Music 4.5 The Value of Music – evaluate, leverage, and invest in music as an asset

“Value is the price someone is prepared to pay,” quoted Alan Wallis, up until last week the Head of Valuation, Media and Entertainment at EY and now setting up a new business, as he opened yesterday’s seminar Music 4.5 The Value of Music. “The more time I spend looking at music assets the more that phrase chimes. Price is different from value.”

Conceived, organised, and executed by 2Pears – the team creating opportunities and events to inform, educate and connect entrepreneurs, startups and investors in music, media and technology – and held at event partner Lewis Silkin’s London office, Music 4.5 The Value of Music explored the evolving market-place for investing in music as an asset. The half-day seminar analysed the entire ecosystem, from catalogue evaluation to routes to investment, as well as opportunities for artists to leverage their own work via specialty investment firms and synch opportunities.

Evaluating a catalogue

Evaluating a catalogue is more science than art. “You want to look for a diversified catalogue of genres, periods, and writers,” said Wallis. “It should have a reasonable number of titles and have a regular contribution from synch.”

Jeff Stubberfield, Director of Media Banking at Coutts agreed, adding that “diversification in genre, established and demonstrable long-term cash flows, and a solid management record and board” were essential in building a good lending proposition.

There are, of course, other factors at play. Geoff Luck, academic researcher and founder of Hyperlive, has developed an algorithm that will evaluate a song’s longevity based on computational analysis.  “We can look directly at a track or collection of tracks and predict to some extent how many plays it may receive over time, before it’s even released,” he explained.

Perhaps counter intuitively, it’s not current pop hits that are the best investment, as initial hype will die down and dilute a track’s value. When it comes to synch, elusive tracks often have the greatest impact. “Our catalogue is pretty much unknown,” said Chris Lines, Sync, Digital & Licensing Manager for Ace Records.  “We have plenty of synch opps for plenty of obscure music.”

Taking the long view

While music has intrinsic value to the human race with most people having an emotional, physiological and neurological reaction to certain tracks, the business of investing in music is very much that – a business.

“With a few exceptions, the motive of those investing in music catalogues is not a passion for music – it’s making money,” said Steve Lewis, one of the first four employees at Virgin Records, now running his own consulting firm Steve Lewis Services. “Music catalogues are viewed as bonds and real estate.”

But unlike other investments, music catalogue investment is a marathon, not a sprint. “Those that invest in music tend to be private equity, hedge funds, pensions, and families,” he said. “The return can be between 6-8% over five to 10 years.”

An emerging investment ecosystem

It has been difficult historically for private investors to get access to music as an asset, but new companies are emerging to answer this need. “Music is the largest asset in the world without an organised buying and trading infrastructure, and that’s what we’re trying to address,” said Antony Bruno, Director of Communications at Royalty Exchange.

While music copyrights and publishing do not line up with what private equity firms traditionally look for, this has also been the emergence longer term investors, alternative funds, endowments, families, and institutional investors with a seven year or longer investment horizon. “We’ve witnessed a material evolution with the profile of equity investors within music assets over the last 15 years,” said Charles Johnson, MD for Investment Banking, Sports & Entertainment Group at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

“Artists are at the top of the chain”

But what about the artist? The songwriter? The performer? Is this ecosystem closed to them, or is there a way for them to exert control over who invests in their music? Or routes to finance to enable artists to invest in themselves?

Liz Zavoyskiy works in Business Development for LIVAMP, which provides financing solutions to help new artists and rights holders expand budgets and scale. “We’ve built a framework to bridge the gap between artists and investors and have partnered with large private equity firm to bring $100m investment in the music industry,” explained Zavoyskiy. “Artists can access capital, and investors benefit from a diversified revenue stream.”

Simon Lait of SoundHouse argued passionately for artists to realise that deal in a valued and tradable currency. “New funding sources are commercial partners for artists who wish to take back control of the monetisation of their assets,” he said. “To those of you who remain wedded to the view that retaining rights is sacrosanct, release yourself from this protective dogma – artists are at the top of the chain and should be empowered.”

The next Music 4.5 will take place on 28 September 2017 in London. 


Online recruitment platform Job Squad wins TechPitch 4.5

TechPitch 4.5 last night crowned Job Squad – an online platform helping hospitality venues to access temporary staff on-demand from any agency in the UK – as its pitching competition winner.

“We are the Rightmove of temporary staffing,” said Job Squad CEO and founder Laura Baines. “Wembley, for example, recruits 2500 temporary staff from 33 different agencies for one event. With Job Squad, they would get everything they need from one platform.”

The judges voted Tweepforce – a platform that enables businesses to sell products and services inside Twitter Direct Messages and Facebook Messenger – in second place.

“12 billion people are active on Facebook Messenger,” said Tweepforce CEO and founder Shashank Garg. “We enable businesses to leverage that market by providing the ability to have a shop within that application.”

Swytch Mobile – a platform that provides multiple mobile numbers that can be used on one mobile phone – came in third.

“We eliminate the need to buy and manage dedicated mobile phones for employees,” explained Swytch Mobile founder and CEO Chris Michael. “Companies can keep  an employee’s contacts after that employee leaves the company.”

ERNEST – a personal banker powered by artificial intelligence and a chatbot that answers questions, gives insights and forecasts issues – came in first in the audience vote.

“Most of us mismanage our finances,” said founder and CEO Niall Bellabarba. “ERNEST is proactive about helping you make your payments and manage your spending, while our conversational interface responds to your specific financial needs, whether that’s saving for a holiday and wanting to know how much you spent on food last year.”

Conceived, organised and executed by 2Pears – the team that creates opportunities and events to inform, educate and connect entrepreneurs, start-ups and investors in technology – the TechPitch 4.5 series of events selects eight tech start-ups to present their business plan in three minutes to an expert judging panel and an audience of investors, potential partners, and entrepreneurs.

