Music Tectonics reveals four finalists in Swimming With Narwhals Startup Pitch Competition

A new wave of music tech startups are emerging, showing a maturation of the music industry. Startups pitched ideas at the forefront of innovation at Music Tectonics’ Swimming with Narwhals Music Tech Startup Competition Semi-finals last week. Now, four finalists are taking their pitches to the Music Tectonics Conference in Santa Monica, California October 25-27, 2022. The competition is a pulse check on new ideas emerging and, from the looks of it, a lot of originality is still in store.  

Semi-final judges Fred McIntyre (Capacitance, Managing Director), Isabelle Persson (Expert Dojo, Head of Investment), and Tom Windish (Wasserman Music, EVP, Head of Business Development and A&R) heard ten fresh pitches from startups across the ecosystem. 

“At the semi-final, we heard from booking platforms, stem separation and monetization platforms, artist investment, NFT marketplace convergence, haptics, music creation combined with NFTs, a unique instrument, synch workflow, and video platforms,” says MT conference director Dmitri Vietze, ”It was a great snapshot of where music innovation is happening—which is everywhere.”

From among 10 diverse ideas, the judges selected the four finalists based on the originality of their ideas, product-market fit, and potential for success.

Introducing the 2022 Swimming with Narwhals Finalists:

  • AudioShake (Jessica Powell) uses AI to open up songs to new monetization and creative possibilities by separating songs into their stems and instrumentals. 
  • Opnr (Dre Wallace) is a cloud-based, double-sided marketplace platform that uses data to connect musicians with concert organizers offering opener performance opportunities. 
  • Tuney (Antony Demekhin) is an adaptive music engine and creator tool, making it easy for creators to soundtrack their videos. 
  • Viktrs (Mark Bamford) takes video content to the next level by capturing audience engagement within music videos. 

Fred McIntyre recognized all the innovators who pitched in the semifinals, saying  “I was impressed with so many creative ideas coming from the Narwhal applicant pool. I am excited to see what they do next!” The founders of semi-finalists Amptup, BaseNote, Dopr, EDGE Sound Research, / Neutune, and ODD Studios are all ones to watch.

The four finalists will go on to demo their products at a “Startup Carousel” and present final pitches in person at the conference. The final jury includes Joe Tou, MD of Sony Innovation Fund and Brian Mac Mahon, head of the accelerator Expert DOJO. Winners selected by jury choice and audience choice will be announced on the last day of the conference.

The winner of the first “Swimming with Narwhals” competition, Jacquelle Amankonah Horton, sees the experience as a springboard for her startup 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.”

Why Narwhals?  The Music Tectonics team chose the real one-horned sea creature, sometimes called the “unicorn whale,” as their mascot to gently poke fun at the cultural obsession with billion-dollar unicorn startups. Music Tectonics’ competition keeps 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, Swimming with Narwhals is welcoming and mutually supportive. 

Conference badges ($350 in advance, $450 at the door) are now available at, along with an event schedule and speaker roster. Innovators in music and tech share ideas and get business done across industry boundaries at the fourth annual Music Tectonics Conference, Oct. 25-27, 2022. Three days of all-in-person programming at eclectic venues in Santa Monica, CA, include:

  • “Beacons of Culture” keynote with Spotify head of Innovation Máuhan Zonoozy
  • Data-driven seminar on the Future of Music with MIDiA Research
  • High-powered panels on emerging trends in music innovation
  • Music Tech Carnival of AR/VR music experiences, and much more

The 2022 Music Tectonics Conference is designed to rally music innovators of all stripes: startups, major labels, indie labels, Web3 disruptors, streaming services, distributors, social media platforms, investors, accelerators, legal experts, live event execs, gear makers, music software developers, consultants—in short, everyone who works where music and tech meet. 

Music Tectonics unites innovators in music and tech to share ideas and get business done across industry boundaries. The fourth annual conference returns to an all-in-person format in Santa Monica, CA, October 25-27, 2022. Join us for three days of programming about the future of music that prepares you to ride the next seismic shifts shaking up the industry.

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Loves long walks along the beach, holding hands and romantic 80's power ballads, partial to electronic music and likes to make the odd mix or two.