AI-generated tracks are giving new life to the music industry but the use of these nascent technologies also introduces many new challenges as evidenced by an AI-generated track of the late Biggie Smalls rapping Nas’ NY State of Mind hitting the internet in April of this year and the “Fake Drake” track that went viral this past spring as well. As technology ushers in new forms of creativity in music, a number of startups are looking to harness its power in a way that benefits both fans as well as artists. Hook is an AI-powered music generation platform that allows users to create and distribute their own fan remixes of songs for use on social media legally. Remix culture is going mainstream and Hook represents a new avenue for artists to drive engagement and connect with their fans while earning an additional revenue stream. Fans are able to imprint their own personal touches on their favorite tracks, opening up unprecedented opportunities for music creators without worrying about violating copyrights. The app will launch in private beta later this year with public beta on the horizon.
AlleyWatch caught up with Hook Founder and CEO Gaurav Sharma to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, recent round of funding, and much, much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Hook raised a $3M Seed round, led by Steve Cohen’s Point72 Ventures and Waverley Capital, cofounded by former Warner Music Group CEO, Edgar Bronfman, Jr. Other participants in the funding round include Mark Gillespie’s Three Six Zero and Avex, Japan’s leading entertainment brand.
Tell us about the product or service that Hook offers.
Hook is a music technology platform that is innovating the way music is expressed on social media. Hook provides intuitive AI-powered tools that empower fans to quickly, easily and legally create new versions of their favorite songs for use on social media, while also creating a new stream of revenue for artists and labels.
What inspired the start of Hook?
I am the former Chief Operating Officer of JioSaavn – India’s largest music streaming service. While working in streaming, I realized music discovery was happening on social media via fan expression of their favorite music. While remixes and fan expression was helping artists get to new categories of fans, artists and labels weren’t getting paid for the remixes. Hook’s goal is to be at the center of the entire emerging music creator economy and support artists.
How is Hook different?
Artist and Industry first. We are the only music company leveraging AI in a way that truly supports the industry, we’re built by experienced people from the industry, and we’re backed by the industry.
What market does Hook target and how big is it?
Every user of social media that uses music as part of their self-expression.
What’s your business model?
There’s an emerging music creator economy that we aim to be the center of. Artists and labels should use us to get to influencers and fans that drive their success. Think of Hook’s revenue model as part-marketing agency, part-capcut.
How are you preparing for a potential economic slowdown?
We’ve been focused on a business model with a path to profitability.
What was the funding process like?
We have been fortunate to have met some incredible people on the funding side who were willing to make a bet on us at a very tough moment in fundraising. I met Ishan Sinha from Point72 Ventures back in January and their support has been incredible. Point72 Ventures helped us navigate this moment and connect us with investors that have legendary experience like Edgar Bronfman Jr and the Waverley team. We’re humbled by the support and recognize that our investors have not only financially backed us but really helped support us in finding more partners that align with our vision.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The music industry doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to finding experienced teams on both the consumer, tech and licensing side. We believe we are all 3.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Experience, industry support, a great team, and great investors.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Private beta & public launches.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Prove product market fit and deeply understand your industry.
What’s your favorite fall destination in and around the city?
The private beta of Hook will launch in November.