Held at the offices of Pinsent Masons and chaired by Danvers Baillieu, COO, Cognitive Logic, the TechPitch 4.5 panel of judges encompassed a broad range of skills and expertise across technology, journalism, investment, digital delivery, research and academia. They were:

Charles Arthur, technology writer, ex-technology editor The Guardian
Daniel Godfrey, Founder, The People’s Trust
Thilo Schneider, Legal Director, Pinsent Masons
Dr Ida Telalbasic, Service Design & Research, Institute for Design Innovation, Loughborough University London
Miro Walker, CEO and co-founder Cognifide

The other start-ups who pitched were:

3Dealise – a 3D printing service focusing on low-volume, complex, and relatively large industrial parts;
Emsol – a platform providing emissions management as a service, enabling interventions to reduce road transport pollution;
OneVisage – a digital identity platform provider that helps financial services and identity management providers to reduce identity theft and improve digital user experience.

Prior to the pitching by the startups, TechPitch 4.5 judge Daniel Godfrey presented The People’s Trust. A new funding initiative with a social agenda for start-ups and growth companies, The People’s Trust aims to support businesses that create and nurture sustainable wealth while preserving and protecting the environment.

“We are an investment fund with a number of differences,” he said. “We want to make a better impact on society and a better return on investment, which means looking at long-term growth and sustainable business practices.”

Now in its sixth year, the TechPitch 4.5 series of pitching competitions will continue throughout autumn and into the winter of 2017, encompassing all facets of technology, with additional specialisms in Music, Media & Entertainment, Fashion, Luxe & Retail, Sport, Health & Fitness, and PLAY.

Our series of pitching events will continue after the summer and will include TechPitch 4.5 Music, Media & Entertainment on 19 September, TechPitch 4.5 for general tech on 3 October, TechPitch 4.5 Sports, Health & Fitness on 31 October, and TechPitch 4.5 Fashion, Luxe & Retail to be scheduled for winter 2018. We are accepting start-up applications to pitch for all of these events – please visit for more details.

TechPitch 4.5’s supporting partners and sponsors were Invesdor, NetLeadz, MediaTainment Finance, Bootlaw, TechMutiny, Interchange, and The Swiss Embassy.

Steve Lewis: “Without songs there would be no music business”

Steve Lewis is a music industry stalwart with over forty years in the business. We caught up with him ahead of Music 4.5 The Value of Music to hear about his amazing career, his tried-and-tested process for building a music catalogue, and his devotion to songwriters.


-Steve, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. You’ve had such an amazing career in the music industry that I can imagine it’s quite hard to sum up! But for our readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a bit about your professional story, especially as it pertains to our focus at Music 4.5 What Is The Value Of Music?

I met Richard Branson in 1969 when I was 16 and he was 19, a huge age difference at that stage in one’s life. I was still a schoolboy and wanted to earn some money during the summer holidays. I lived at home and spent all my money on albums and concerts. Richard lived on houseboat in Little Venice and was already a man of the world. Richard, his partners Nik Powell and Simon Draper – all guys with enormous ability and drive – became my mentors, which was a piece of incredible good luck for me.

Virgin then was a tight knit group of about a dozen people running Richard’s magazine called “Student” and a mail order retail record business. I worked for Virgin throughout school and university. By 1974 Virgin had established a label, a publishing company, the Manor recording studio, and a chain of retail stores. I became Managing Director of Virgin Management, Richard’s artist management company. I later became Deputy MD of Virgin Records (the label) and MD of Virgin Music (Publishers) Ltd.

Virgin was acquired by EMI in 1992, my first experience of acquisitions. I was deeply involved in the due diligence process and stayed on long enough to have some influence over the decisions EMI made about the future of my staff in a couple of dozen countries around the world.

I was never a part of EMI’s long term plan, nor did I want to be. I joined the main Board of Chrysalis Group Plc in 1993 as CEO of its Music Division with responsibility for the Group’s labels, publishing companies, and recording studios. I secured investment of $20m from the Japanese media group Fujisankei for a new joint venture – the Echo Label – which I co-owned with Chrysalis Group and Fujisankei.  As a main board member of Chrysalis, I was involved in overlooking the newly established Film and TV Division (Midsommer Murders, etc) and the establishment of the Heart and Galaxy radio stations and brands.

I left Chrysalis in 2001 after nine very enjoyable and successful years to look for new challenges and with the idea of writing a book (yet to be completed!)


-Part of your wide-spanning career has been building and leveraging music catalogues for investment. Can you tell us a bit about how this area became your focus and where you started?

After leaving Chrysalis I looked for opportunities and new challenges. The music industry was being transformed by technology, particularly file sharing, which had decimated mechanical royalties. I’d been a publisher for more than 30 years and had always felt many catalogues were under exploited. Sometimes this was because they were administered by publishers who represented many other copyrights, causing them to be neglected. In other cases, the independent owners were content to receive regular cheques from performing rights and mechanical collection societies, neither of which require any more effort than simply registering with them the copyrights.

I decided to raise a fund to buy under exploited catalogues and secured an initial investment of £5m from Ingenious Ventures. This enabled me to establish Stage Three Music in 2003, rent an office, recruit a full team, make an acquisition, and sign some writers. When we had proof of concept Ingenious helped me raise a further, far more substantial, investment from Apax Partners, one of the largest private equity funds in the world. We also arranged a debt facility with HSBC Private Bank’s Media department (we later moved to Bank of Ireland), which allowed us to more or less double the size of our acquisition fund.


-What is your process for seeking out a catalogue and judging its value?

It all starts with the music and is a combination of subjective judgment, experience, informed guesswork, and mathematics. I have to feel the songs are of lasting quality and are underexploited. I also look at the music industry and the wider economic factors, such as inflation and interest rates.  A catalogue might contain great copyrights, which – if they were more actively promoted to artists and A&R managers – would be recorded or sampled more often. The proportion of revenue from synchronisation might be very low. It could be that the songs haven’t been adequately worked or they might simply not be good enough or suitable. Both decisions are judgment calls.

If I feel a catalogue contains evergreens, it is reasonable to assume growth will result from the songs being exploited by a more competent, proactive team than I’m buying from. Growth forecasts will be informed by the type of exploitation thought possible. If the realistic catalogue growth forecasts meet the returns hurdle set by investors – i.e. it contributes to overhead, recovers the investment and provides the level of capital return required by the investors – I would know from mathematical modelling what I could afford to pay to acquire that catalogue.


-You have clearly mastered the art of bringing in investors to this process. How crucial are they, and what would someone need to go it alone? Is it possible for an individual to buy a few songs and expect a return?

It is not possible to build a large publishing catalogue quickly without investors (who would probably include the founder).  One can’t expect investors to take a loss if you have nothing to lose. They call it “hurt money”. If they get hurt, so do you.

