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  • Writer's pictureEric Doades

Sony Ventures’ Joe Tou and Aadit Parikh Talk Music Tech Investment

This week Dmitri sits down with Aadit Parikh and Joseph Tou from Sony Ventures, gaining a unique and in-depth understanding of how Sony Ventures operates as a hybrid model between strategic and institutional VCs, and their unique approach to identifying and exploring new opportunities in the entertainment space.

Explore Sony's approach to venture capital and innovation, providing invaluable resources and insights to startups, and facilitating conversations and introductions that prove crucial during the due diligence process. Aadit and Joseph discuss how Sony’s business units and core competencies position them uniquely in the venture capital world.

Get predictions on the future of entertainment, with a fascinating discussion around Sony Venture’s investments in music tech companies. Listen as Aadit and Joseph share insights on the changing consumer behavior in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the surge in content creation driven by technology, and the significance of venture capital in the entertainment space. We also hear about their experiences from the music tech startup semi-final competition, the unique challenges associated with investing in music tech companies, and much more in this week's episode.


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Episode Transcript

Machine transcribed


0:00:10 - Dmitri

Welcome back to Music Tech Tonics, where we go beneath the surface of music and tech. I'm your host, Dmitri Vietze. I'm also the founder and CEO of Rock Paper Scissors, the PR firm that specializes in music tech, music innovation, and you know what it's narwhal season. We're in the midst of our swimming with narwhals music tech competition. We're recording today's episode the day after our semifinal, which took place on September 13th, where 10 startups from all over the world pitched before three investor judges. We had startups from South Korea, the Czech Republic, the UK, the United States, of course, and many more, and the audience came as far away as India, Mexico, Brazil. People were staying up late, getting up early. Lots of Americans showed up, of course, too.


Four of the startups will make it to the final competition, which takes place at the in-person music tech tonics conference in Santa Monica October 24th to 26th. You know we bring the entire macro system together at music tech tonics, including major DSPs, social media platforms, record labels, publishers, gaming companies and more, and we always want to make sure we bring incredible value to the music tech startups and founders who are at the heart of innovation. So we engage with some of the most active investors in music tech during our semifinal, in-person at the conference and, of course, here on the podcast, like the great interview we did a couple of weeks ago with VC Juliet Roelnek of BDMI. That was on August 30th, if you haven't checked that out. For today's episode, we have two VCs from Sony Ventures. Joining us is their director at Sony Ventures, Aadit Parikh, who's one of the judges in our semifinal. Welcome to the show, Aadit.


0:01:50 - Aadit

Hey, hey, Dmitri, how's it going?


0:01:52 - Dmitri

Great to have you again. It was great to see you yesterday on the semifinal, and also joining us is the US Managing Director of Sony Ventures, Joseph Tou, who you may have met at last year's conference. Welcome to the show, Joe.


Joe

Hi Dmitri, thanks for having us.


Dmitri

Yeah, I'm pumped to have you both here and I'm excited that the two of you will be speaking or judging at our final competition at the in-person conference as well. So let's dive in and we want to give our listeners good bang for the buck here. Tell us about Sony Ventures. What is it and what is the investment thesis?


0:02:30 - Joe

Yeah, so Sony Ventures is the venture investment arm, as you might imagine, for Sony Group Corporation. We are actually managing four funds known as Sony Innovation Fund, and when we invest, we're actually investing independent of our business units. So, as an example, in the case of Sony Music, we are looking at things independently of Sony Music but still checking with them on investment theses and what they're seeing in the market. But really Sony Ventures is focused on exploring areas that Sony may or may not be even focused on. So our large businesses, which might be billion-dollar businesses, have certain strategies that they're going into and we're out here looking at things that maybe we should be looking at but haven't really come into the forefront yet. So for that, this family the Sony Innovation Fund, these four funds which generally categorizes an early-stage set of funds our early-stage investing and then mid-to-late-stage investing focuses on emerging tech in areas such as entertainment, health tech, fintech and deep tech.


