The annual Midemlab startup competition in Cannes attracted another strong lineup of music-related companies that are targeting an industry undergoing massive disruption.
The competition received 234 submissions from 42 countries. I served on a jury for startups pitching in “Experiential Technology,” one of four categories in the competition. Here is the winner, along with the four other finalists in the category:
France’s Enhancia makes a connected ring called Neova that allows musicians to control the sound effects for their instruments using gestures. The product includes a hub that can be plugged into a computer or a synthesizer and uses MIDI technologies for the effects. The company will sell the hardware and is developing additional gesture-recognition effects that will be sold separately.
Onstage, Flexound demonstrated Humu, a smart cushion you put behind your head that allows you to feel sound waves. The product can be purchased by consumers and used with any mobile device, computer, or video game player. But the company thinks the bigger market is selling the cushions to movie theaters to enhance the Dolby Atmos experience.
Belgium’s Jooki has created a smart speaker system for kids that’s designed to give parents greater control. Jooki’s speakers play music when kids place a small toy or physical character in the center of the speaker. The connected toy works with a playlist that parents can associate with it and starts playing automatically. The service pairs with Deezer and Spotify accounts. In addition to selling directly to consumers, the company sees a big opportunity in creating promotional figurines for things like movies.
U.K.-based Landmrk has built a platform that lets musicians create augmented reality experiences to promote their music and tours. The company refers to itself as a kind of “Pokémon Go” for the music industry. Artists and their creative team place virtual content in physical spaces and encourage fans to find the objects to unlock things like videos, album tracks, or ticket sales. One of the company’s biggest clients is Shakira, who used Landmrk with the release of her latest album.
Hong Kong-based WowTune has developed technology that reproduces voices — speaking and singing — from clips of sound found online. The business angle would essentially be to allow celebrities’ voices to be licensed to produce content for third parties. For instance, in theory, one could license Michael Jackson’s voice from his estate to record a new song. As part of the development, the company has also created a WowTune app that lets users record their voices singing to short song clips, add effects, and then publish the result to be seen by other users of the app.
Worth mentioning are the winners in the three other Midemlab pitch categories:
- Music creation & education Lirica (UK..)
- Music discovery & distribution: Laylo (U.S.)
- Marketing & data/analytics: Seated (U.S.)
Each of the four winners receives meetings with Deezer CEO Hans-Holger Albrecht, a Kima Ventures partner, and Techstars Music startup accelerator.