An individual buying a few songs can only expect to make a significant return if they are a gambler or have supreme arrogance. A gambler might believe the long odds on windfall income are worth taking. He would bet that a user, on an unsolicited basis, would re-record a song or request a licence for a big budget Hollywood movie or for a commercial. He’d probably have more chance of winning the lottery than generating a significant return on investment.

A buyer who thought he could make a significant return as an individual and is arrogant enough to believe he can, alone, fulfill all the functions of a music publisher will be unlikely to generate meaningful profit. It requires a well resourced team of talented individuals working hard and imaginatively in a highly competitive environment to succeed in today’s streamlined music industry.

-I know so many independent artists who would love to have their work taken on by a publisher or have sync rights sold. What advice would you give to them on how to crack these areas?

Write and record great music. Distribute it as widely as possible on social media and in any other way in which it will reach potential fans. If the writer also performs, play live. It’s much more difficult for an unproven writer who is not also an artist to be signed to a publisher or to find a manager. Almost all publishers have an A&R department. Use all your connections to get your songs to them. Don’t inundate A&R people with too many songs. Send only the three demos of which you are most proud. If they listen to them (and many will not) and like them they will ask to hear more. If you have mates in a band try to get into their writing sessions. If you play an instrument well, try to get booked for recording sessions. You may have a chance to offer a suggestion for say, a keyboard part, which may lead to invitation to co-write.  Spend time fasting and avoiding debt collectors. This may well be your life for a considerable time unless you have a day job too.


-You’ve gone from Virgin to Chrysalis to founding your own publishing company, Stage Three. You now run Steve Lewis Services, which brings together all the expertise you’ve amassed over the years. What’s next for you? Are you seeking more catalogues, looking for more artists to publish, or something else? Is there something you’ve not yet done that is on your music industry bucket list?

I take each day as it comes. I currently advise two tech companies that make software for the music industry and I have an interest in the publishing of a few songwriters who are friends. One of these is Chris Difford of Squeeze, whose forthcoming solo album I executive produced.

I am often approached by startups and if I like the people and think the core business is sound and scalable I may become involved. I have an informal relationship with an investment fund from which I take business plans I think are viable. If they invest, I will become a non-exec director and oversee the investment for the fund.

I advise the Board of the Buddy Holly Educational Fund, a charity that, amongst other things, sponsors Chris Difford’s Songwriting Retreats.

I spend a great deal of time connecting individuals, companies and investors who I think might benefit from working together. Sometimes I even benefit myself!

As for a bucket list, I’ve never run a major. Although I’ve been asked to, it was never at the right time. I’d be interested to see if I could do it differently and more creatively, but frankly, it’s unlikely to happen. I think tech is more central to the lives of music fans than music itself in many cases and I’m always interested in hearing about opportunities in the tech world where I can put my experience to good use.

Without songs there would be no music business. I’ve always tried to represent songwriters’ interests to the best of my ability whether directly, by exploiting their songs successfully, or through industry organisations such as PRS where I have served as a publisher director. There is no end to my desire to continue working in the interest of songwriters. They have allowed me to have a more rewarding and fulfilling career than I imagined possible as a kid of 16 applying for my first job, and provided the soundtrack to my life and the prism through which I view it.


-We’re very much looking forward to hearing you speak at Music 4.5 What Is The Value Of Music? What can we expect from your talk?

I will try to describe the various paths taken from the creation of a song to the receipt of royalties by the songwriter and other parties who may participate in that income.  Along the way, hopefully the audience will have some myths dispelled and pick up some new knowledge.


Steve Lewis is, among many other things, the founder of Steve Lewis Services. Book your tickets now to hear him – and many other music industry experts – speak at Music 4.5 The Value of Music.

Geoff Luck: “We value music because of its emotional impact”

Geoff Luck is Associate Professor at The Finnish Centre for Interdisciplinary Music Research, and founder of HyperliveHe will be sharing insights on scientific approaches to determining a song’s long-term value at Music 4.5 The Value of Music on 6 July 2017. We caught up with him ahead of the seminar to talk about the science behind the emotional impact of music, the power of lyrics, and consumers’ psychological draw to streaming. 


-Geoff, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Can you please tell us a bit about you and your professional story?

Music has always played a big role in my life. I come from a musical family (my parents met while playing in an orchestra, and their parents were musicians before them) and I’ve played, written or recorded music for most of my life. At university, however, I opted for something a little different. I was interested in the human mind, and how we perceive and understand the world around us, so I read psychology. For the last 20 years, I’ve combined these two interests by studying music from a scientific perspective, first as a graduate student, then, since 2004, at what is now the Finnish Centre for Interdisciplinary Music Research in Jyväskylä, Finland. What really interests me is how we experience music on a neurobiological, psychological and behavioural level. In other words, I see music as a multi-sensory experience, not just an auditory one. I’ve published dozens of research papers on a range of interrelated topics connected with music perception, cognition and consumption, including music-driven aspects of emotion, wellbeing, behaviour and personality. I’ve also applied this knowledge to develop engagement-enhancing mobile applications and technology for the entertainment industry. I’m currently focused on identifying the characteristics that elevate great – and successful – music above the rest.


-You’ll be speaking at Music 4.5 What Is The Value Of Music, where we’ll be focusing on music as an asset in which to invest. What can you tell us about how this facet of the industry evolved? David Bowie and Paul McCarthy have of course made headlines by leveraging their own music as assets, but what can you tell us about this practice amongst individuals and organisations?

David Bowie and Paul McCartney are both interesting cases in that they were arguably at the forefront of the current move toward treating music copyrights as assets to be bought and sold (the latter spurred on by Michael Jackson’s previous acquisition of the Beatles’ catalogue). As portfolios become increasingly diverse to counter volatility in the global socioeconomic climate, investors are becoming more and more interested in long-term investments that generate a dependable return year after year. This makes music copyrights the ideal investment. By owning a copyright to a work, one can collect royalties on that work for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. And although the value tends to taper off over the years, it can also grow, making it a remarkably long-tailed and stable investment. The challenge, then, is to identify the (combinations of) tracks that will yield the biggest return on investment.