We're about seven years old now and we have about 160 companies under our umbrella in our portfolio and have a presence in Japan, us, western Europe, Israel and India.


So that's just a little bit on Sony Ventures and with the product, particularly with this podcast, Aadit and I both focus on an entertainment thesis.


So entertainment, as you might imagine that Sony is a very important category, seeing that we're a very unique company in this category globally across the world, and our investment thesis there is, in short, what we deem to be the future of entertainment. So it's a belief that content creation, content distribution, content consumption and all the respective funnels are changing today, and the way that content is brought to market and the way that people are using it, especially in a COVID, post-covid world, is something that's front and center, I think, in everybody's life. So we're seeing a lot of innovation in this space these days on how people do this, and so we are out there looking at various technologies out there, everything from Gen AI, which is obviously a center of conversation these days, but also like UGC platforms, the creator economy platforms and the such. So we think that there's a lot of things going on that are disruptive. There's a lot of things that are democratizing content along the way, and we're looking into a lot of different companies serving those sectors from different perspectives.


0:05:28 - Dmitri

Got it. Very cool, so I like the way you're contextualizing it for our audience too. Since we do have this music tech and music innovation focus and I'm sure a lot of our listeners, especially from the startup side, are kind of exploring the diversity and variety of the potential investment partners, I'm curious how Sony Ventures differ from other VCs that this music innovation field might be following?


0:05:54 - Joe

Well, I mean, when we think about VCs, that's a pretty broad category, so let's just talk about it two different ways. One is from an institutional VC, which is people who are it is business that is to invest in other kinds of corporate VCs, which is aligned more with companies and strategics that are typically investing for a variety of different strategic reasons. For us, we are a strategic VC, but not in the sense that we're there to support our core BUs or business units, but more in the sense that we're out there trying to explore on behalf of the company. So, while we're in returns focus, we're kind of a hybrid between the two of institutional and strategic VCs. We are returns focus number one, but we're also out there exploring the various avenues that we think will impact Sony, regardless of where our business units are actually pointed.


So the way we think about it from a corporate perspective is that we have a global footprint. So we have people in the geographies that I just mentioned Japan, Israel, Western Europe, US, India to be able to have people present in local markets and to be able to serve them globally, something that's pretty difficult. And for us, what we're trying to think about is how Sony can activate the venture community and what we can actually give to these startups to help them grow and evolve to become what they should become. In the sense of institutions, we're also bringing a little bit different angle because our core competency, our level of resource throughout the company kind of comes into play. Our ability to diligence, our ability to get a read on what's going on in various geographies or different technologies is pretty hard to duplicate. So we think that our voice is something that's a little bit different, a little bit more hybridized between the institutions and the corporate VCs.


0:07:56 - Aadit

Yeah, and I'll piggyback on some of what Joe said, in the sense that when we make an investment, we don't guarantee a business or commercial deal with the Sony BU's, but what we do promise on the value outside that Joe is hinting on is we can help expedite some of those processes and those introductions and those conversations. Yes, we have done that during our due diligence process. So when we make an investment, we typically hit the ground running and are able to add value right away.


0:08:24 - Joe

That's right.


0:08:25 - Dmitri

That's pretty cool. The hybrid aspect is very cool. It makes sense that you would kind of want to sort of use the venture fund to do some innovation searching, some innovation testing and so forth, but at the same time be like, yeah, but we're not going to put the money in there unless we think there's going to be returns. So and then on the back end then to say, ok, if things are going well, we have opportunities to amplify this through our existing network of customers or product development, things like that.


0:08:50 - Joe

Yeah, dmitry. We just fundamentally believe that our part in the ecosystem is to help help companies grow. So if we focus on return, almost by definition they're growing, and if they stall out, I think that it's not a win for anybody the companies, society, the industries or any of the investors. So growth and an evolution of company become ultimately the key objective, any way you slice it.


