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Swim with Narwhals at the Music Tectonics Conference’s 2022 Music Tech Startup Pitch Competition

Application Deadline is July 29, 2022

Applications are open for the Music Tectonics conference’s Swimming with Narwhals music tech startup competition. Spotlighting creative startups through a pitch competition is an important part of the conference’s focus on music innovation wherever it’s shaking up the industry.

The competition culminates in a final pitch session at Music Tectonics’ in-person conference October 25-27, 2022, in Santa Monica, CA. Now in its fourth year, the conference aims to unite innovators in music and tech to share ideas and get business done across industry boundaries.

“Making space for startups to shine has been essential to my vision for the Music Tectonics Conference from the get-go,” explains MT Conference director Dmitri Vietze. “When I founded my own startup, attending conferences was the single most important thing for my business. Besides, startups bring creative energy and future-thinking that everyone in the industry needs to tune into. It’s a win-win for everyone, not just the competition winners.”

Why Narwhals? Sometimes called the “unicorn whale,” the mascot represents the spirit and goals of the competition. Invoking the real one-horned animal gently pokes fun at the cultural obsession with billion-dollar unicorn startups, keeping the focus on real-world innovators who are poised to make waves in the music industry. And while shark tanks pit founders against each other and antagonistic judges, the Music Tectonics competition is designed to be welcoming and mutually supportive.

Applications are open at Music Tectonics’ website until July 29, 2022. An expert panel will select ten semi-finalists to pitch for a jury (including Meng Ru Kuok, BandLab Technologies CEO and investor) at an online event September 7, 2022. More than just a pitch session, this event is the first opportunity for all conference badgeholders to meet and mingle. “This event will be worth attending for all applicants, thanks to a Q & A session with the semi-final jury and chances to build their network,” explains Music Tectonics marketing director Eleanor Rust.

Four finalists will go on to demo their products at a “Startup Carousel” and present final pitches in person at the conference on October 25-27 in Santa Monica, CA. The final jury includes Joe Tou, MD of Sony Innovation Fund. Winners selected by jury choice and audience choice will be announced on the last day of the conference.

Winners of the Swimming with Narwhals competition will be interviewed on the Music Tectonics Podcast, featured in a press release about the competition, and receive a free badge for the 2023 conference. In addition, the recognition and warm embrace of the Music Tectonics community can be a powerful asset in itself.

The winner of the first “Swimming with Narwhals” competition, Jacquelle Amankonah Horton, sees the experience as a springboard for her startup, now called Fave, a platform for fans to unite and support their favorite artists with passion and creativity. “Winning the Music Tectonics startup competition completely catapulted my company,” Horton recalls. “It was the first time I spoke publicly about my vision outside of moonlighting on the project, and the direct support I received from the judges, industry leads who saw or heard of me from this stage, and the amazing fellow attendee community is what led to me closing a $2.2M seed round from top industry companies just a few months later. So grateful and feel indebted to the MT family for this kickoff.”

To open up the opportunity to join the family, Music Tectonics is offering three badge scholarships to startups for whom the cost of a conference badge is a barrier to participation. Preference for badge scholarships will be given to founders who are from groups that are underrepresented in tech and music industry leadership.

Applicant companies must

* be less than 5 years old
have a working demo of a product/service/platform or a finished product.
* ​work in any part of the music innovation ecosystem: creating, distributing, listening, or monetizing music; managing rights or data, engaging fans, running live music events, and more.
* purchase at least one conference badge to be eligible for the startup competition. Early Bird rate badges are available through August 11 at

Competition Timeline:
July 11, 2022    Applications open
July 29              Applications close
September 7    Semi-finalists pitch at online Swimming with Narwhals event;

ALL APPLICANTS and conference badgeholders are invited to join the event for networking and a panel discussion with the jury.
October 25      Startup Carousel demos at the Music Tectonics Conference in Santa Monica, CA.
October 26      Finalists pitch in-person at the Music Tectonics Conference in Santa Monica,  CA.

GGM Staff


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