The idea of investing in intellectual property in general is nothing new, but at least in terms of music it has been somewhat shrouded in mystery in the past. Like many aspects of the entertainment industry, the marketplace was closed to outsiders. With the advent of companies like Royalty Exchange and so on, however, the process has become more transparent, more open, and available to any individual or organisation looking to diversify their portfolio. It’s still a nascent industry, especially at the individual level, but it seems likely that copyright trading – especially as a digital service – will see healthy growth driven by similar transition of the music industry to a digital service. Perhaps this more tangible ownership aspect will even serve to replace a certain aspect of the physical aspect diminished by the digitisation of music distribution.


-For individuals and organisations looking to invest in music, how can data be exploited and leveraged to determine a track’s long-term appeal?

The development of access-based streaming has had a profound effect on the potential of data in general, but especially on how we might determine a track’s long-term value. The recorded music industry has historically focused on ownership as the dominant consumption mode. A record (or other physical media) was released, and we bought a copy if we wished to listen to it. We might listen to that record once, we might listen a thousand times. But no one would ever know, so it was hard to estimate its long-term value to us. The arrival in 2004 of Pandora, followed in 2008 by Spotify, changed everything. The mechanics of streaming platforms mean they generate income to rights-holders relative to the number of times a track is played. Thus, tracks that create a compelling experience we want to consume over and over again will be likely to perform better– and thus retain, or even increase in value – over the long run compared to those that do not.

Today’s streaming platforms and associated services provide a range of data points that might be leveraged to estimate the value of a given (library of) track(s), and I’m personally working on this to quantify the value of music, both from the individual’s perspective, but also, importantly, from a financial standpoint. And I do believe it’s possible to predict the future value of music to some extent. What’s more, I see a great future in treating music copyrights as a commodity to be bought and sold. I mean, why not? To be sure, elevating music above other everyday activities and objects, treating it as an art form is absolutely fine, I have no issue with that. But it can also be so much more. So why not leverage additional aspects if it’s possible to do so?


-In your work, music – and what draws people to it – is a science. As a music lover, I know that music can lift or darken my mood, take me back to a time I’d forgotten, or peak my interest in ways that few other things can. What is the science behind our emotional responses to music?

That’s a great question! Much of the emotional impact of music stems from the way it plays with our expectations about how it will unfold. We’re able to predict many aspects of our environment at just a few months of age, long before we can walk, talk or feed ourselves. And this natural ability carries over to music. Some of our emotional responses to music are due to quick, innate mechanisms that have evolved to alert us to changes in the environment – danger and such like. Other responses are learnt through familiarity with a particular genre or style of music, such as the way an EDM fan might anticipate an impending drop, or a jazz aficionado might expect, say, a saxophone solo following exposition of the main theme. However, we’re not perfect anticipation machines. Sometimes we make mistakes. And this combination of having our expectations confirmed and violated lies at the heart of many of our more tangible emotional responses to music.

In addition to these basic responses, there exists a whole host of what we might call higher-order emotional responses to music. As you mentioned, music can change our mood, transport us back to a specific place or moment in time, and is effective in capturing or diverting our attention (often away from other less interesting or positive activities). Indeed, there’s a growing body of evidence that we tend to use music rather systematically to regulate our moods, using a range of strategies to do so. Music is also a great time-travel medium, allowing us to instantly transport ourselves back in time to significant moments in our lives. In a similar way, music can evoke a strong sense of nostalgia, which from a psychological perspective is actually rather healthy. This is because feeling nostalgic makes us think more positive thoughts, improves our self-esteem, makes life feel more meaningful, and promotes feelings of connection with others.

We also tend to feel the emotion expressed in the music via what’s called emotional contagion. For example, music that sounds happy is, due to acoustic similarities between expression of emotion in music and the patterns of stress and intonation in language, likely to make us smile by triggering zygomatic muscle activity and increasing our breathing rate. Sad-sounding music on the other hand tends to activate the corrugator muscle, causing us to turn down the corners of our mouth, inducing a sadder facial expression. Physiological feedback from these muscular and autonomic responses is thought to evoke the corresponding emotional feeling in us. Thus, happy– or sad– sounding music will likely actually make us feel happy or sad!


-And what role do lyrics play in a song’s appeal? Is the appeal of music versus lyrics mutually exclusive? Can you have one without the other?

The issue of music and/or lyrics is extremely interesting. If we first consider a song in its historical context, certain lyrical themes have been shown to be more popular at particular times than others. For example, when the prevailing socioeconomic climate has been tough, we’ve tended to prefer songs with more meaningful lyrics. When times have been good, on the other hand, we’ve demonstrated a preference for partying. To give that a little context, consider the following quartet of songs: Physical by Olivia Newton-John, Like A Virgin by Madonna, That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick and Friends, and (Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams. If you listen to the lyrics, those for the first two songs are all about getting together for the here and now. Those for the latter two are about the being together in the future.

The more sexually-driven Physical and Like A Virgin enjoyed success in years when socio-economic hardship was at average levels (1981 and 1984). That’s What Friends Are For and (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, meanwhile, triumphed in years characterised by significantly elevated levels of socio-economic hardship (1986 and 1991). In fact, socio-economic hardship reached its highest level for decades in 1991. This was the year in which the Cold War came to a head and the USSR disintegrated into fifteen sovereign republics. It was also the year in which a thirty-four nation U.S.-led coalition fought against Iraq in operation Desert Storm. And it was the year that (Everything I Do) I Do It For You spent seven weeks at number one in the U.S., nine weeks at number one in Canada, and a record-breaking 16 weeks at the top of the UK charts.

So the value we place upon lyrics will certainly change over time as a function of, among other things, the prevailing socioeconomic situation.

But if we now drill down to the individual song-level, evidence suggests that music and lyrics are not mutually exclusive, and the appeal of each depends to some extent upon the characteristics of the other. For example, lyrics have been shown to enhance perception of sadness, but detract from perception of happiness in music. And there’s neurological evidence to suggest that congruent music and lyrics — happy music paired with happy lyrics, for instance — is especially effective in mood induction. Other studies have shown that, due to our attention becoming more focused when we’re in a negative mood, we listen more carefully to lyrics when they’re paired with sad music. What’s more, specific combinations of musical and lyrical characteristics can optimise the depth of emotional experience induced. Brain scans of people listening to music have shown, for example, that emotional engagement – on a neurological level, and thus beyond conscious control – is greatest when a song consists of negatively-valenced (sad) music paired with similarly-valenced lyrics.