0:09:20 - Dmitri

I also think it's worth bringing up that, because of Sony's business units having a specific portfolio of products, it's a unique position for VC as well. I mean, you've got ties to music, you've got ties to electronic products and you've got ties to gaming as well.


0:09:42 - Joe

That's right.


0:09:42 - Dmitri

Yeah, so that's a unique combination, don't forget about the movies, tv and sports.


0:09:49 - Joe

You know all these categories and entertainment. When we focus on the future of entertainment, we see these things blending, and a lot of times, all of these categories are thinking about immersion, they're thinking about interactivity, they're thinking about reaching new, new ways to reach their core audiences, and so we see a hybridization even between all these different sectors as well.


0:10:14 - Aadit

Yeah, and also electronics is another big component, and then Sony was built on innovation, so the R&D side is also something that we really kind of take advantage of and learn more through our R&D teams.


0:10:28 - Dmitri

Yeah, it's interesting. I've been in the music industry for like 25 some years a little more than that actually. I hate to say it, but I remember in some early days some music tech startups who would realize that there were applications for what they were building originally building in music, but in sports and they might jump ship on music completely and go over to sports because the, the, the TAM, was so much bigger and so much more opportunity. Then, more recently, we've seen a lot where there's this overlap between music and gaming, where you see a lot of people start in music and then they get into gaming because they realize again that's such a big market. So there's some fluidity that's available when you have that opportunity to kind of blend verticals. Yeah, go ahead.


0:11:13 - Joe

Yeah, I was just going to say, like, when we take that, look at it with the technology angle, the second, that you bring up terms like interactive, immersive, even 3D assets or something, you start to get into the realm of gaming technology, which is kind of front and center these days from a technical angle. But it's also this, this, this approach that musicians or the industry of music wants to drive into gaming, but gaming also wants to go the other way around. So we see a lot of, a lot of cross section between each of our businesses and in many ways, we're here to tie those things together from an investment perspective on emerging tech in the space.


0:11:57 - Dmitri

Okay, we need to take a quick break, but when we come back I want to ask a little bit more specifically, like what have you invested in music tech? We'll be right back.


0:12:07 - Speaker 4

Hello music tech tonics listeners. It's Shaley here with some super exciting programming updates for the conference in October. Back for the fifth year is the music tech investment panel, always a fan favorite as our panelists peel back the layers of what investors are looking for here, from Rishi Patel, plus eight equity, bruce Hamilton of Mac Ventures and Sony Ventures Joe, to moderated by none other than Tatiana Seresano, senior music industry analyst and consultant at media research. She is an expert at what's going on in the industry and she will guide this conversation flawlessly. As always, we are staying on the pulse of what's happening in the industry, so naturally I had to program a music and gaming panel.


Here from David Knox of Reaction Music, maria Egan of Riot Games and Sony Ventures investor, as we dive into the explosion of music in gaming and eSports, moderated by expert Vicki Nauman, hear how music and gaming are connected more than ever before. All right now, before we get back to the episode, there's one last conversation I wanted to highlight happening at this year's event. We'll be joined by Andrea Gleason, ceo of Tunecore, for a fireside chat with Kristen Robinson, and I'm so excited to hear what these ladies have come up with. If you haven't bought your badge yet be sure to go to musictechtonics.com to purchase it. Now Back to the episode.


0:13:33 - Dmitri

Let's flip it a little bit in terms of we've gone broad, now let's go specific. What are some examples of investments that our music tech audience should know about? What is Sony Ventures doing, or have actually done, in terms of investment that people would be like, oh okay, now I see.


0:13:49 - Aadit

Yeah, so we made a few investments and just something to make clear when we make investments it's based on our Sony Ventures team. It's not tied to any business unit, like we had said earlier. So this is based on our own perspective and our own theses. So we've made investments in Lander, tracklib, ai-enabled solutions for music creation and then also tangentially across music in Kiswee Community and Tixer. So you think about those, they kind of hit music or the music audience or the music artists in different ways. So we try to look at the different life cycle when attending concerts being part of live events. But then I think what we've seen over the last few years, particularly during COVID, is fan engagement has become a huge part of the experience during the events, but also after the event and before, and so we're trying to think about it in all different angles.


