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Inside Abbey Road's incubation programme for music technology start-ups

Laura  Barnes
Inside Abbey Road's incubation programme for music technology start-ups

Last year, the most famous recording studio in the UK announced a programme called Abbey Road Red, aimed at fostering new music-tech start-ups from across the globe.

After much media attention and an overwhelming amount of applicants, Abbey Road selected three promising businesses in March 2016. This week the programme has showcased the entrepreneurs that it has been working closely with over the past 6 months, and MI Pro was lucky enough to be invited along to see how the iconic studio is continuing to live up to its reputation in music innovation.

“Over the past 85 years Abbey Road has seen a huge number of radical changes in the technological and commercial landscapes around music,” said Isabel Garvey, Abbey Road Studios’ MD, at the showcase.

“We’ve seen a lot of change in how music is created and performed, in the way it’s recorded, distributed, stored, discovered and even consumed. These changes aren’t of just academic interest; they have a profound impact on all businesses operating in the music industry.
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Throughout all of those changes, Abbey Road has not just survived – it has thrived. Abbey Road has constantly shape shifted and adapted with the times.”

In the fast-paced world of not just technology in general, but the advancements in home record, one has to wonder how Abbey Road has managed to stay relevant throughout the years.

“I believe the reason is that throughout the years, the staff at Abbey Road, and the clients and partners that we’ve worked with, have been united in the common spirit of adventure and the desire to really push the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Garvey.

“What this has meant is that Abbey Road has not just been keeping up, but also at many points played a significant role in pushing forward, playing host to some immense advancements and landmark achievements throughout the years.”

Garvey has every right to make such bold statements. Abbey Road has played host to some of the music world’s most notable producers, including Ken Townsend, who invented the groundbreaking studio effect known as automatic double tracking in the 50s. Go back a little further to 1934, and Abbey Road was where stereo sound was invented.

Back to the present day, and Abbey Road Red is continuing this legacy.

“We set up Red with the general idea that Abbey Road stays current,” said Jon Eades, project manager at Abbey Road Studios. “We spoke to a lot of people and found that there was a bit of a gap around supporting music technology entrepreneurs. There were a lot of generic start-up incubation programmes and even some sector specific programmes popping up, but there was nothing in Europe dedicated to music technology start-ups.

“With Red we spend time really getting to know the businesses we’re working with and get them to network into Abbey Road as well as our parent company Universal. We realised that we could help these businesses across every challenge that early-stage entrepreneurs face, including things like licensing discussions, general advice around product positioning, financing rounds, product testing, all sorts of stuff.”

The three companies picked for the first wave of the programme were Uberchord, CloudBounce and Ossic.

Uberchord is a mobile app for learning guitar. It combines chordal recognition and an adaptive teaching method to create a unique way to learn.

The app not only tells users how to play a chord, but also corrects them when they make a mistake, learns their skill level and slowly increases the difficulty of the lessons as they improve.

“The Abbey Road Red program was extremely helpful for Uberchord's business development. The team helped us with our license negotiations, public relations, marketing and branding development, and the planning of our further go-to market strategy. Being right at the core of the music industry they have all the right contacts and ideas to take us forward,” said Uberchord.

CloudBounce uses algorithm-based mastering technology to deliver high-quality cloud-based audio mastering for amateur musicians, bands and sound designers.

Its mastering engine analyses an audio file and applies just the right amount of audio processing ingredients to make it sound powerful and crystal clear, providing a mastered song in minutes.

Talking about its experience with Red, CloudBounce commented: “The incubator experience has been great for us, with many platform partners interested and help with the product positioning from Abbey Road Studios. Furthermore, the mastering engineers have been super helpful in making the audio processing more robust.”

Last but not least, OSSIC X is the world’s first 3D audio headphone that instantly calibrates to the listener. By pairing advanced 3D audio algorithms with head-tracking and individual anatomy calibration it delivers incredibly accurate 3D sound to user’s ears.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better experience with the Abbey Road Red programme. Not only did the team share our mission to push the boundaries of sound, they helped us get there every step of the way,” said Ossic.

“Since day one of the programme they were right there with us during key product milestones, offering insights that helped us test and develop the OSSIC X to ensure the best possible music listening experience, while also providing key connections with the music industry as a whole.”

As well as presentations of these three innovative businesses, Abbey Road Red also unveiled the next three start-ups it will be taking on: The Audio Hunt, Qrates and Scored.

The Audio Hunt is an online marketplace and community that gives musicians, engineers, producers and everyone in between access to impressive audio gear and services.

Qrates is a vinyl crowdfunding platform that allows artists and labels to collect pre-orders from fans and fund their cost before actually pressing the vinyl.

And Scored is a next generation music library and film scoring application that allows users of all ability levels to dynamically change music in real-time to match their content.

Find out more about Abbey Road Red at abbeyroad.com/abbeyroadred

Tags: abbey road studios , music technology , Abbey Road Red , start-ups , Ossic , CloudBounce , Uberchord

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