“Project Music” draws companies from allover thanks to “Music City” brand

Project MusicBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

If you ever wondered about the power of the “Music City” brand, you should have been at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) Thursday evening for the launch of the latest cohort in the organization “Project Music” accelerator.

The year-long program, operated by the EC in partnership with the Country Music Association, is designed to accelerate the success of growth-oriented music-minded start-ups. It clearly draws heavily on the “Music City” image.

Thirteen established but early stage companies, only one located in Nashville, are part of the cohort unveiled Thursday evening. The next closest participant came from Atlanta, while another calls Chicago home, but the vast majority came a good distance . . . Austin, Boston, New York City, San Diego, and even Amsterdam. That’s correct . . . The Netherlands.

The geographic diversity was impressive, but so was the variety of ideas they have brought to Nashville where they hope to take advantage of business mentors and connections.

“The entrepreneurs will be here a minimum of four or five times during the next 12 months,” Michael Brody-Waite, the EC’s Chief Executive Officer, told us. Some might come more frequently.

The ideas they outlined in roughly two-minute previews ranged from a fold-up guitar that will fit in a backpack to a do-it-yourself intellectual property management tool, a one-stop shop for ear gear and a fund that invests in musician-owned companies.

Here’s a breakdown on the 13 in alphabetical order.

  • tv from Charleston, SC – It is a virtual meet and greet platform that helps artists create unique fan experiences using interactive video technology. In pitching the idea, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cori Banyon said’s mission is to ensure that “no fan is left behind.” She says a beta version of the app will be available in a month.
  • AudioDrops from New York City – This is a location-based, social media discovery platform that enables anyone to leave music anywhere for others to discover, collect and share. Seth Hillinger is CEO and Chief Technology Officer. The app is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
  • Ciari Guitars from San Diego – CEO Jonathan Springer is a Patent Attorney who designed The Ascender, the only full-size travel guitar with symmetrical folding that also maintains a true 22-fret electric guitar look, feel and play. He says it can fit in a backpack.
  • Cleerkut Royalty Inc. from Washington, DC – CEO Cheryl Potts launched the do-it-yourself global rights platform to address a need she experienced as a Copyright and Royalty Administrator. The software allows independent music creators to perform most or all of their music administration tasks without an outside professional.
  • Fretish from Boston – CEO Sam Tharp already has 500 registered users and 300 instruments on his peer-to-peer music instrument marketplace that is designed to serve those who need a short-term rental. He says that 89 percent of the revenues from the rentals go to the owner of the instrument and three percent to the payment processor. Fretish retains eight percent.
  • Hook(ist) from New York City – Meredith Collins, CEO and Co-Founder, described this start-up as a collaborative songwriting platform and music social network where well-known artists write original songs with their fans, line-by-line. It provides an additional revenue stream for the artists while also enhancing fan loyalty.
  • JamFeed from Austin – CEO Cameron Gibson described it as “one place where fans can go” to get all of the news about their favorite artists. It includes breaking news, new music releases, tour announcements, and festival line-ups. The app is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
  • NFCSound from Amsterdam – CEO Daniel Waiss said it is an ultrasound barcode that can be encoded into a unique audio stream that can be transmitted by any device with a speaker and decoded by most devices with a microphone.
  • OnlyInVR from Austin – CEO Michael Hodson said the start-up has the largest library of 360-degree video that can give fans the “best seat in the house” for a concert, a recording session, or on a tour bus. OnlyInVR has already had 20,000 downloads since its launch last year. There is also a focus on travel.
  • Project Decibel from Chicago – Jenna Paley, the start-up’s CEO, is also a Doctor of Audiology. The company was created to enhance an individual’s audio experience by being a one-stop shop for custom ear gear.
  • RootNote from Nashville – This start-up was founded by two brothers – Jason and Jeremy Burchard – to help build, support and invest in musician-owned companies. Launched in September 2016, RootNote is in the process of making its first three investments while also raising additional capital.
  • Smashmouse from Atlanta – CEO Robb Dillon says the company has developed a universal, hands-free pedal that offers musicians multiple ways to control their devices and software.
  • SoulSence from San Francisco – CEO Naveen Sridhar describes his start-up as a media and social platform that “drives deeper engagement around music by allowing fans to express their feelings.”

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