0:14:43 - Dmitri

Yeah, very cool. Well, that specificity I think helps, because those are some names we've had. We've had folks from from Lander and Tracklib in our world and music tectonics as well, and Kissway too, actually. So super cool to get specific there and that's stuff you've already invested in. When you're reviewing an investment pitch in music or entertainment and media for that matter, what types of companies or specialties interest you most right now, yeah.


0:15:09 - Aadit

So you know, Joe, hit on both of our, like our overall thesis. When looking at opportunities, I think Creator Economy is something that we're rarely focused on. So we think of creators as the next form of small businesses, and so when we think of think about that and that lens and that framework, it's content creation, distribution and monetization, and that's been evolving over the last few years with different types of products and solutions, including Web 3 and Gen AI. And then we hit on there again before is future of entertainment. You know the way that people are seeking entertainment and wanting more immersive interactive experiences, and so what we try to do is, when we look at different companies, kind of group them or allocate them into one of these different broad areas and then we kind of dive in and look deeper into how they compare to the rest of the competitive landscape. So it kind of is more of a broad general focus and then kind of diving deeper into it, and I think both these spaces I think have been evolving over the last few years, particularly after COVID, surprisingly.


0:16:14 - Dmitri

Yeah, that's interesting to hear you mention both the Web 3 and the generative AI stuff, because last year it was all Web 3 all the time and this year it's all AI all the time. And you know, running a podcast and a PR firm and working with a lot of clients in those spaces as well. It just makes me wonder sometimes, like where does the demand for these things come from? You know, it's not typically starting at the consumer level. It seems to come from the innovator level, and then you also have to ask the question well, how are those innovators actually getting this to market? Which means it's almost like the VCs have to co-sign on these innovations for it to actually come to market. And so it's kind of valuable, I think, just for our audience to hear that VCs are interested in those spaces.


You know, if you look at it from a consumer's perspective or do media scanning, and actually even before the Web 3 stuff was the Metaverse stuff too, right, like there was the live streaming piece, there's the Clubhouse story and everyone was jumping on that. Then there was the kind of the Metaverse thing which was that VR or was it something else, and it's interesting you know to think about sort of you know, there can be kind of a hype cycle in the media and it's not always clear like does that align with where investors are going? Does that align with where consumers are going as well? So anyway, interesting to hear on that topic.


0:17:36 - Joe

Yeah, I mean, dmitri. I think it's important to recognize, like in entertainment specifically, that we're in some pretty interesting times right now. You know COVID has been going on for quite some time and during COVID I would just say that I don't think I can recall any time in you know modern history where the entire earth, the you know of humans, have changed their behavior all at once. Right, and what that did was it accelerated some things. You know, one we found out as people like how social we really are. So even the most introverted person seeks community, maybe on a broad based level, and a really extroverted person might seek community at a very individual level. But regardless, people needed to reach out and in a COVID world where you couldn't do that physically things, that technology became essentially very important.


And so what we saw in massive behaviors if you look at like things like video conferencing or phone conferencing, you know those things all change.


You know people from age three years old to 90 years old, all embraced an ability to know how to talk, be comfortable on a camera, be comfortable on a phone, embrace technology in order to reach out to other people, and we think that that has fundamentally changed, like these funnels about how content actually gets to marketing.


More people want to produce content, more people can get it out to market, more people have different ways to reach different people, and it's a web of things so these funnels have changed and that has ultimately caused a change in behavior on how you consume all these things, and so all these companies are out there trying to make these things happen. Venture certainly has a play in it because of the amount of capital that is deployed, but the thing to focus on, I think, here for investors is we have a change in human behavior, so there's a social desire and a social demand to know how to use these tools and actually to use them and demand them, as opposed to just a piece of tech that's out there waiting for somebody to use it. I think it's really important to recognize what these last four years or three and a half years have represented for us.