So what does all this mean in practical terms? Given that one of the primary reasons we listen to music is its emotional power, that the stronger the emotion a musical work induces the more we tend to like it, and the interactions between the effects of music and lyrics described above — if you want to write a great song that people will love, make it negatively-valenced (e.g., sad) with lyrics that cut like a knife. Because the more negatively-valenced the music is, the more listeners will pay attention to the lyrics, and the stronger emotion they will feel.


-You recently published research on the psychology behind the shift from listener’s preferring access to music over ownership. Us old school types will remember the rush of holding a new album or CD and fawning over the artistry and the info in the liner notes. Is this now completely obsolete? What does user preference to access mean for the future of streaming?

I also remember with great fondness the more tangible aspects of music ownership, like holding a record or CD (actually, my first ever purchase was a compact cassette), reading through the liner notes and so on. However, I think it’s important to take a step back and consider what music actually is. Music is basically sound organised in time, space and intensity, and as such has existed in some shape or form for hundreds of thousands of years. In fact, there’s good archaeological evidence to suggest that language – and by extension music – has been in development for as much as 1.5 – 2 million years. Yet it’s only in the last 150 years or so that we’ve been able to record it and play it back at will. This initially prompted composers and conductors to complain about how these new-fangled recording devices would take music to the masses and put them out of business. To them, music was a live, ethereal phenomenon that brought people together in the moment. It couldn’t be touched, but there were tangible aspects of the experience, like the concert hall and the social context. Around the middle of the 20th century, the idea that ‘music’ could be owned, held, smelt, and so on entered the mainstream with the rise of what we know as the popular music industry, and this view has prevailed ever since. Of course, we’ve never actually owned the music, only the hardware (and later software) upon which it was stored and could be played back.

But with the advent of streaming, music has become something we borrow. And it’s all about the experience it creates. While this takes away some of the more tangible aspects of ownership, the ability to access virtually any track at any time brings with it a range of benefits of its own. From freeing us from the so-called ‘burdens of ownership’ such as the costs of storage, maintenance and disposal of records and CDs to eliminating the time required to build a huge music collection, streaming actually helps us focus on the thing we’re really interested in – the music.

As with any new technology, streaming was met with initial resistance. It took Spotify seven years to reach 20 million paying subscribers, but less than two more years to reach 50 million. Streaming has now turned a corner. It’s come of age, and there’s no going back. Perhaps the biggest challenge is getting people to pay for it. The simple fact is that music is now perceived as a digital service, and, as such, something people are less willing to pay for. If Spotify is ever to turn a profit, it’s crucial they figure out how to increase their (already impressive) conversion rate from free to paid. Perhaps offering some combination of digital and physical experience is the solution.


-Anything else?

I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to talk about the science of sound and music, especially in relation to quantifying its value since this is an issue close to my heart. Music is a ubiquitous and uniquely human phenomenon that underpins both our private and social lives. We value music because of its emotional impact, and spend one quarter of our waking hours listening to it. Any discussion of its value to individuals, organizations or investors is thus music to my ears.


Geoff Luck’s new book, The Experience Factor, reveals how the world’s most successful music stimulates our mind, captures our heart and seduces our body to keep us listening. It is underpinned by over 200 scientific studies, and bridges the gap between empirical research and applied musical activities such as songwriting, audio branding and music synchronisation. Offering a unique perspective on the music we listen to everyday, it’s a data-driven, practical guide for anyone who loves music.

 Geoff will sharing his insights on the data behind determining a song’s long-term value at Music 4.5 The Value of Music on 6 July 2017 in London. Get your tickets here.



Why you should come to TechPitch 4.5 Fashion, Luxe & Retail

TechPitch 4.5 Fashion, Luxe & Retail will take place on 11 May in London and, if you are a fashion-focused curator and technologist, or a developer of luxe wearables, or have plans to disrupt retail via AI or an innovative new platform, then this is the event for you.

This is also the right event for you if you are a journalist, an investor or angel, a potential partner, a lover of start-up culture looking for employment or collaboration.

Crossover potential?

Technology and platforms developed for fashion, luxe, and retail can often be applied to similar industries, such as music, media, and entertainment, and this is evident in some of the start-ups that will be pitching.

What you’ll see from our selected start-ups

Eight start-ups have been selected from an applicant pool, presenting technologies, platforms and business models that embody the innovation ecosystem in the UK. The themes that have emerged from the eight start-ups selected include:

-Leveraging and managing influencers

-Disruptive customer relationship management

-Utilising technology and AI to create dynamic personalisation

-A triad of solutions for creating bespoke footwear at retail prices

Did we mention our stellar judging panel?

We’re big fans of all our judging panels (naturally), but the panel for TechPitch 4.5 Fashion, Luxe & Retail is a pretty special bunch. With backgrounds and expertise in law, academia, finance and investment, consultancy, entrepreneurship, design and wearables, and technology applications for consumers, their unique, expert take on what start-ups need to do to be successful promises to be insightful and informative.

Who are they?

Adam Glass, Partner, Lewis Silkin is well-known in the fashion and luxury brand industry, representing high-street and luxury brands, start-ups, young designers and photographers. He is visiting lecturer at Condé Nast College of Fashion, and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship MBA at Imperial College.

Carmen Alfonso Rico is an Associate at Felix Capital. She is also a start-up founder, a member of the US Embassy Youth Council, he youngest advisor to the President of a Region in Spain, co-founder of TEDxMorganStanleyLondon, a selected member of Founders of the Future, and is fluent in English, German and Spanish.

Thomas Andersson, Styleintelligence, is a specialist retail and fashion technology consultant and entrepreneur with clients spanning investors, brands & retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers. His background includes stints with innovation specialists, retail consultants, market research firms and Commercial Due Diligence consulting.

Jonathan Chippindale, CEO, Holition, spent 10 years working for the De Beers Group as a Managing Director, and Asprey, Garrard and Mappin & Webb in senior marketing roles. An External Industry Advisor and Visiting Lecturer at University of the Arts London, mentor to BBC Worldwide Labs and TechStars and digital advisor to the University of Cambridge Compass Group, Jonathan is a regular speaker at tech, retail and innovation conferences around the world.

