A Twist on the Tech-World-Inspired Accelerator Program

Hannah Karp reported in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that, “On a recent morning here, a group of entrepreneurs gathered on black leather couches for a power-point presentation to kick off a 12-week business boot camp for startups. They weren’t launching tech companies, however. They were helping up-and-coming musicians looking to make it big.

“‘I truly believe that there’s an immense amount for you guys to learn from each other,’ said Jake Udell, a 27-year-old whose artist-management firm Th3rdBrain organized the program. Among the goals, he said, is to help the performers craft long-term business plans and ‘not just fool around in a bedroom for five days straight trying to make a record not knowing what to do with it, accidentally leaking it for free online.’

“The San Fernando Valley boot camp was modeled after Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator, the 11-year-old so-called accelerator that has launched companies such as Dropbox and Airbnb.”

The Journal article noted that, “Following Y Combinator’s success, hundreds of accelerators have sprung up world-wide, specializing in industries ranging from biotechnology to logistics. Typically, accelerators are organized by groups that make modest early-stage investments in companies, while advising them and promoting them to investors in exchange for discounted stakes in their business. Th3rdbrain’s application of the model for individual musicians is unique.

“Th3rdbrain—whose management clients include R&B artist Gallant, and Grammy-nominated producer Zhu— selected an assortment of promising new acts for its pilot program and plans to host a ‘demo night’ and release their music through its in-house record label, taking a cut of the earnings, which they declined to specify. Top-tier managers typically take up to a 20% portion of all of an act’s revenue streams.”

Ms. Karp added that, “The tech-world-inspired accelerator program is among the latest efforts by artists and their managers to circumvent the traditional path to stardom controlled the major record labels, which typically take ownership of an act’s music and big stakes in its other revenue streams in exchange for funding and marketing the tunes.”

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