Startup Series 004 : AI Music

Having the most appropriate music for each situation is a very satisfactory experience. When the music matches your activities or the situation you are in, it brings great joy. If you are playing music while you work, good music could help you work efficiently. What if a machine can do that for you? AI Music makes that wish come true!

Speaker Profile


CEO | AI Music
About AI Music
Adaptive music is music that actually changes itself depending on your activity. For example, if you're going for a run, then our music can adapt itself. The faster you run, the faster the music becomes. It may start from hip hop and shift to house music. If you run really fast, you get drum and bass, which has 174 beats per minute. You can also link the energy of the song to your heart rate. Thus, if your heart rates go high, the actual energy of the song and the loudness and the drums go up. We've been really looking at this idea of adaptive music. Fitness is just one application. We also work in gaming, virtual reality, and advertising as well.
How does it work on advertising?
We focus right now on radio adverts. Let’s say you're listening to some music on a streaming service during a BBQ with your friends. Then, an advert comes in. The adverts are really annoying, so you turn it down. You have to wait for the advert to finish and then turn up again. Let's say you're listening to reggae, and it's really nice and chill. In such a situation, when someone's trying to sell your phone, all your friends will ask you to pay for the service.

We can actually do a really clever piece of technology that when the adverts are going to play, we first understand what music you're already listening to. Then, we actually put that type of music underneath the advert.It becomes a musical advert. If you listen to reggae, you'll get a reggae version of the advert. If it is dance music, you actually get an upbeat dance version. It actually seamlessly goes from the music to the advert to the next song again. The data collected from over 100 million times in America, have shown that not only people listen to the music but also the whole adverts more often because they actually like it. They engage with the advert more. If they're actually on their laptops, and there's a button to click to buy a thing, they click that button two and a half times more often. It's a significant increase. It's just because of the difference between what we call a simple phonic advert and one that is musically sympathetic to what you're listening to.
Expansion Plan
We're just under 20 people now. We're still quite a small company based in London. We had an office in Battersea until last year, but everyone started working from home after COVID-19. If we spoke last year, I would have told you, we're going to open up an office in New York because we have a lot of our customers in the US whether they're media agencies or streaming or even some of the bigger labels that have their headquarters there. We were also looking to maybe expand into Asia as well. However, I probably changed my mind. Working remotely for almost a year, I found that people are used to interacting closely with partners across the world. I don't really know if we need to physically expand internationally until we get to another level of the company, such as being on the right time zones to look at customer support or having a base to understand the culture more for localization purposes.
OMAKE : Founder's Story
Founder's Background
I studied till I was 27, and then I started my first company. I never worked for anyone. And so I never understood what it was like for someone to pay me money. I never had the comfort of “Okay, now I can pay my rent.” For me, it wasn't something that was scary to do.
After I sold the first company, I had the option to make some investments, but I really didn't enjoy it. I thought it'd be more fun, but I felt like investing in another company was like letting others go and have all the fun and I'm sitting here at home. I was really interested in starting a company on my own again, so I did. I thought it'd be a lot easier the second time, but it really wasn't. It was a very different industry, and all the team members are new again. But it's been really, really fun. Having people believe in your vision is great. I remember we became part of this incubator scheme in London, that's part of Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles made their big albums and Pink Floyd. We were able to present in front of all these, like music industry executives, whether the technical or producers and engineers, and we were going to do it actually, I think it's in studio two, again, where the Beatles wrote, like one of their albums. This is a very important stage. I remember being backstage, “I'm going to present him. I can't believe it. I just came up with this crazy idea.” 6 months later, we're presenting to the music industry what we think the future of music is, but I felt we were not really qualified to say that in front of all these people. Even though I have been playing the piano since I was 5, I don't get how this industry works. I think some of our naivety helped us push forward.
What are the important skills to have as a founder?
I have a lot of founder friends now in London. I have realised some of them are much less technical. Some of them are more financial. I'm very technical. If I have a challenge to solve, and I want to compete with competition, or differentiate, I tend to do it through technology. Others might do it through business and build a different business model or change the price. I think having your own type of expertise is useful and doesn't have to always be the same. What you do have to have is probably a passion for what you do, because it'd be so tough. If I draw a graph, over the last few years of my confidence in AI music as a company to succeed, it goes up and down again and again. Thus, to have resilience, the ability to see through those difficult days, I think there's a toughness to that. You also need to really believe in your mission and what you're doing is in line with your values; whether that's changing the world, whether that's creating this amazing new product that makes people's lives easier, and all those types of things. I think that what I'm seeing as a common traits across founders.


Writer's Comments

I talk to many startups, but this service was new to me. "Uzai (annoying) Ad" could potentially change to something people listening to with just a bit of tech and creativity.

Interviewer Profile

Natsuko Mitsugi

Pivot Tokyo
Co-founder of Pivot Tokyo, the hub for CxO and startups based in Tokyo, Japan. She is also a co-founder of early childhood education school, GKCors



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