0:19:56 - Aadit

Yeah, and I'll add one more thing to that, Dmitri. On the Sony Venture side, we've been monitoring the Web 3 and Gen AI space very actively, talking to numerous different companies, and some of our portfolio companies have shifted and added some Web 3 capabilities or utilized Gen AI. But as a team on Sony Ventures, we have not actually invested, at least on the entertainment gaming end, in Web 3 solutions or in a company that does Gen AI, and the reason is there is a lot of innovation happening. Things are changing on a daily, hourly basis, and so some of the things that we look at are you know, we are very cautious and wary of what the hype cycles look like and the valuations we enter because, like we said earlier, we're a trans-focused investor. So that's something else that we consider when looking at these different trends is, we understand the value that they bring to the table and what they mean for the industry, but we're also very wary as investors when you know making and putting capital into play.


0:20:58 - Dmitri

Yeah, great point. Scott Cohen was on the podcast a while back and he used that phrase the second mouse gets the cheese. So there's, it's not always you're not always wrong to kind of sit back and watch where things go before you jump in and you know, before we move on. Like, I'm really intrigued by this focus on the creator economy side, especially for music, because it looks like something big is happening. That's kind of already happened for photography, it's already happened for media in terms of, like you know, blogging and all that kind of stuff.


We went from a handful of media outlets to lots of web based media outlets. Then all of a sudden everybody was blogging and then everybody was tweeting or xing or doing whatever it is they do now. And just yesterday on our pre conference, mark Mulligan from media research said everyone's up in arms about this. 100,000 or 120,000 songs a day that are getting distributed to the DSPs it's going to be millions a day is what he's saying. And to me, like what you're saying about like leaning in on the creator economy, that's that's what he was sort of talking about. But I'm curious if you guys have thoughts on how music will change as a result of this huge growth, and I know I'm just throwing that question out there, but I'm just intrigued by it.


0:22:21 - Aadit

I was going to say, like you know, there's companies like the make it of the world and others that are out there that they're democratizing those tool sets for creators.


So I think what you're going to see is anyone in their, you know, bedroom can start creating a song. It's already happening, and now the quality of that can increase even more, and so that to me is super exciting is that, you know, folks that are fans can now be actually actively invested in it, similar to what happened with photography, with, like, instagram and so forth. So I think the tools provide access and provide a platform for individuals to start getting more involved and, you know, actively being being part of the process and doing things in the music creation, which is super exciting, because not everyone is able to spend hours and hours, you know, learning a learning instrument, but now you could audio tune your voice and now, all of a sudden, you could do certain things that you couldn't do before. So it's exciting, but, at the same time, there's a lot of you know things that we have to also think about on the regulatory and legal side as well when going into these different solutions.


0:23:31 - Dmitri

It's funny you bring up make, as you know, because you were there yesterday with the semi-final for swimming in our walls. Stefan from make pitched and right in the middle of his pitch he was like and we realized we didn't make it dumb and fun enough, we had to make it dumber and funner, and I just thought that was so interesting. Like that's a shift in thinking like versus like you have to make it perfect, you have to make it studio ready, you know, like you have to make it sound great, or you have to make it so easy that anybody can do it, and I think that's a shift that we're we're seeing right now. Adi, I'm curious you were there yesterday as a judge at the swimming with narwhals music tech startups semi-final competition. How was your experience?


0:24:13 - Aadit

Yeah, look, last year I was part of the the finals competition, so that was super exciting. So you know, I saw those four or five companies last year. This year was more like a broader group and I was impressed with how, how creative some of these solutions are. You know, jenny, I came through like the last eight months and I think six or seven of the companies had used AI in their, in their business model and then, like you had mentioned earlier, they're coming from all over the world and from Europe and Asia and so forth. So you know, it's it's funny to see how so many different people are attacking a problem in a different way and I thought that was really interesting. And then I was also excited to hear, you know, what the other judges had to say as well. I think the insights that they provided were super helpful and exciting and insightful for the founders. So it was a great, great pitch competition. I think it was also a very collaborative group and excited to see what happens in the finals next month.


