Friday, March 8, 2013

Red Bull launches accelerator for music startups

Olivia Solon/Wired.UK

Red Bull is to launch an accelerator for startups -- called Red Bull Amplifier -- that aims to connect digital innovators to the company's audience of music fans.

Red Bull is working with design and innovation consultancy Sidekick Studios on the accelerator programme, which will not involve an exchange of money nor an equity stake -- rather it will give startups access to some of Red Bull's audience (the brand says it has more than 35 million followers across its social channels) as well as to artists and venues.

Amplifier has been launched as an alternative to "classic accelerators" such as YCombinator and Seedcamp. Red Bull says that there are "no limits or expectations on the kind of ideas it is seeking to support" and that the criteria for submissions are simply that the product is innovative and enhances the music experience for fans or artists or both.

"Startups need money, yes but they also need access to users. None of these other accelerators necessarily offer that access. Red Bull can really bring to the table the scale and distribution as well as access to artists," said Asi Sharabi, Sidekick's Strategy Director.

Startups can apply through the Red Bull website. Red Bull is looking for early-stage businesses that have products ready for market. They will be assessed by SoundCloud's Dave Haynes, VentureBeat's Ciara Byrne, Red Bull Music Academy's Davide Bortot, Asi Sharabi and 2011 Mercury nominee Ghostpoet. Successful applicants (there could be a handful of them, depending on the quality) to the accelerator will gain access to Red Bull's global network of Red Bull Studios, the Red Bull Music Academy, the brand's online channels and artists.

Sharabi describes startups as the "Red Bull of business". "It's about high energy, creativity, staying up all night coding. There are commonalities between startup culture and Red Bull culture."

SoundCloud's Dave Haynes said: "Sometimes it's not enough to get a small amount of funding or the accolades that some startup accelerators provide. What counts for early stage music startups is exposure to a critical mass of potential new users."

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