Project Music is strategically located in Nashville, Tennessee, a city that has already established its credibility as a music industry hub. After all, it is called Music City. The city has a deep history of innovation around music, having planted the seeds for the music ...
Starting September 1, entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas for the music industry are invited to apply for one of up to eight coveted spots in the Project Music 2016 Accelerator. The partnership of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) and title sponsoring Country Music Association (CMA) is the basis for Project Music, the only music industry-specific business accelerator in the nation. YouTube, leading video sharing and Launch Tennessee, an organization committed to developing high-growth companies, have signed on as Platinum sponsors. YouTube and LaunchTN bring a wealth of technology and startup experience to the table to support the 2016 cohort. Along with solid business training, participants will receive an in-depth commercial examination of artists, songwriters, the publishing process, record labels, and the live music business. Beginning January 31, 2016, Music City USA’s EC will provide business and industry related curriculum, mentorship, critical connections, and capital to propel these select music-driven startups into the marketplace.
Applications will be considered from entrepreneurs at all stages of startup development. Last year’s inaugural class included 20-something Channing Moreland of artist booking platform EVAmore and Marcus Cobb of musician-connecting site Jammber, who has been starting creative businesses for sixteen years. “The business concept doesn’t have to be as fleshed out as you might expect. The idea’s relevance and contribution to innovation in the music industry are more important—as is the EC’s belief in the character and experience of the applicant,” says Program Director Heather McBee. Applicants are encouraged to apply early in order to devote sufficient time to the process. Applicants should be ready to communicate their business concept and how it will generate revenue, describe their target customer and stakeholders, and introduce the background and experience of the company’s leadership team.
Due to the intensity of the program, applicants should consider participation a group project. Two to four members of each business’s leadership team are needed to attend to the quantity and diversity of work required to succeed in the program. Project Music’s selection committee will be looking for team commitment, availability, trainability, and stamina for the information deluge and long days.
Sweet rewards await those who are honored with the chance to work this hard and make it through. Participants receive at least $30,000 in seed money in exchange for 7% equity, guidance from fifty plus high level mentors in the startup, tech, and music industries, media attention, and the opportunity to pitch to investors in Nashville and New York. An additional 3% of equity is earmarked to award to program mentors that support the participating startups. Last year’s inaugural class raised over $2 million in follow-on funding, received 65 media mentions, and added 26 jobs to the economy. Stephen Davis, CEO of Ear IQ lauds the program, “I can honestly say that – due entirely to Project Music - I managed to make more progress and establish more valued contacts in 14 weeks than I had the entire previous year working on my own.” That experience was echoed by his seven peers.
To the delight of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, participants not only progressed their own businesses, but built a real community among themselves where they relied upon and supported each other. Two goals of the accelerator have been to foster the growth and development of startups built on fair compensation of rights holders and content creators and to mirror the best aspects of the Nashville music industry - a healthy, yet competitive environment that fosters camaraderie, idea sharing and mutual support. McBee attributes their 100% graduation rate in year one to this camaraderie. Teams felt so connected to each other and the program that with production support from Project Music member VideoBomb, last year’s participants chipped in time and money to collectively produce a documentary about the Project Music experience.
For those not selected for Project Music, The Nashville Entrepreneur Center has a four month pre-accelerator program to help early stage businesses get off the ground. PreFlight, as it is called, provides entrepreneurial education for those can’t commit full-time to turning their idea into reality with evening classes, drop-in workspace, and unlimited mentoring. Chris McMurtry, CEO of DART Music and member of Project Music’s inaugural class, began his relationship with EC through PreFlight in 2014. “I came into PreFlight with an idea and a dream and left with a viable business plan. There is no way that DART could have gotten off the ground without PreFlight." The combination of PreFlight and Project Music was extremely powerful for DART, allowing them to build the solid foundation and connections that earned the company $1.5 million in funding in 2015.
Anyone interested in Project Music, either as an applicant, investor, mentor, or intern, is invited to join the Nashville Entrepreneur Center for Project Music‘s Year 2 Kick Off Event on Wednesday, September 2 from 5:30 -7:30 CDT at their offices at 41 Peabody Street in Nashville.
For more information on the Kick Off Event or application process, visit www.projectmusic.co/2016accelerator.
About the EC:
The Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) fosters innovation and entrepreneurship by Turning Ideas Into Reality, helping to start businesses and create jobs. The EC connects entrepreneurs with investors, mentors and the critical resources they need to accelerate the launch of startup businesses. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, the Center is funded through sponsorships, partnerships, donations and grants. The EC relies on support from leading corporations, successful entrepreneurs and those who have a vested interest in the EC’s success. For more information, visit ec.co.
Founded in 1958, the Country Music Association was the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music. In 1961, CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame to recognize artists and industry professionals with Country Music’s highest honor. More than 7,400 music industry professionals and companies from around the globe are members of CMA. The organization’s objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the industry and advance the growth of Country Music around the world. This is accomplished through CMA’s core initiatives: the CMA Awards, which annually recognize outstanding achievement in the industry; the CMA Music Festival, which benefits music education and is taped for a three-hour TV special; and “CMA Country Christmas,” featuring Country artists performing original music and Christmas classics. All of CMA’s television properties will air on the ABC Television network through 2021. For more information, visit CMAworld.com.