Getting in tune: 15 European startups making (sound) waves in the music industry

As the pool of digital music startups continues to grow with the ever-evolving music landscape, we thought it was time to highlight 15 European-grown companies making waves in the industry.
Getting in tune: 15 European startups making (sound) waves in the music industry

With Spotify bringing video ads to its streaming service and SoundCloud recently launching ads to its platform, it seems the more established European music startups are pushing forward and beginning to really buckle down on making money.

Meanwhile, others such as UK-based music streaming startup and Israeli-based social music site Serendip have faced a not-so-rosy fate.

But this hasn't stopped European entrepreneurs from tackling the music space.

Every year, at conferences like Midem and Berlin Music Week, wide-eyed digital music newcomers enter the scene determined to change a facet of the world of music.

As the pool of tech music startups continues to grow, we thought it was time to highlight 15 European-grown companies making waves in the industry, particularly in the realms of music streaming, creation, marketing and social engagement.

1) Spotify

SpotifyHeadquarters: Stockholm, Sweden

Gist: Founded in 2006, popular music streaming service Spotify is currently available in 57 markets across the globe. The company, which has reportedly garnered more than 40 million active users and over 10 million paid subscribers, has received about $537 million in funding. And their HQ is pretty cool.

2) Deezer

DeezerHeadquarters: Paris, France

Gist: Music streaming service Deezer, founded in 2006, is live in more than 180 countries around the word. The company is backed by approximately $150 million in financing. Deezer claims to have 16 million active users and 5 million paid subscribers.

3) Zvooq

ZvooqHeadquarters: Moscow, Russia

Gist: Zvooq (Russian for 'sound') is a digital music streaming service available in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Recently, it announced a $20 million Series A funding round.

4) SoundCloud

SoundCloudHeadquarters: Berlin, Germany

Gist: Founded in 2007 by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss, SoundCloud is a social platform that lets users upload, share and stream audio of all types. The company, which reportedly sees about 175 million unique listeners on its platform per month, has raised more than $100 million in venture capital.

5) Mixcloud

MixcloudHeadquarters: London, UK

Gist: Mixcloud, founded in 2008, dubs itself as the "home for on-demand radio shows, DJ mixes and podcasts". The service, which counts about 10 million monthly users, recently introduced subscription plans in an attempt to laser in on monetization. They're also bootstrapping the business, which is refreshing.

6) Stereomood

StereomoodHeadquarters: Rome, Italy

Gist: Founded in 2008 by Giovanni Ferron, Daniele Novaga, Maurizio Pratici and Eleonora Viviani, Stereomood is a free music streaming service and tool that creates playlists based on a mood or occasion. In 2012, it announced an undisclosed seed round from seed investment firms.


PlaylistsHeadquarters: Tyne and Wear, UK

Gist: Formerly, is a Spotify community and music curation startup. Launched in 2009, the startup claims 1 million users and has raised £600,00 in funding. There were talks, a couple of months ago, that was in the process of getting acquired but it's been quiet since.

8) Songkick

songkickHeadquarters: London, UK

Gist: Founded in 2007 by Ian Hogarth, Pete Smith and Michelle You, Songkick is a service that helps users track and discover concerts. The company reportedly brings in 10 million "unique fans" each month and is backed by about $16.6 million in funding.

9) Soundrop

SoundropHeadquarters: Oslo, Norway

Gist: Founded in 2011, Soundrop offers a social music discovery app as well as marketing tools for artists and labels to promote their music. The startup has received about $6.4 million in funding to date and boasts offices in Oslo, New York, Los Angeles and London.

10) Hello Stage

HelloStageHeadquarters: Vienna, Austria

Gist: Founded by Bernhard Kerres (former artistic director and CEO of the Wiener Konzerthaus) and launched in 2013, Hello Stage is an online community aiming to connect classical musicians and ensembles to managers and promoters.

11) This Is My Jam

this is my jamHeadquarters: London, UK

Gist: Founded by Hannah Donovan and Matthew Ogle and launched in 2012, This Is My Jam is a service that lets users share one favourite song at a time and discover music along the way. The startup recently released a redesign as well as announced 500,000 song pages.

12) Sofar Sounds

Headquarters: London, UKSofar

Gist: Started in 2011 in a tiny flat in north London, Sofar Sounds is a music discovery community that curates intimate live concerts in unique spaces around the world. It is backed by notable investors including Peter Read, Max Niederhofer and Stefan Glaenzer among others.

13) Sidestage

SidestageHeadquarters: Berlin, Germany

Gist: Launched in July of this year, Sidestage is a musician booking platform – similar to US startup Gigit – that is currently available in Berlin and London. The startup was founded by Schuyler Deerman, who previously started messaging app Moped, which was acquired by fellow Berlin startup 6Wunderkinder.

14) Soundwave

soundwaveHeadquarters: Dublin, Ireland

Gist: Founded by Brendan O'Driscoll, Aidan Sliney and Craig Watson in 2012, Soundwave is a mobile app that lets you share songs instantly with friends as well as tracks what you listen to across multiple platforms. Steve Wozniak was reportedly an early fan of the app.

15) 3plet

3pletHeadquarters: Tallinn, Estonia

Gist: While many have chosen to stream music online rather than purchasing an album these days, 3plet still believes in the album experience. Founded by Vlad Davydov and Valery Mifodovsky in 2012, the startup offers a platform enabling artists to release their albums as interactive mobile apps. 

Any major ones we missed? Let us know.

UPDATE: Here’s some more music startups – suggested by readers (thanks for feedback!) – that fall into our criteria:

  • Epidemic Sound (Stockholm, Sweden) – Founded in 2009, Epidemic Sound has been building a library of music (it wholly owns) so production companies, broadcasters, professional editors and composers can subscribe for unlimited use
  • Baboom (Porto, Portugal) – Kim Dotcom soft-launched the service, which is an iTunes-Spotify hybrid that lets artists sell directly to their audience, in January of this year
  • (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) – Founded in 2010, is an Internet radio powered by popular music blogs
  • BeatSwitch (Antwerp, Belgium) – A cloud-based platform aimed to help artists, booking agencies and festival organizers collaborate more efficiently
  • 22tracks (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) – Founded in 2009, 22tracks is a music discovery platform offering playlists curated by "top DJs" from various European capitals
  • Music Gateway (London, UK) – Music Gateway offers a platform and tools aiming to connect music industry professionals with each other for new projects
  • Red Karaoke (Madrid, Spain) – Online singing community and digital karaoke service Red Karaoke provides music streaming in nine languages
  • Aurovine (UK) – A digital music site that lets artists sell directly to fans and set their own prices on music

Featured image credit: Anna Baburkina / Shutterstock

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