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Swimming WIth Narwhals
A Music Tech Startup Competition

Narwhals

Spotlighting creative startups through this competition is one of the ways the Music Tectonics conference focuses on music innovation—wherever it’s shaking up the industry!

Congratulations to Audioshake!

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Congratulations finalists!

Meet the Semifinalists

An audience of conference attendees witnessed the final round of pitches at the Music Tectonics Conference before a jury of experienced investors:

  • Meng Ru Kuok, CEO of BandLab

  • Brian Mac Mahon, head of the accelerator Expert DOJO

  • Joe Tou, MD of Sony Innovation Fund

 

Jury Choice and Audience Choice winners were announced October 27 at the event.

Our panel of experts and investors selected ten fresh companies from an exceptional pool of applicants. Each one is poised to transform the music industry!

They pitched live at an online semi-final pitch event on September 7, 2021 at 9AM PT | 12PM ET | 5PM UK
The semi-final jury selected four startups to move on to the final round of the competition, live and in-person at the Music Tectonics Conference.

All conference badgeholders were invited to attend the event to witness the pitches, network, and Q&A with the semi-final jury:

  • Fred McIntyre (Capacitance, Managing Director)​

  • Isabelle Persson (Expert Dojo, Head of Investment)

  • Tom Windish (Wasserman Music, EVP, Head of Business Development and A&R)

Eligibility

Eligibility

Applicant companies must:

  • be less than 5 years old.

  • have a working demo of a product/service/platform or a finished product.

  • work in any part of the music innovation ecosystem: creating, distributing, listening to, or monetizing music; managing rights or data, engaging fans, running live music events, and more.

Badge Scholarships:

If the badge price is a barrier to participation, Music Tectonics is offering three badge scholarships to startup pitch competition applicants. Email Shayli by July 22 to apply, explaining briefly what this support means to you and your company.

 

Preference for badge scholarships will be given to founders who are from groups that are underrepresented in tech and music industry leadership.

Timeline

Timeline

July 11, 2022     Applications open
August 3           DEADLINE EXTENDED - Applications close at 11:59pm Pacific Time
August 12         Last day to purchase badges at Early Bird rate 

August 16          Semi-finalists announced
September 7   Semi-finalists pitch at online Swimming with Narwhals event. 
September 14  Four finalists announced.
October 25       Startup Carousel demos at the Music Tectonics Conference in Santa Monica, CA.
October 26       Finalists pitch in-person at the conference.
October 27       Jury choice and Audience Choice winners announced at the conference. 

FAQ

FAQ

What do the winning startups receive?

  • Feature in a press release about the competition

  • Founder interviews on the Music Tectonics Podcast after the event

  • Free badge for the 2023 conference


Winning the 2022 competition does not come with a monetary prize or investment, but winners benefit from recognition and the warm embrace of the Music Tectonics community.  The winner of the first “Swimming with Narwhals” competition in 2020, Jacquelle Amankonah Horton, sees the experience as a springboard for her startup Fave, a platform for fans to unite and support their favorite artists with passion and creativity. “Winning the Music Tectonics startup competition completely catapulted my company,” Horton recalls. “It was the first time I spoke publicly about my vision outside of moonlighting on the project, and the direct support I received from the judges, industry leads who saw or heard of me from this stage, and the amazing fellow attendee community is what led to me closing a $2.2M seed round from top industry companies just a few months later. So grateful and feel indebted to the MT family for this kickoff.”

 

Why should I attend the conference if I am not selected as a finalist?

So many reasons!

 

  • Networking: Even before you get to Santa Monica, we’re designing an online Semi-Final Pitch event for all competition applicants and badgeholders. Network with your cohort and get advice from our panel of judges at a Q&A. MT online events are fun, fast-paced, and dynamic- a far cry from the usual webinar. 

  • Visibility: The first day of the conference features a Startup Carousel - a ring of startup demo tables at Santa Monica’s historic Merry-go-round. The first 15 competition applicants have top priority to join the finalists and present their demos.

 

  • Getting Business Done: Conference attendees tell us every year that they meet new partners, clients, and investors at Music Tectonics. Music Tectonics makes space for meeting and building relationships outside panels and keynotes with breaks on the schedule and a third conference day for your meetings.

 

  • Planning for the future: Innovation in the Music Tech space thrives on conversation and connection across industry boundaries. Get ideas and actionable insights for your startup by taking part in deep conversations about the future of music and tech.

I have a great startup, but I’m bootstrapping and I can’t afford the cost of a conference badge. What should I do?

Apply for a badge scholarship! Music Tectonics is offering three badge scholarships to startup pitch competition applicants. Email Shayli by July 22 to apply, explaining briefly what this support means to your company. 

 

Preference for badge scholarships will be given to founders who are from groups that are underrepresented in tech and music industry leadership.

Why Narwhals?

Sometimes called the “unicorn whale,” the mascot represents the spirit and goals of the competition. Invoking the real one-horned animal gently pokes fun at the cultural obsession with billion-dollar unicorn startups, keeping the focus on real-world innovators who are poised to make waves in the music industry. And while shark tanks pit founders against each other and antagonistic judges, the Music Tectonics competition is designed to be welcoming and mutually supportive.

​What's the story behind this competition?

See the 2021 competition page to find out who competed and who won!

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