Music Tech Startup Competition

US BandLab Presents Swimming with Narwhals at the Music Tectonics Conference      03/08/21

Music Tech Startup Competition

BandLab has announced support for the Music Tectonics Conference pitch competition. Applications are now open for "BandLab Presents Swimming with Narwhals: A Music Tech Startup Competition" at the 2021 Music Tectonics Conference. The conference takes place online on two innovative event platforms on October 25-27, and in-person in the Los Angeles area on November 2.

BandLab CEO Meng Ru Kuok, told us, "One of our biggest company values at BandLab is innovation. On a personal basis, I'm excited by the possibilities out there beyond what we already do within our wider group. I'm passionate about supporting the future BandLabs of the world."

Here's the details direct from BandLab...

At Music Tectonics' 2021 conference, Kuok's vision leads to a pitch competition that's no shark tank. Narwhals are the gentle unicorns of the sea. And Kuok's dedication to music tech innovation translates into tangible incentive for the pitching startups: his personal investment fund Caldecott Ventures has earmarked up to $50,000 to invest in one of the competition winners.

Kuok and Caldecott Ventures have a clear mission for the impact of their investment. "With our experience as operators comes a different level of value-add and understanding we can bring to the companies we invest in. The investments and startups Caldecott Ventures has been placing our bets on have consumer, music, or media angles, and place technology at the core of everything they do just as BandLab does."

The winner of the first "Swimming with Narwhals" competition in 2020, Jacquelle Amankonah Horton, shows that the music tech community at Music Tectonics can spot talent. The pandemic-era all-online conference format allowed the pitch competition to include a diverse range of five finalists from India, Europe, and the US. After a panel of investors and experts heard pitches and interviewed founders, conference attendees voted for Horton's startup Fave, a platform for fans to unite and support their favorite artists with passion and creativity.

Horton's pitch aligned presciently with the topics that music industry analyst Mark Mulligan explored at the 2020 conference - the potential of monetizing fandom and the rise of creator tools. Since that pitch, Jacquelle has taken Fave through TechStars Music's accelerator program and completed a first $2.2M funding round with investments from music industry heavyweights including HYBE, Sony Music, Warner Music Group, and Concord Music.

Each year, Music Tectonics has expanded its scope, and 2021 is no exception. While innovation in recorded music was the focus at the inaugural conference in 2019, 2020 added panels on the live music industry and livestreaming. In 2021, the conference is growing again to include programming on music creation and production, thanks to "Supernova Maker" sponsors BandLab, LANDR, and Native Instruments.

BandLab Presents Swimming with Narwhals: A Music Tech Startup Competition Eligibility:

  • Applicant companies must be startups with a valuation under US$2 million to participate.
  • Applicant companies can be across any part of the music tech ecosystem with a new additional emphasis on music creation and fan-facing companies.
  • Applicants must purchase a conference ticket to be eligible for the startup competition. (Early Bird Tickets are available until August 6, 2021!)


Competition Structure:

  • Applications close on August 16, 2021 at 5:00 pm Pacific Time.
  • Semi-finalists will be announced on October 1, 2021.
  • Ten semi-finalists will pitch at an online pre-conference event on October 18, 2021.
  • Four finalists will pitch at the online conference on October 25, 2021.
  • Jury Choice and Audience Choice winners will be announced on October 26, 2021.


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