0:25:09 - Dmitri

Cool. I'm glad you were able to see that kind of collaborative spirit. That's the. The swimming with narwhals vibe is a little less. You know. You know sharky, so it was cool to see. And then, and then you know, also with the VCs there, all of you guys had very direct questions and feedback. That was super awesome. Had you heard any of those startups before?


0:25:28 - Aadit

Yeah, a couple like I've talked to Stefan before so I knew about make others I wasn't as familiar with, like you know, luna acoustic. I think that to me was really interesting. You know, with the hardware piece I didn't think about that angle. I've seen other companies that have attacked you know the different pieces that we saw with others that we're doing so, like I've seen companies going after data and ticketing and going after music creation and distribution, but something like that was pretty unique. So you know, you always find I learned something new every day.


0:26:01 - Dmitri

Yeah, that was a. That was a music education hardware piece with a with a tablet to help the tourists, that's right.


Yeah, and they and they emphasized that it looks good too. You could leave it out in your living room and not be embarrassed about your music equipment being everywhere, because it was kind of cool looking, so yeah it's aesthetically pleasing, which I think my wife would be really happy about. All the guitarists, ears perk up. Yeah, Joe, what would have been your favorite things from from music tech topics conference in the past? You've been. You've been to some.


0:26:32 - Joe

Yeah, you know, I think it's really clear. You know, after investing in a music kind of music tech for some years, it's very apparent that the community is really tight and it's small and, and you know, that's a great thing because if you bring the right venue and bring the right people in, that's what really makes a conference right. It's like the panels are nice and the speakers are nice and everything, but it's really about the people connecting and having the chance to have the right kind of conversations. A lot of them happen in the hallways, so I've found that Music Tech Tonics is one of the best places.


The assembly of the right people gives the Tech Tonics conference certainly some unique DNA for the sector. People can get closer and closer together, have very personal conversations and therefore like very productive at the same time, and you hear about all the. When you talk to all the people that are in Music Tech, you just come to appreciate the amount of thinking and the amount of ideas that are generating in people's heads. And I've always just found the conference to be a great place to just kind of sit, digest, share what I know in order to generate more ideas and knowledge in the community, and it's been great just being a part of it, so thanks for having me at conferences like that.


0:28:12 - Dmitri

All right.


You guys have been heroes for us, so thank you both for being activated as well.


This is awesome to hear your feedback too, because we do work hard to try to bring a real diverse role set from music and tech and innovation and investment all together, because I do think something different happens If it's just startups and investors. That's one type of dynamic If it's, you know, there's a lot of music industry converts where it's heavily emphasized on record labels and streaming services, which a lot of the music tech innovators want to meet with them, maybe partner with them, license music or somehow use an API or something like that. But like getting all of the perspectives I think really helps a lot. And you know it's not just the startups that are feeling the support of meeting everybody in the ecosystem, but also, you know, the labels or the managers or the publishers or the agents or the venues also finding about like, where innovation is going. I mean you guys get pitched by startups all the time, but some of these companies you know they don't have a, they don't have a top of funnel innovation mindset. That's coming at them every day.


0:29:14 - Joe

Yeah, dmitri, please for you and everybody around you. You know, please, keep going. It's not often that you come to conferences where it's more about having the relevant people in there, and relevancy is not a function of title, you know. It's not a function of what you do in the music industry, but it's a function of mindset and your penetration of whatever it is you do. So you know, and what I was saying is is like the interactions between me and a product manager versus another investor versus a CEO of a startup they're all different, they're all different conversations, but it's the mixture of these things that make it really special, awesome.