James Paton-Philip, Partner, Irwin Mitchell advises both private and public listed companies on a wide range of domestic and international transactions, including AIM and Main Market listings, mergers and acquisitions, disposals, venture capital and private equity investments, joint ventures and reorganisations. James has a particular focus on the technology sector and advises clients across the full breadth of their lifecycle, from start-up to exit.

Brooke Roberts is an award-winning digital knitwear designer and consultant, and a diagnostic radiographer within the NHS. Brooke recently gave a TED talk explaining how she combines radiography and knitwear design in her clothing range and also launched the Brooke Roberts “Super Women Campaign”. Brooke is passionate about combining science, technology and fashion in her own work and has recently started developing “smart textiles” and wearables through her own agency, Brooke Roberts Ltd. Brooke is a Fashion Tech blogger for the Huffington Post UK and her own blog, Techstyler.

Alison Wiltshire, BT Global Practice lead for Retail & Consumer Goods is responsible for helping BT’s customers give shoppers want they want from “bricks and mortar” stores — great experiences combining the personalisation of online shopping with the entertainment and stimulation of real-life engagement with products and people. She does this through BT’s portfolio of products and services that enable digital transformation.

Don’t miss out! Get your tickets to TechPitch 4.5 Fashion, Luxe & Retail on 11 May 2017 in London now!

“Not dead, yet” – the wearables debate catches pace

Are wearables dead?

Many journalists, commentators and bloggers certainly seem to think so. Citing recent developments such as the less-than-impressive sale price of Pebble to FitBit and Apple’s pivoting its watch from a smartphone interface to a fitness tracker, the consensus seems to be that “wearable tech has had its day”.

And they are right, but only halfway. Let’s call it Wearables 1.0. Much like Web 1.0, wearables generated much hype around how they would revolutionise our lives.

And they did. Sort of. For a little while. Until they didn’t. Or they did, but not as much as we thought they would. But that is now set to change.

Welcome to Wearables 2.0, brought to you by fashion and luxe.

Global tech analyst firm IDC recently reported that the wearables market – while shrinking for fitness – is growing via technology innovations in luxury and fashion. It takes the concept of a wearable a step beyond a watch on a wrist, similar in that it is something most people wear, innovative because the disruption is evolving in other areas, such as clothing, headphones, and even human skin.

Here are some of our current favourite innovations in fashion and luxury wearables:

Skin fabrication

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab and Microsoft Research are blowing our minds with this one. DuoSkin, “a fabrication process that enables anyone to create customized functional devices”, is a tattoo-esque gold-leaf attachment that “enable users to control their mobile devices, display information, and store information on their skin while serving as a statement of personal style.” DuoSkin can be utlitized as an interface for sensing touch input, displaying output, and wireless communication.

Meanwhile, Stanford University is developing wearable transistors that “can be stretched to twice its length without losing conductivity,” making it ideal for embedding in – for example- a human hand.  The idea is that this technology could be leveraged to monitor the health of the wearer.

In Japan, researchers at Waseda University are developing a “nanosheet” film using inkjet printing of circuitry that can be attached to the skin without solideriing (thankfully). The aim is to apply it to a number of wearable applications, including medical, healthcare, and sports training.


Clothing is – not to state the obvious – worn everyday, making it an obvious choice for wearable technology. But the more profound developments are ones that go beyond fitness and into niche areas. We recently profiled a start-up called Sensewear, a collection of clothes created in line with therapies used for Sensory Processing Disorders and autism, designed to stimulate and improve awareness of the senses, while training wearers to better use them all.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. From socks to monitor an infant’s heartrate to a cycling jacket that enables users to answer or ignore calls and use music apps without ever looking at their phone, from running shorts that monitor running cadence and stride length to compression shirts for high-level althetes that lets coaches monitor training metrics in real-time, there is no shortage of innovative and imaginative applications for smart wear.

However, electroically-enabled clothing does not come without its concerns, especially when it comes to recycling. Clothing manufacturing and waste has received a historically bad rap for waste and C02 emissions, although more recently many fashion companies – large and small – are making significant contributions to reducing waste and carbon. However, with wearables, disassembly of batteries and other electronic components is, at the moment, a complex and intricate process with no simple solution.


Even if you don’t have a smartphone, you may well have a set of headphones, whether for music, phone calls, or for noise cancellation. Observe any commuter train, and I’ll wager more than half are plugged in. This has led many start-ups to start playing with creative and innovative ways of evolving headphone technology to create a myriad of new opportunities.

Kokoon Technology has designed sleep-sensing headphones embedded with audio technology to help the user to rest, relax and focus. Doppler has created Here One, a set of airbuds that “blend your streamed audio and the sounds around you to find the perfect balance.” It also provides noise filters as well as the ability to make hands-free phone calls. A double-tap activates Siri or Google Now.

That Spotify is actively recruiting a senior product manager for hardware has led to speculaution that the streaming service is exploring developing its own wearable tech, including headphones with voice-activation, with a longer-term goal, writes Scott Stein of CNET, “for Spotify’s tracks to match up with your running pace to match your workout’s intensity.”

Wearables 2.0, indeed.

What will be the UK’s next contribution to wearable tech?

TechPitch 4.5 Fashion, Luxe & Retail will take place on 11 May 2017 in London. Come see the UK’s innovation ecosystem on stage – eight tech start-ups will pitch their technology and business plan to a panel of expert judges and the audience. Pizza and networking follows. Get your tickets here.






Hospitality recruitment platform Placed wins TechPitch 4.5

TechPitch 4.5 last night crowned Placed (Recruitment LTD) – a hospitality recruitment platform – as its pitching competition winner.

The judges voted Flex – a subscription-enabled video marketplace that leverages technology to tap into the same social drivers as personal training, group sports and gym classes – in second place. Euklid Ltd – a platform using AI to manage investments, with lower operational costs and improved results   – came in third.

Placed (Recruitment LTD)  also came first in the audience vote. White Water Writers – a literacy program that focuses on helping children succeed in education by improving their self-belief and confidence – came in second.

Conceived, organised and executed by 2Pears, the team that connects investors and corporates into the innovation ecosystem and connects tech startups and entrepreneurs with growth opportunities and partners, the TechPitch 4.5 series of events selects 8 tech start-ups to present their business plan in 3 minutes to an expert judging panel and an audience of investors, potential partners, and entrepreneurs.

