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Jukedeck

Jukedeck is a London based startup that lets video creators make unique, royalty-free music, powered by AI.

Visiting his girlfriend at Harvard University in 2010, Ed Rex attended a Computer Science lecture for the first time, and decided to try to teach a computer how to write music. He raised initial funding from Cambridge University in 2012, taught himself how to code, and built a prototype - a piece of software that could write and perform music all on its own.

Was this purely an exercise in combining his 2 interests or the germ of Jukedeck?

Jukedeck began as a project of artistic interest - was this possible . However, it swiftly became apparent that this technology solves a bunch of problems for people who need music for their videos, games and a variety of other applications.

How do (you think) musicians / composers feel about the website?

The reaction has been really positive. People seem excited about the potential for a musical tool that gives producers music to work into their own songs, and that allows those who haven’t had the privilege of a musical education the ability to make music

How does the music that jukedeck creates differ from music that a human might make, and do those differences matter?

That's a very good question! We're a team of musicians - including published composers, professional producers, and advanced instrumentalists. Jukedeck is therefore based on our (very human) understanding of the composition and production process. Each day we impart more of our understanding of these areas, so that Jukedeck can write and produce music note-by-note, as a human would.

To that, the creative input of the user is added and is key (users make choices as to genre, mood, tempo and duration). So human creativity lies at the heart of each Jukedeck track.

With that knowledge, our system makes numerous decisions autonomously. And there are strong arguments to suggest that there's no reason why those decisions aren't as creative as decisions made in the traditional compositional process (Ed has written a  detailed post on this, that I think you'd find interesting).

Whether a Jukedeck track differs to the ear from tracks created in more traditional ways is, of course, very subjective. I'd urge you try a musical 'Turing test' on your friends to find out for yourself! Whether all of this matters probably depends on what an individual seeks to get out of music. If you're a video creator, you're probably looking for the simplest way to source an appropriate soundtrack for your video - and, as we've overwhelmingly seen, they tend to be far more interested in the benefits that Jukedeck affords them (in terms of control over the music, the uniqueness of it and the licensing ease) than the provenance.

Similarly, if you're someone who has never had the good fortune to receive a musical education, or had the time to teach yourself, the benefits that technology such as Jukedeck provide (allowing non-musicians to create music very easily) tend to outweigh the provenance - something that our users constantly impress upon us ("finally I can create my own music!"). In fact, we've also had numerous musicians get in touch and ask if they can use the melodies they create using Jukedeck as part of their own, larger, work. For these groups, Jukedeck is a creative tool, that allows them to be more creative, which really excites us. We reckon a world in which more people can be creative can only be a good thing.

On the other hand, if you're a Justin Bieber fan, you're probably more interested in who produced the music - the story, the person and the image. As a massive music fan I love that, and can't see that changing.

Here are 3 examples of music created with/by Jukedeck that Patrick likes

Who has used the site so far?

We’ve been in private beta until now, but already our music has been used in videos by Google, The Natural History Museum and in YouTube videos that have generated over 20M views. It’s worth pointing out that Jukedeck is not just for video, and we seen games developers and podcasters create music and incorporate it into their work.

What had Patrick been doing at Google? Why did he join? What experience / skills did he bring from Google?

Ed had met Patrick at the age of 8, when they had sung together in the Choir of King’s College Cambridge as choristers - and were later undergraduates together at Cambridge University . After that, Ed went off to be a musician (and stumbled upon Computer Science) and Patrick headed to Google where he spent 3 years striking video and games partnerships (and got to know YouTube and the world of online content).

Did you approach your pitches from a video angle or as a music product?

Whilst music is at Jukedeck’s core, as a startup it’s important to clearly articulate what problems your technology solves. For us, the problem video creators have adding soundtracks to their content is the first problem we’re focusing on, and hopefully that comes across in our pitches!

July 2014
Seed round of £500k from Cambridge Uni & Cambridge Innovation Capital
.

Dec 2014
Won the LeWeb Startup Competition

April 2015
W
on Pitch@Palace - organised & hosted by HRH The Duke of York

Aug 2015
Named as one of WIRED’s 100 Hottest European Startups.

Jan 2016 @ CES
Launch Jukedeck MAKE @ TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield Competition.

Did you approach your pitches from a video angle or as a music product?

Whilst music is at Jukedeck’s core, as a startup it’s important to clearly articulate what problems your technology solves. For us, the problem video creators have adding soundtracks to their content is the first problem we’re focusing on, and hopefully that comes across in our pitches!

What was the prize for TechCrunch Disrupt?

The main prize from our point of view was being able to launch our product in front of over a thousand influential people (journalists, potential partners and investors), and many more online. The exposure that gave us was phenomenal. But the stupendously large trophy and £30,000 cheque was also nice.

How did taking part in / winning help?

Traffic to our site exploded, and over 100K tracks were created on our site in just 5 days. We also had a bunch of potential partners get in touch, which was useful.


How did you chose which VCs to approach; or did they contact you?

Our first investor was Cambridge Enterprise - the investment arm of Cambridge University (where we both studied). They introduced us to our second investor - Cambridge Innovation Capital -, and we were fortunate enough to get to know our other investors through.

Did you focus on people with an interest on music / video or (just) tech?

At the start, the most important thing for us was that an investor understood that this was hard problem to solve, rather than an app that could be thrown together in a few weeks. So, in that regard, Cambridge Enterprise and Cambridge Innovation Capital were the perfect first partners, as they allowed us to focus on building the technology rather than making sales on day one. More recently, it’s been great to bring on board investors and advisers who have experience in the commercial media world, as we look to grow our user base.

What did they want to see before they said 'yes'?

Most investors are pretty comprehensive in their questioning, so it’s tempting to say ‘everything’. But most focused on our domain expertise - i.e. our knowledge of music composition and production - and our understanding of the problems we’re solving.

When / from whom did you raise £2M in venture-capital funding?

We raised at the end of Oct '15, from Cambridge Innovation Capital, Backed VC, Playfair Capital and other investors.

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How long did it take to get from 2 to 13?

We were 2 in October 2014, and were 13 by November 2015 - so roughly 11 months.

How did you choose who to hire?

We only hire people who really excite us. I think that, before you reach 50 or so people, you shouldn’t settle for any less.

Did you rely on people with an interest on music or (just) tech?

Both. We think it’s really important to have an understanding of both music creation (composition or production) and software development - that’s when things get really exciting.

Which roles did you recruit for in which order?

Given Ed’s expertise in composition, bringing on board knowledge of music production was our first priority. And lluckily we found Rob Reng and Jonny Cooper who made an immediate impact.

Where did / do you work ~ do you have your own office(s)?

We’re based at TechHub right by Moorgate tube - surrounded by around 50 other startups all set on bringing innovation to the world.

What have you got planned for 2016?

We can’t go into too much detail, but suffice to say you’ll see a bunch of new styles and features on jukedeck.com, all geared towards allowing you to create the music you want.

What is your vision for the future of Jukedeck?

We want to make music more personal - if we can allow people to create and experience music that is more personalised to them, then we’ll be pretty happy.

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