0:29:53 - Dmitri

Thank you for that. That's definitely fuel to keep me going in these last few weeks before the conference.


You guys are making my day on this, but we got to take a quick break. When we come back, I'd like to ask you for some tips for some of the startup founders that are listening. We'll be right back. Hey, in case you missed it in our episode last week or in the music tectonics newsletter, I want to make sure you know. We have announced the five finalists who will pitch in person at the music tectonics conference in October. These are the finalists for music tectonics swimming with narwhals.


Here they are Aux. That's AUX. A generative AI model that takes a text prompt and generates infinite audio samples. Get moments. A platform that lets live event organizers collect and monetize user generated video from concerts, festivals and sports matches. You'll also hear from make spelled MAYK. Voice tech with a focus on fun and easy. New GC song creation tools Off stage. A super fan platform that makes fan data accessible and actionable. And real count, an analytics platform for live music's key performance metric tickets sold. This startup competition final is one of the favorite events at music tectonics every year. Looking forward to having you there and seeing who wins. It's going to be epic. So let's go into some tips here. What tips do you have for first time music innovation startup founders who are just getting started in seeking investment. What prep work do they need to do?


0:31:28 - Aadit

Yeah, this is a great question. I think the answer for this is probably more market dependent and it's probably not something that you want to hear. But some of the key general things that we would advise for founders is really think through your business plan before starting to build, really understand the problem that you're trying to solve and think about what that market size and the market landscape looks like, just to make sure that you're not going after a space that may be already solved or there's already a big player in, but making sure that there's an opportunity for a disruptor like yourself to be involved in taking a place. And then, once you have that plan, I think, really identifying the team to help build that and solve for that. So, under being self aware, knowing your weaknesses and strengths and getting folks that either support that or other folks that may be down the line that you want to hire, having that kind of game plan is really important and critical. And then, when you're trying to seek investment, investors want to know how you're going to use that money, what is the game plan of where the funds are going to be used and how you're going to build, and thinking about that roadmap is going to be very critical.


So the prep work that I advise teams to do is understand your audience. Not each investor is the same, so really understand the nuances for them each one and doing your own homework, understanding what investments have they made, making sure they're the right fit for you. Think about the near term goals as well as the long term goals. So making sure that an investor is going to be the right partner. When someone makes an investment, they're not just making a financial commitment, they're making a bet on you and so they wanted to work with you and really that partnership is very critical. So making sure that's important.


And then I think for us is when we talk to founders, are they open to feedback? When we have a first time call, there's always constructive feedback that we provide talking to them, and then when we have the fall call, we want to see how they take on that feedback. Is that something that they're addressing or thinking about, or is it something that kind of just went under the rug and they're not considering? I think that's important because, at the end of the day, we think of it as a team and, like Joe had said earlier, we're here to help founders and management teams grow and reach their potential. And then, lastly, I think it's just being optimistic and having that winning attitude is always critical. There's always to be ups and downs. It's a roller coaster when you're building a company and starting from the ground. So having being enthusiastic, believing in yourself, having that conviction, is really important, but then, at the same time, also being humble enough to know when to take that feedback to maneuver and change things.


0:34:06 - Joe

Yeah, I'll just add a couple more.


0:34:09 - Dmitri

I was just going to say wow, adi, just dropping some knowledge there. That was like two minutes of masterclass on investment in music tech in general. So I appreciate that, Joe. How about you?


0:34:20 - Joe

I was just going to add in a couple things. I think it's really important when you're talking about starting to seek investment. Most of the time it's because you're an early stage company, you're still trying to vet things out. So your ability to articulate what it is that you're going after fairly quickly I mean this goes kind of for early stage and late stage companies but your ability to communicate and articulate your idea in such a way that somebody you got to be able to think about what your idea is as a function, if it's a product or if it's a company Most investors want to invest in companies, right?


So being able to take your core idea and take it out and help somebody see one or two steps down the road becomes really, really important.