Held at the offices of Pinsent Masons and chaired by Danvers Baillieu, COO, Cognitive Logic, TechPitch 4.5’s panel of judges encompassed a broad range of skills and expertise across finance, investment, and entrepreneurship. They were:

– Amanda Birkinshaw, Inventor, Angelpie
– Chris Bruce, Director, Advise for Communications Global Telecoms Markets, BT Global Services
– Sabine Eberenz, CommerzBank
– Matt Leach, CEO, Local Trust

The other start-ups who pitched were:

AfterCross Technologies – a productivity app that creates a digital business card directly from your LinkedIn and allows you to exchange it anytime, anywhere and across any device       @aftercrossapp

Cynation – a cyber security and compliance solutions firm that provides innovative automated and intelligent cyber security and information compliance solutions       @cynationltd

Grocemania – an online market place and on-demand delivery platform for local grocery retailers       @grocemania

I’m in Diary – a social calendar app, designed to make it easier to organise events with your friends       @imindiary 

Prior to the pitching, Chris Bruce, Director, Advise for Communications Global Telecoms Markets, BT Global Services, provided a short keynote where he shared tips and insight into how tech startups and entrepreneurs should engage with corporates, and what startup and entrepreneur initiatives BT in particular is involved in.

The TechPitch 4.5 series of pitching competitions will continue throughout the year, encompassing all facets of technology, with specialisms in: Fashion, Luxe & Retail; Music, Media & Entertainment; Sport, Health & Fitness; and PLAY.


TechPitch 4.5’s supporting partners and sponsors were Invesdor, NetLeadz, MediaTainment Finance, Bootlaw, TechMutiny, Interchange, The Swiss Embassy, and Cognitive Logic.

TechPitch 4.5 – Fashion, Luxe & Retail will take place on 11 May 2017. Eight start-ups have already been selected – you can view the full list here.

TechPitch 4.5 for general tech will take place on 4 July 2017 and 3 October – both are still open to start-up applications to pitch.

TechPitch 4.5 Music, Media & Entertainment and TechPitch 4.5 Sport, Health & Fitness will take place in the autumn. Check our website for updates. 

Brexit Britain is addressing the SME funding gap: SEIS and EIS explained

Ed. note: We’re pleased as punch to re-post this fantastic article by Simon Keeling and Hazel Lucian of Crowe Clark Whitehill. It originally appeared on the blog of our partners at Invesdor, and is re-printed here with permission. 

British business has received a boost after the Chancellor laid out plans to make the UK the most competitive major economy in the world. It is widely acknowledged that the success and growth of SMEs is integral for the UK’s return to a stable growth economy. In order to address the funding gap, UK is on a mission to have the world’s most competitive tax scheme for investors into start-ups and scale ups. Two such existing schemes are SEIS and EIS.

We therefore asked Crowe Clark Whitehill, one of the UK‘s leading audit, tax and advisory firms, to explain the key aspect of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS). What it is, how to get it and how to keep investors happy during the process.

What are SEIS and EIS?

SEIS and EIS are designed to help UK companies raise finance by offering tax relief to UK investors on certain new share issues. For the investor, it’s a tax efficient way to invest in your company.

SEIS reliefs for investors – Tax benefits

  • Income tax relief of up to 50% of the amount invested in SEIS qualifying shares up to £100,000 in the tax year that the qualifying shares are acquired.
  • SEIS investments can be 100% inheritance tax exempt after they are held for two years.
  • Investors are normally exempt from paying any capital gains tax from the sale of their SEIS qualifying shares after three years.
  • Losses (net of income tax relief already obtained) on SEIS investments can be offset against income or capital gains in the tax year in which the disposal occurs, or in the previous year, or both.

EIS reliefs for UK investors – Tax benefits

  • Income tax relief of 30% of the amount invested in EIS qualifying shares can be offset against personal income tax liabilities up to £1 million.
  • Investors facing capital gains tax liabilities on other investments can use their EIS investment to defer the capital gains.
  • EIS investments can be 100% inheritance tax exempt after they are held for two years.
  • Investors are exempt from paying any capital gains tax from the sale of their EIS qualifying shares, provided the shares have been held for at least three years.

How do your shares qualify?

The company will send an application to HMRC once the shares have been issued. HMRC will need to be satisfied that the:

  • company is a qualifying company
  • shares to be issued will be eligible shares
  • shares will be issued to raise money for a qualifying business activity
  • the money raised is to be used only by a company that satisfies the rules of the scheme.

Investors will want advanced assurance that your company will qualify

The legislation which governs these reliefs is very complicated with lots of room to fall foul of technicalities.

Before you issue shares you can apply for Advanced Assurance from HMRC. This is a confirmation from HMRC that (based on the information you provide) the shares you issue will be eligible for SEIS or EIS, reassuring investors that they are eligible to claim personal tax reliefs on their investments in your company.

How does your company get Advanced Assurance?

Write a letter to HMRC including the following information:

  • a covering letter
  • details of the amounts intended to be raised
  • details of what these monies will be used for
  • details of all trading or other activities to be carried on by the company and any subsidiary
  • articles of association
  • subscription and shareholders agreement (otherwise called an ‘investment agreement’) or other such similar documentation
  • your business plan (sometimes referred to as an information memorandum, or similar document such as a pitch deck)
  • recent accounts of the company (if any)
  • the company’s corporation tax reference number
  • confirmation of the number of shares which qualified for SEIS/EIS previously issued or that the company has not received any previous investment from a Venture Capital Trust
  • details of any UK or EU state aid received. 

How long does it take?

If you have provided all relevant information and documents with your application in a correct and clear manner then we find that it is currently taking HMRC between six and eight weeks to respond.

If HMRC have any queries they will ask for you to send additional documentation via post, again their response is likely to take an additional six to eight weeks.

Your company has Advance Assurance – now what?

1.     Get ready to offer shares in your company to investors

Understand your obligations to your investors. Take professional advice particularly in relation to your offer document and any shareholder agreements. It is only new issues of shares that can qualify under SEIS and EIS.

2.     SEIS first, EIS after

If you are planning on fundraising for both ensure that you allow a suitable time to pass between the issue of the SEIS shares and the EIS shares.

