Techstars Music 2020: Growing Global Capital for Music Tech

Aug 22, 2019

Entertainment One joins the Techstars Music Membership; Techstars Music startups have now raised $67 million in post-Techstars funding

Here in the United States it is back-to-school season. New notebooks, new goals, and with a little luck, fresh perspectives and opportunities to grow. The same applies for Techstars Music— it’s time to find the next class of startups for our 2020 accelerator. Public applications are now OPEN.

Over the next four-and-a-half months Techstars Music will host open office hours (see full list below, starting with this weekend in New York!) in 12+ cities in more than eight countries, looking for world-class teams solving real problems for the global music business. In December, we’ll invest $1.2 million into 10 startups ($120,000 USD each) and invite them to join us for our 13-week program in Los Angeles on February 4, 2020.

Once in LA, these 10 startups will work directly with some of the most powerful companies in music, the Techstars Music Members. For 2020, the Techstars Music Member companies are Warner Music GroupQ Prime ManagementBill Silva EntertainmentSonyConcordRoyalty ExchangeRecoChoku, AVEX Inc., Peloton and…

…we are thrilled to announceEntertainment One, the global independent studio known for horror film Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark, hit television series The Rookie and children’s staples Peppa Pig and PJ MaskseOne also manages UK mega DJ/Producer Jax Jones and is the label that launched LA’s hottest rapper Blueface.

We’ll work directly with the eOne music and innovation teams, but like all members, we’ll have the ability to connect startups into any relevant aspect of their business. With 15 offices around the world, eOne is poised to immediately contribute real, meaningful help to our growing music tech ecosystem. Welcome aboard!

So… that’s a formidable team of artist managers, live event companies, streaming platforms, consumer product manufacturers and global rights-holders, all working to accelerate startups and attract more capital to the music tech ecosystem.

What does that mean practically? Over the last two years, our members have helped startups break into the Japanese market via national television, secure global distribution for music content, and negotiate experimental licenses for some of the most valuable music content on the planet. They’ve also made 10 direct follow-on investments into Techstars Music alumni.

In addition to our member companies, Techstars Music startups also spend time with hundreds of world-class mentors from music, tech and venture capital who #GiveFirst to help our portfolio companies build their businesses. Outcomes here include live-event experiments, automotive and major brand partnerships, artist collaborations, and national press.

But what about the capital and fundraising? Is all this working? Let me answer that by telling you a little bit of the Techstars Music backstory.

When we started raising money for Techstars Music in late 2015, we got a lot of befuddled looks from our friends in venture capital. “Good luck with that,” they would say. “We don’t invest in music companies.”

That “no music investments” position — which is still pretty common, even in 2019 — is based largely on a single issue: the cost of licensing music for playback in a consumer service like Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music Unlimited.

Our thesis, we’d explain, is much broader: “We’ve been watching the growth of streaming, the adoption of mobile devices around the world, and growing power of machine learning to create content,” I’d say. “We believe the streaming transition will be a catalyst for reinventing the way we create, market, monetize and interact with music. We will invest in global companies solving problems for music; not just music companies.”

The music business understood, even if the venture community was skeptical. We immediately had support from Warner Music GroupQ Prime ManagementBill Silva EntertainmentSilva Artist Management and Sony Music. Those companies joined Techstars Music as our founding members (or LPs) and in February of 2017, we made our first 11 investments.

Fast-forward to summer of 2019, and there are now 30 companies in our portfolio hailing from eleven different countries — France, England, Spain, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Chile, Canada, Hungary, Germany and the USA. Our annual demo day has grown to be attended by 300+ investors, executives and leaders from the global music and media business.

We’ve also expanded the Techstars Music Membership each year: adding innovators like Royalty Exchange alongside global players RecoChoku and Concord in 2018, and welcoming Japanese powerhouse AVEX Inc. and fitness-tech leaders Peloton, as well as expanding our relationship with Sony to include the full array of their global businesses and their investment fund in 2019. And of course, like I mentioned above, we’re thrilled to add another global power-player in Entertainment One for 2020 and beyond.

And most importantly, Techstars Music portfolio companies raise real funding, from real venture investors. As of this writing, 17 of our 30 accelerator alumni have raised a combined $67 million in post-program funding, and there are several more fundraising rounds still in progress.

Where did this capital come from? It came from venture funds like Foundry GroupKhosla VenturesHorizon VenturesKima VenturesTwo Sigma VenturesSony Innovation FundAmazon’s Alexa FundPlus Eight Equity PartnersAlven CapitalGlobal Founders CapitalSinai VenturesSmart HubPillar VCRight Side Capital, and more… with many others to be disclosed soon.

Oh, and we had our first acquisition, too! Our friends at Acast purchased Techstars Music 2017 alumni company Pippa in May of this year. You can read my live-tweeting of the announcement here — an evening I will cherish for the rest of my career.

In summary… Yes, it’s working. 

Of course, we still have a lot of work to do. Yes, we still encounter plenty of investors who are immediately music averse, and yes, we still have to explain the broad nature of our thesis in a lot of meetings. But not every meeting; not anymore. A little track-record goes a long way. 

Is your startup next? See below, and let’s meet up.

— Bob Moczydlowsky, @bobmoz Managing Director, Techstars Music


Do you have a world-class team solving a real, global-scale problem for music and entertainment? Below are the dates and locations where we’ll be meeting with candidate companies. On many of these dates, we’ll be joined by both alumni companies and Techstars Music Members.

We’re looking for startups solving big problems in the realms of media personalization, e-commerce, live event security and experience, artist discovery and management, ticketing, new media creation, digital goods, media- and music-related gaming, artificial intelligence, big data analysis and back-end infrastructure.

Want to meet with us and pitch your company? Click the dates below and signup!


Saturday, August 24th — SIGN UP LINK

Monday, October 28th — SIGN UP LINK


Wednesday, September 4th — SIGN UP LINK

Wednesday, October 16th — SIGN UP LINK

Thursday, October 17th — SIGN UP LINK

Tuesday, November 5th — SIGN UP LINK


Wednesday, September 11th — SIGN UP LINK


Tuesday, September 17th — SIGN UP LINK


Wednesday, September 18th — SIGN UP LINK


Tuesday, October 8th — SIGN UP LINK


Thursday, October 10th — SIGN UP LINK

Friday, October 11th — SIGN UP LINK


Tuesday, October 22nd — SIGN UP LINK

Tuesday, November 19th — SIGN UP LINK


Friday, October 25th — SIGN UP LINK


Thursday, November 21st — SIGN UP LINK

Friday, November 22nd — SIGN UP LINK


Tuesday, November 26th — SIGN UP LINK


Friday, November 29th — SIGN UP LINK

PS — We’re hiring! We’re looking for a new Program Manager to help us run the program. Take a look, and send us your amazing candidate referrals.