So in order to do that it gets onto some of the things that Adi's talking about the way that you shape yourself, the way that you're self-aware, the way that you take things in ultimately become really key because most of the time you're going to pivot one way or another or you're going to evolve your idea. But if you come up in front of an investor and you're raising dollars, if you can't articulate those things, it becomes really hard to make somebody believe that your idea is the one that stands out, and it's maybe not even your idea, but it's actually you as a person are the one that can carry the idea through. So I think that that's really important In order to do that. Such exploration or such understanding of identity comes out to eventually like what's your real punchline? What are the sound-lights Like? How do you deliver your idea so that somebody says, hey, that's interesting. You must be the really interesting person for me to park my money behind.


0:36:15 - Dmitri

That's a perfect segue into one of the final questions I want to ask you and, by the way, Aadit and Joe are both planning to be at Music Tectonics. They're still fighting over which one of them is going to be the judge at our final competition, sorting out schedules and maybe dueling a little bit for that fun role. But we do have folks who are finalists four or five finalists, I think it's four finalists. How about tips for our finalists at the swimming with Narwhals final competition at the conference in a few weeks?


0:36:50 - Aadit

You've got to need direct ones for them. Yeah, I think, from my last year's experience, the biggest thing is prepare making sure the tech is already ready to go, making sure you're able to deliver your punchline early and allow the judges and the audience to digest it, and giving them the context surrounding what you're building and why you're building and solving for. And then I think another thing is just enjoying the process. You know this is a very collaborative group of individuals that are going to be in the room, so don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself, but really just use it as an opportunity to, you know, build more awareness from your startup and company and get yourself in a better position going forward.


0:37:35 - Dmitri

Awesome, Great, All right, this has been excellent. I feel like there's so much information that was shared here and a lot of fuel to keep me going as well. You've mentioned that what you guys are keeping an eye on for the future are things in Web 3, Creator Economy, Generative AI. Are there any other areas that you know that are on the cutting edge that you guys are keeping an eye on? That we should also be paying attention to.


0:37:59 - Joe

Yeah, I mean, maybe I'll just circle back to what I was saying at the very beginning here. There's a load of areas where we're investing very much in the way, like in the picks and shovels of what makes these things tick, because you have to have that underlying technology in order to make some of these companies and these ideas real. But probably most importantly, you know, just through experience you know we're looking at things where innovations, where we think people are going to be ready to accept and embrace those innovations, you know, in the near future so the near future being, say, inside of seven years or five to ten years or something like that but it has a lot to do with social acceptance. So we're not looking to force technology into people's lives like, hey, vcs, you know, or we invest in certain areas. We want to make this technology happen.


I think it is so important to understand people and what society wants and how they embrace it, and that's from a creation perspective all the way through the consumption perspective, and I think it's changing to be tighter and tighter and tighter, so that these areas are all shades of gray at this point. But it is in those areas that we think that we're going to see technology innovation, and so GenAIM, ai may accelerate or decelerate. You know Metaverse may accelerate or decelerate at different points in time, but if you have the thesis that they're going to be relevant, then you're going to start to look at these and try and get ahead of it. You know VR comes into play, web3 comes into play. You know there's a lot of technologies that bring people together. So you know, when we think about this and try to explain our thesis, we really just do think about it from what's the future of entertainment?


0:39:56 - Dmitri

Awesome. This has been so great. It's so pumped to see you guys in just a few weeks in Santa Monica at the Music Tech Tonics Conference. It's so meaningful to me, to our company and to our community to have you guys engaged and I appreciate it so much. Thanks for joining me on the podcast. Thanks for having us. Thanks for being with us.



Music Tectonics at NAMM 2023

Let us know what you think! Tweet @MusicTectonics, find us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, or connect with podcast host Dmitri Vietze on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

The Music Tectonics podcast goes beneath the surface of the music industry to explore how technology is changing the way business gets done. Weekly episodes include interviews with music tech movers & shakers, deep dives into seismic shifts, and more.

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