THE RATTLE Offers a First of a Kind Incubator for Musos and Music Tech Entrepreneurs
When two old friends with a love of music combine their respective talents and passions for a business project, it sounds kinda predictable. But Chris Howard and Bobby Bloomfield aren’t just any duo. Chris is a serial entrepreneur with a PhD in Computations Physics and a background in nurturing entrepreneurship for organisations such as TechStars and Harvard University. Bobby Bloomfield brings an extensive career in music, having played around the world in the band Does It Offend You, Yeah? and written and produced a wide variety of music. Their business is the creation of The Rattle, an incubator which turns music makers and music technologists into music entrepreneurs. Think of a great space that offers not only co-working desks but recording studios, performance space, mentorship, and workshops. We met with CEO and Cofounder Chris Howard to find out more.
Howard explained that after a number of years working in the US he moved back home to set up the UK chapter of Mass Challenge, and then became an investor advisor to lots of different startups over the years. He explained that he helped co-found six companies, and “Sometimes I invest, sometimes I don’t, but I always give people 1-3 days a week capital building help because I love it, I just love first-time founders, they’re just naïve enough to do stupid thing and take risks”.
He reunited with his friend Bobby and went to visit his music studio only to realise that it was actually a 1 bedroom studio apartment in Dalston where he was also living.
“I felt like a dick, I was looking around going where’s the mansion? And he told me this story about how musicians and bands start in the same place as talented tech makers but the role massively diverge in terms of empowerment. The culture of developing in the music business is the antithesis of the startup model. So we decided to join our experiences and try to bring the Silicon Valley attitude to the music”.
What are the needs of aspiring musicians?
Howard believes that while many musicians think they need money, they actually need a network and an entrepreneurial mindset not dissimilar to that of a tech startup founder:
“So if we can help bolster the network and promote a mindset around hacking solutions together then you can get to outcomes that traditional business models just don’t support which is how startups begin.
You have to have a hack your way if you want to have any credibility with the music business giants. Otherwise, they’ll just see you as an employee of a label as opposed to a founder of your own company. If you give people all the founder power, you give them the same leverage and the same coaching as a tech entrepreneur. Then there’s no reason they can’t manage these deals from a position of strength.”
Speak my language on my horizon
The Rattle are aiming for a breakdown of 50/50 membership divided between creatives and techpreneurs, cohorts which have their own particular challenges:
“One of the biggest issues is actually a language issue. The language of a creative in the music world and how they express decision making is very different to how a business executive speaks. We want to act as a translator.
Howard also explained the importance of building connections between people building music tech and musicians:
“Music makers don’t know the tech that’s on the horizon. By the time it matures it’s too late to help them. When musicians started jumping on Spotify, Spotify had already sold most of its equity to record labels. It was a bit too late to form a strong bond. We want to make sure people are aware of the technologies which are on the horizon”.
In turn, The Rattle enables people working in music tech to get the opportunity to access and connect with the very people they want to be using their products. This means they can define and refine their product and move forward.
Membership is highly competitive
In regards to who is lucky enough to join The Rattle community, understandably the competition is fierce. Membership will be heavily curated and handpicked. As Howard explains:
“We vet for talent, they need to make us and three mentors go ‘wow!’. We’re not looking for a commercial talent just a wow effect and some attitude conducive to hustling, hacking, and an entrepreneurial mindset”.
Howard notes that in regards to inclusion, it’s less of an issue for the creative talent that will join them “In terms of art it’s the most multiculturally diverse economy on the planet. Yet when it comes to the business side of things we want to make sure our mentor pool is balanced, reflecting the diversity of the tech sector.
Mentoring is a key component of The Rattle. The incubator will have an Entrepreneur in Residence, Artist in Resident and Producer in residence who are culture beacons and hosts of the community. Then there’s also a network of around 80-100 mentors that will offer specific expertise ranging from tech to finance, musicians, engineers, label executives and more.
The Rattle is kicking off a Crowdfunding round with Crowdcube this week. Watch this space for updates and join our facebook community to find out more.