3.     Watch the gross assets limits for share subscriptions

Make sure that any share subscriptions from investors do not breach the ‘gross assets’ test at the time of the share issue. More likely to be a problem under SEIS with its lower £200k gross assets limit.

To carry on the conversation or find out how Crowe can help you with your Advanced Assurance application please contact us:

Authored by Simon Keeling ( and Hazel Lucian (

What Brexit? UK sees tech start-up surge after Article 50

We’ll be honest – none of us at 2Pears HQ are fans of Brexit. Perhaps it’s because most of us are from outside the UK, and have each been living and working here for decades. However. Our raison d’être is UK start-ups and we are as pleased as anyone that there is good start-up and investment news coming out of the Article 50 cloud.

The number of UK tech start-ups has doubled since Brexit

Consulting firm RSM announced earlier this month that the number of tech company incorporations in the UK has more than doubled since the referendum.

“There were fears that the Brexit vote would dampen activity in the tech sector and businesses would be attracted overseas,” said RSM technology partner Richard Heap. “In reality, they are staying and multiplying.”

It starts with a pitch…

While we should be encouraged by the enthusiasm, innovation and entrepreneurship that underpins these numbers, an increase in the number of start-ups needs to be put into context. Start-ups at their incorporation are at the start of a very long journey that includes – to name a few – honing their proposition, building an audience, creating an MVP, and forming relationships with potential partners and investors. Crucial to all of these elements is how start-ups pitch their business.

…but many UK start-ups are ill-equipped

Presentation design agency Buffalo 7 recently surveyed a range of marketing professionals and found that many UK companies struggle to give a winning pitch. From lack of in-house design expertise to a dearth of pitch training, 76 per cent of the companies surveyed said they’d pitched in the last 12 months, with 54 per cent are losing half or more of the pitches they’d entered.

For start-ups, however, in-house design teams and qualified pitch training are two of many items on a very long wish list. If you are a newly incorporated start-up, what is your best foray into the world of pitching?

Start small, and get out there

The UK is bursting with pitching competitions for start-ups. Some have large prizes and collaborations for winners; some are vertical and industry specific. But if you’re new to pitching and want to learn what makes a great pitch and presentation, here’s what you do:

Go to pitching competitions. As many as you can. Some are free; some offer discounts to start-ups.

Listen. Discover for yourself how other start-ups pitch. What works and what doesn’t? What draws you in? Which formats best express a start-up’s business model, USPs, and go-to-market plan?

Watch. How do presenters pitch? Do they have a sleek deck? Do they read what’s on the slides or use it as a backdrop? Are slides necessary?

Network. Most pitching events have a networking portion where you can meet like-minded peers, potential partners, investors and employees, as well as journalists and marketers. Many of the start-ups we’ve met have said that the friendships and partnerships they’ve made at such events last a lifetime.

TechPitch 4.5 takes place on 25 April, 4 July, and 3 October, with TechPitch 4.5 Fashion, Luxe & Retail taking place on 11 May. Learn more, get tickets, and apply to pitch on our website.


Closing The Value Gap – On Terrestrial Radio?

This post was written by digital music strategist and journalist Matt Voyno and originally appeared on

For months, YouTube has been the music service the industry loves to hate. Love, because of its huge audience that can clearly break artists and boost releases.  Hate, because of the comparatively small revenue it returns to creators and rightsholders. But now broadcast radio is feeling the heat, and for exactly the same reasons.

Recently at the Music 4.5 seminar at Reed Smith offices in NYC members of music industry from SiriusXM, BMI, RIAA, Nielsen, A2IM and more came together to talk the economics of streaming music and closing the value gap.

Speakers discussed the issues facing artists and the industry on both the major label and indie side of things. There was talk about all of the varied streaming rates, the evolution of streaming music, and of course YouTube, the biggest free streaming service in the world. While YouTube is still a clear obstacle to higher streaming rates for artists, labels, and the music industry at large, it has made good on it’s promise to bring more of the music industry on-side and tackle the pressing issues. 

But the surprise theme of the Economics of Streaming seminar was how some of the music industry has shifted their attack from YouTube to Radio. Yes, you read that right, Terrestrial Radio or as A2IM CEO Richard Burgess put it “The original streaming service.” At A2IM Richard has touch points with thousands of record labels and hundreds of thousands of jobs directly related to the music industry. Richard talked about how in the year 2020 it will be the 100 year anniversary of radio and during that time it’s mainly been “A CENTURY OF SHAME.” 

Total US Radio revenue last year was $17Billion. How much went to artists, labels, musicians? $ZERO$. Not one red cent. For years Radio relied on the argument that it was a “promotion tool,” well that argument doesn’t hold up in 2017. We have moved on as a listening public. Streaming is the new Radio and it pays 70% of it’s profits to artists. 

“I don’t believe it’s music’s responsibility to manage the growth potential of the business using it.” This argument was from Barry Massarsky, the go-to music industry economist and consultant, who basically shut down any arguments from those complaining that streaming services are being pressed too hard by the music industry. Barry went on to show how in a regulated market economy you do not achieve a fair value for music. Looking at Radio, Satellite Radio, Internet Radio, and Streaming Music you see just how little Terrestrial Radio pays. Under 3% of Radio’s total revenue goes back to the artists—those same artists who are the foundation of their entire industry. It’s incredible that Radio has gotten away with this for so long. Well according to Barry the industry is “mad as hell, and they’re not going to take it anymore.”

Ultimately the attack on Terrestrial Radio is because the digital music service providers are attempting to use historic Radio rates in today’s negotiations. Both Barry and Richard echoed that historic rates cannot be trusted when finding the true value of music. That radio does not pay for music is increasingly damaging in a streaming economy. It amounts to a government mandated subsidy that makes it more difficult to negotiate with digital services providers. 

If artists want a fair play for fair pay from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Pandora and the rest, then they need to bend the will of the last hold out in the free music game: Radio needs to pay. It feels like this movement is just getting started and as the industry makes critical decisions on the future streaming rates/the livelihood of creators then Radio needs to get the message that the gravy train is over and artists won’t take it anymore. 

Read the 4.5 Blog’s coverage of Music 4.5 The Economics of Streaming

Music 4.5 What Is The Value Of Music? will take place on 6 July 2017 in London.

Follow Matt on Twitter