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Why Is Europe Leading the World In Music Innovation?

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Yesterday, I was on Google+ and I ran across a post from The Independent about how London is the global centre for music tech, which is very interesting because the last I checked the U.S. is still the number one music market in the world.

London has more concerts per year than anywhere in the world,” says Ian Hogarth, who co-founded the company in Shoreditch in 2007. “It’s also a place where there’s a density of people with a passion for technology – so it’s natural and organic that so many music technology companies have been founded in London.”

Europe and the UK especially, seem to have a higher respect and value for music versus us Americans and they seem to respect the art of music innovation more. Most of the entrepreneurs that I have spoken with from the U.S. are music geeks who saw a problem and wanted to create a solution – which is great! I see nothing wrong with that, but I think there needs to more of a balance between music geeks and great developers working in the music tech space in the U.S.

However, the more talented developers are working for Google, Facebook or they have decided to create a start-up that they think will have a greater scale. There are some exceptions like Noise Toys in San Francisco,The Echonest and Khu.sh – but not as many as there should be…

Here is an excert taken from an email I received from The Lefsetz Letter called Economics.

if you went to an Ivy League school, you go into banking.

Or if you went to Stanford, you go into tech.

And the great unwashed masses go into music.

For a minute there, the highly educated went into music too. On the business side. They developed Napster and other platforms that the rights holders decimated to their detriment. Talk about winning the battle but losing the war… But the end result is no one with a brain is going to work in music. Innovation has been squeezed out. It’s all about endless turf wars, trying to protect what you already have.

Europe doesn’t have a shortage of educational institutions like Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, which thoroughly supports music tech start-ups and some even offer incubator programs with free working space. This month Maastricht University in the Netherlands is facilitating a student run music tech conference called the M3 Event which discusses the future of music of tech in Europe. Yes, they take it very serious in Europe…

Thank God for Stanford, Berklee and MIT…

VH1’s Save The Music Foundation is a non-profit initiative that is seeking to restore music education programs in the America public school system which is badly needed!

There are also dozens of music hacks and music tech conferences that are happening all over Europe, with the biggest one being Midem which is known as worldwide ‘Mecca” for music and technology.

Thank God for the SF Music Tech Summit and ReThink Music

Here are a list of a few Music Tech Events in Europe
Music Tech Pitch 4.5
M3 Event

And then there is funding….
Old money VC’s in Silicone Valley don’t really support music start-ups unless they are internet radio services because radio is an old format that VC’s understand. If you get a bunch people listening we can easily shove ads down their throats.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and 500 start-ups are the only ones that I have seen actively and aggressively funding music tech start-ups.

500 Startups

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

This article is a bit of a teaser and I will be interviewing some of the top music tech companies in Europe over the next week to get their opinions. Stay Tuned…