The Nashville Entrepreneur Center was packed for the Project Music kickoff event on Wednesday night.
The sheer number of the energized attendees almost made it hard to get to the cans of Jackalope beer and other beverages, mostly because many were eager to speak with the other excited guests at the EC. While familiar faces that were part of the mentoring and investing team of the Project Music’s first cohort were there, plenty of others came to see how they could get involved for this accelerator’s second time around.
Vincent Peppe, an entertainment and IP lawyer with extensive experience in the music industry, was among the attendees who was at the EC to sign up as a mentor for the next cohort of music-tech startups, which is slated to begin in late January 2016. Some were here to support the program in general, like Sarita Stewart, assistant professor of entertainment industry studies at Belmont Univ. Several of Stewart’s students were part of the first Project Music class.
Since launching as the nation’s first music tech accelerator and then proving that concept this year, some competing programs have popped up just in the last few months. But the new partnerships and plans that Heather McBee, leader of Project Music, pointed out for the coming season make it an even more attractive accelerator to apply for than just the year before.
While CMA will continue to serve as the title sponsor of the program, Launch Tennessee and YouTube have signed on as platinum sponsors. McBee stated that YouTube will provide both financial support as well as mentorship and in-town visits that will include leaders from other parts of the Google platforms. The program will also be longer by about 10 days, to 15.5 weeks. The plan is being finalized to have three pitch day stops, in Nashville, New York City, and LA. McBee is also hoping to line up enough investors to provide at least $30,000 in seed funding for each team.
The graduates of Project Music’s first class were also at the kickoff to update the room about where they are now since graduating the program in April. The eight startups have collectively raised $2.2 million, and all seem to be on an upward trajectory. But many, including the team with Dart Music, simply wanted to be there to support the program. “It’s the program that helped us grow to where we are today,” said Dart Music COO Lee Kebler. “We want to be here to support the next group.”
Though the program application for the second season opened just this week, Max Riahi, a new resident to Nashville, said he already began the application process to be part of Project Music with his crowdfunding platform idea for the music industry.
It sounds like Project Music is striking the right chord for both Nashville and innovation in the entire music industry.