Techstars Music announces its 2021 class and a partnership with Quality Control

This morning Techstars Music is announcing 11 new companies that have joined its ranks, along with a partnership with Atlanta media company/record label Quality Control.

While it’s easy to mentally bunch everything Techstars does together under the singular “Techstars” name, it’s actually made up of 40+ interconnected accelerator programs each with its own focus and portfolio. The majority of these are focused on a specific region — programs like Techstars Boulder, Boston or LA. Others focus on a specific vertical or industry — like sports, space, or, in this case, music.

So what all does that “music” focus cover? It’s not just music creation tools, or apps for artists. As Techstars Music Managing Director Bob Moczydlowsky put it in a Q&A last year, “we don’t invest in music companies — we invest in companies solving problems for music.”

Their past portfolio includes Endel, which generates “personalized soundscapes” meant to help you focus or fall asleep faster, and Blink Identity, a company looking to replace the paper/digital concert ticket with facial recognition machines at the venue’s entrance.

The companies in the 2021 class, in alphabetical order:

555 Comic: Develops “virtual characters” and uses them to tell stories through social media (like the tweet above). Imagine one artist having multiple “personas,” with each genre they dabble in represented by a different character, each with an evolving backstory. (Fun trivia: The number five said aloud in Japanese sounds like “Go”; the Japanese company’s name is a play on “Go Go Go!”)

BlackOakTV: A subscription, on-demand video service focusing on content made by black creators. Currently costs $4.99 a month with apps available on most major platforms.

Creative Futures Collective: A networking/mentoring program aiming to “unearth the next generation of creative industry leaders from disenfranchised backgrounds” and connect them with jobs and paid internships.

Fave: A social platform meant to help an artist’s “superfans” connect with each other and allow them to compete to earn rewards from the artist.

HappsNow: A fully white-labeled ticketing platform meant to give artists/venues more control of the experience.

Holotch: Capture volumetric 3D video with off-the-shelf technology and stream it live. Imagine an artist capturing a performance live, and being able to watch them perform in your living room through augmented reality “holograms.”

Music Tech Works: A super simplified catalog and workflow for figuring out who owns the rights to a song and acquiring a license to use it.

Image Credits: Rares

Rares: A platform for investing in shares of particularly notable sneakers — think game-worn shoes, the hardest to find or those that were never mass produced.

Remetrik: A software platform that aims to bring all of the (often labyrinthian) accounting involved with music royalties into one place in a simple and transparent way.

Volta Audio LTD: A platform for artists to build immersive mixed reality live experiences by, as the company puts it, “converting your music into an interactive world”. Artist Imogen Heap has been experimenting with the tool during performances over the last few months; we’ve embedded a bit of a recent stream above.

Westcott Multimedia: An automated advertising platform that looks for events related to a music catalog (like, say, an artist’s birthday, or a song being played in the background of a viral video) and builds marketing campaigns around them.

Along with this latest class, Techstars Music is also announcing that it’s partnering with Quality Control, the media house behind Quality Control Music — best known as the label behind Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby. Quality Control joins Techstars Music as a “member” company (sort of like their equivalent to an LP, offering investment, helping to vet companies and mentoring them once they’re in); existing members include Amazon Music, AVEX, Bill Silva Entertainment, Concord, Peloton, Entertainment One, Right Hand Music Group, Royalty Exchange, Sony and Warner Music Group.

Moczydlowsky tells me that Techstars Music alumni companies have raised over $105 million since the first class in 2017 and that the group above has already raised over $3 million ahead of its demo day in May.