Red Heads to Wallifornia

Red Heads to Wallifornia

19th July 2019

Wallifornia 2019

Next in the summer music tech tour was Red’s first trip to the Wallonia region of Belgium, where Innovation Manager Karim Fanous travelled for the annual Wallifornia Music Tech conference.
Fresh into July and this time solo Red I found myself admiring the St Pancras International roof on the walk to the queue for the Eurostar check-in, while listening to Jade Jackson’s City Lights, the first track on my road playlist. I try and make one for every conference trip.

I was on my way to Liège to catch-up with friends and colleagues at LeanSqaure Ventures at the end of their two-week startup accelerator, which is part of UMG’s global accelerator network, to speak at their conference and investor summit and judge the hackathon and pitch competitions. Again, I was excited to have the opportunity to meet the start-ups taking part, congratulate them on getting into and through the programme and thank them for their innovation. Always with an eye on whether they would be a good fit for incubation as well.

On arrival I went straight to the Hotel de Ville for a reception with the mayor’s office and the founder of the Les Ardentes music festival, CEO of Noshaq, LeanSqaure’s parent company, Gaëtan Servais. A cool setting and a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues.
After an early evening and enjoying a slightly bizarre argument about whether music tech actually exists or not (it does and I proved that the next day!) it was off to bed and making the most of saving an hour with the time difference to recharge.

The next morning, after donning the suntan lotion again, I strolled over to LeanSquare’s HQ for the Hackathon. Personal highlights included Snobbify, which looks at your Spotify playlists and removes all the recent tracks on them, leaving only old stuff there. A cheeky idea which could lead to the discovery of older catalogue on music streaming services, a genuine challenge for the industry, if taken further and flipped a bit.

‘Mood Music’ used TensorFlow’s open source machine learning platform to read emotions from your facial expression and recommend playlists. Winner Kinvis read 25 body tracking points via a Kinect device and translated movements into controller signals that generated sounds using a MOD Device, alongside rendered visuals using the same inputs.

After that I sped over to the conference centre to check out the venue and sit down for a video interview just before my keynote.
I used the conference keynote as an opportunity to present early findings from an intense research project that Red has undertaken, looking at trends across all the startups we’ve seen over the last three years. More on that in a separate post.

The next day our ensemble decamped to Les Ardentes music festival where the investor summit and startup pitches took place. During a four-hour session the 18 sets of founders pitched to a jury of speakers at the conference and summit.

I was pleased and proud to see our alum Vochlea impress the jury with a live demo of its intelligent microphone from founder George Wright.

The winner was LUCiD, whose founders are developing multi-sensory solutions with adaptive music at their core, on point and at the core of industry interest right now. See our Red Talk blog post, here, for more on music and wellness. LUCiD’s first product is a collaboration with furniture company Steelcase to develop a relaxation chair with biosensors that delivers personalised, immersive audio to the person sitting in it, based on their biodata.
It was great to see the startups again operating across a wide breadth of the value chain, from looking for efficiency in rights recording and communication to crowd-sourced imagery for marketing, gig-swapping, one of .music’s first official showings and another inspiring pitch from music collaboration platform Endlesss founder Tim Exile.

Fresh from watching the winner’s announcement I sped back to Liège-Guillemins and then Brussels to grab the Eurostar back after an intense two days. New friends and colleagues made, fresh with the spirit of innovation, we’re looking forward to heading back next year.

Karim said:
“In summary, Wallifornia’s Music Tech summit has come on in leaps and bounds in its second year. We’re looking forward to the conference and summit growing in stature in the coming years alongside LeanSquare’s new innovation hub in Liège”.

Next stop, Sonar...
It doesn’t stop here. Next step on the Red tour sees Dom and Karim head to sunny Barcelona for Sonar +D to mentor startups, attend the conference sessions and hang out with Red alum Broomx. More from us on that soon!

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