court's order to make Elisa block access to certain websites became our most retweeted story yesterday. It received almost 1500 retweets in about 24 hours. I'm sure the plaintiff didn't anticipate the implications this will have, not only on Elisa but on a variety of other things - potentially even harming themselves. The more significant result to this is perhaps that Finland received a lot of negative publicity in the digital media space for its court's decision. In a time when countries are competing for appeal in the eye of digital media entrepreneurs, a lot of potential candidates saw Finland's position diminish. This may sound far fetched, but it really isn't. Let me explain why.
It appears to be a Spotify fest lately ever since the music streaming service announced their partnership with Facebook, bringing the service almost instantly to millions of Facebook users. Due to their reach in more countries, Spotify now announced they reached 2.5 million paying subscribers of the service.
While it would have been great if Spotify shared details on their user demographics, Spotify has kept this information in the shadows. What is more important here is that Spotify has managed to achieve this feat at a time where many listeners have been getting music for free from pirating. To have paying subscribers means that your users love the service and that they don’t mind paying a fee to avail more features, rather a “better user experience”.
How much do you value your favorite musicians? I suppose if you were an economist you might say something like, "by calculating the present day value of future cash flows," and TuneRights would be just the site for you. Musicians are looking for any way to monetize their works these days, and a Swedish startup is trying to provide them a way to get cash upfront for their songs-- by selling part of their songs' rights to their fans.
Today, Spotify is trying to rapidly expand to every platform. The music streaming service has had things moving in the right direction, and the deal with Facebook seems to have supercharged its expansion. Last week Spotify announced the release of the Spotify app for the Windows Phone 7 devices. Big news and another platform to grow with, and there seems to be no stopping for the service.
The application is branded in the stylish WP7 Metro style, and is available for almost all the Windows Phone 7 devices. It has all the major features that every Spotify user would love, including:
Radio is one of the few mass media technologies that has not been widely explored by start-ups. While many companies build services around music and news, few combine both in smart ways. Tuubio, a start-up from Helsinki that has been in stealth mode for the last 5 months, has just launched their service - a personalized radio app. For the moment it is available only on Android phones or tablets with a browser-based client and an iOS app coming up soon.
About two weeks ago we reported on Facebook integrating Spotify to the social network for music streaming. A partnership that had mixed reaction from across the globe given that Spotify isn’t available in every region. At the end of last week, Spotify stretched itself further into our living rooms by announcing its partnership with Western Digital.
LoudEvents is a matchmaking service. Don’t mistake it to be the same as boy finds girl, boy likes girl and they get connected eventually. The service comes as part of a startup - LoudRevolution - and its claim to fame is its ability to help artists find the best venues for their next performance and find a fellow artist to perform with in that venue.
Music fans are bands' most precious resource. They can take artists to fame and earn them money. Creating and maintaining a strong fanbase is, therefore, extremely important for any band. Mobile Backstage offers artists directly engage with their core fans through a fully customized mobile app. Now their solution is also available as a Facebook app, though for the moment it is in free invite-only beta. Artists can apply for an invite here. Steam Republic, the company behind Mobile Backstage, also hired a new Chief Marketing Officer - David Hazan, a seasoned professional in music industry that would help the Helsinki-based start-up establish presense in the US.
The first Finnish online rock venue, Jenkatehdas, gets funded by Tekes and two business angels: Jyrki Kontio and Topi Löppönen. The amount of angel investment was not disclosed, though it is known that Tekes invested 140,000€ project money into the start-up. The money will speed up the company's growth and help it start international expansion. Jenkatehdas host live concerts in their studio which are streamed in real-time on their website. Users need to purchase tickets (priced at about 5€) in order to watch the concerts and interact with each other and the band.
Everybody likes playing a music instrument, though a lot of us don't really know how to. That is partially why game consoles that make us feel like we know what we're doing are so popular. Learning to play a real instrument is much harder and is definitely more tedious: you have to practice a lot before you can play a Beatles song. That is why Ovelin, a Finnish start-up, decided to develop Wild Chords, a computer game that is played with a real guitar. We talked with Chris Thür, co-founder and CEO, to find out more about the game and the company behind it.
Indymusic discovery platform from Finland, Hitlantis, this week closed a substantial angle round worth $1.5M. The team of investors include senior Nokia executives, JSH Capital Oy, Hasan & Partners, PM Ruukki Oy, Notion Oy, Rock Island Investment Oy, T&T Enterprises Oy, as well as other private individuals from the media and telecom sectors. The new funds will be used for product development and market expansion in 'key territories'. What those territories include was not stated but one can guess US is one of them. Asia is the other: Hitlantis recently launched a localized version of their service in South Korea and hinted that other markets would be opened soon. Moreover, unofficial sources claim the company plans a series A round of up to $7M for the fall.
Playmysong, a Finnish start-up that lets visitors in venues choose songs to be played there, launched their service in the Roxy Theater, one of the most legendary rock clubs in Los Angeles. Playmysong ventured to US earlier this spring, their first location being Overlook NYC bar in New York. Roxy Theater is the first location to use the service in California. Getting an impressive venue like that to use Playmysong is a huge bonus when it comes to customer acquisition.
This is definitely making things for Spotify as (unconfirmed) reports rolled out that Facebook will be launching a music streaming service. This is expected to be launched in the first week of June. The service is currently being tested and upon launch will have users of the social network seeing a Spotify icon just beneath the Photos and other links on the left hand side.
GigsWiz, a Finnish startup that empowers artists to assist their promoters in selling more concert tickets online, revamped its site layout, making it way more interactive than the previous design. Moreover, as the blog post on the announcement of the new design claims, GigsWiz will soon release a 'shell bomb behind the curtain'. While waiting for it to drop, it is worth taking a closer look at the new design.
Spotify has taken a major step forward today with the announcment of their new feature to enable iPod syncing. Previously, the company has enabled mobile syncing to only premium customers, but today - that too is being opened up to everybody. However, it isn't quite what you're expecting. Spotify mobile opening up to everybody basically means that you're able to use the mobile application to play your own MP3-files and sync them to the application from your computer. Nevertheless, this is a big step forward for Spotify in being the "one-music-application to rule them all".
Spotify announced today that they will limit the Spotify Free account from May 1st in a few different ways. The reason behind all this is naturally to further monetise and convert those using Spotify Free to the premium accounts. At the end of March, the company also announced, as part of its move to further monetise the user base, to give all new premium subscribers a free 7-day test of the service before billing anything.
Back in December 2010 we mentioned Digia’s entry into the music scene with a new mobile app called Flow’d. The application enables users to connect with their favorite artists and in doing so, gives artists some nice tools to engage their fans. The app isn’t a new idea but rather an improvement to previous location based applications that adds more value to the existing concept.