Making Music: Five of Our Favourite Music Tech Companies
Who doesn’t love a good singalong? Today, we’re celebrating some of our favourite music tech companies, and the innovative ways in which they’re shaping the present and future of the music industry for artists and fans.
Hawkr is bringing e-commerce principles to the live music stage by enabling musicians to create and sell merchandise at the touch of a button. Artists can create standard designs as well as gig-specific merchandise on the app, then sell these online to fans.
True devotees are rewarded for attending live gigs by unlocking limited edition merch on the app via geolocation at a time-limited merch stand. Meanwhile, artists can sell main lines all year round at an ever-present merch store.
Partnered with amp maker Marshall, Hawkr was founded by touring artists, managers, festival promoters and fans who wanted to build a better, more efficient and more sustainable way to sell merch, and a more seamless buying experience for fans.
Having been founded in 2021, Hawkr is already gaining recognition, having recently won the marketing, promotion and D2C category at the Music Ally SI:X awards.
“Instagram meets Soundcloud,” Rap Fame has the potential to revolutionise how artists of all genres build and engage with their audiences.
First, the basics. Rap Fame enables artists (for now, rappers; later, who knows?) to record and produce tracks through the app itself.
It also provides a community through which artists and listeners can discover one another. This social component is central to Rap Fame’s offering; through the app, up-and-coming artists can engage directly with widespread audiences, receiving likes and comments on their tracks and responding to their growing fanbase.
Additionally, Rap Fame is geared towards fostering collabs. Through the app, rappers can connect and collaborate with one another. They can also take each other on in rap battles.
“It’s really special to see artists using our technology to make amazing music, all from their phones!” John Lister, Head of Content, told the Oho Group Blog. “We’re all about emerging music at Rap Fame & we work hard to shine a light on amazing talent that isn’t given the chance on conventional platforms, through our contests, profile highlights and yearly awards.”
Rap Fame’s commercial offices are based in the UK and the USA, with development taking place globally by a remote team. The company was initially founded in Minsk, and successfully pitched on Belarus’s equivalent of Dragon’s Den.
One of the most innovative names in audio engineering, ROLI’s flagship product, the Seaboard, is a hi-tech reimagining of the traditional piano keyboard. A pressure-sensitive silicone layer enables players of the Seaboard to create completely polyphonic sounds, bending pitches and creating vibrato intuitively by varying the pressure applied.
As well as the Seaboard, ROLI produces the Lightpad Block, a drumpad which enables artists to create unique beats by blending percussion and melody with the pitch-bending capabilities of ROLI’s touch-sensitive technology, and Lumi Keys, a portable keyboard whose keys illuminate to inspire new melodic and chord progressions when paired with ROLI’s production software (more on that below). Both the Lightpad Block and Lumi keys are modular, and can be combined with each other to create large combined keyboard and drumpad combinations.
Besides these hardware products, ROLI produces software products such as its digital synthesiser, Equator 2; ROLI Studio, an all-in-one production suite, and two more specialised synths, Cypher2 and Strobe2.
We’ve not managed to have a go on a Seaboard yet - if you have, drop a comment on LinkedIn to let us know what it’s like!
Technology is driving the innovation of new musical instruments across the pond, too. Sunhouse, based in Long Island, New York, is a Sensory Percussion pioneer, allowing drummers to control melodies and harmonies, add a piano or orchestra, or combine samples from their favourite song, all on the drum set they already own.
A contactless sensor attaches onto a drum kit, which then converts ten zones of impact on a drum into different sounds electronically. Drummers can choose from hundreds of built-in preset kits, or customise their own using over 35,655 of raw samples included in the Sunhouse library.
See this link for an amazing video of Sunhouse’s technology in action!
Founded in 2019, Volta is still in testing at time of writing, but it has the makings of a revolutionary app in the history of musical performance.
Combining music with VR, Volta enables artists to create mixed-reality, 3D experiences with no prior knowledge of programming or tech. It then enables these performances and experiences to be live-streamed, via sites like YouTube or Twitch.
“What once required a production studio and a big budget is now completely free,” boasts Volta’s site. We’re excited to see the 3D visuals that artists across the world will create with Volta.