Everyone can shoot video but few can record or afford a legal soundtrack. Until now. With Jukedeck’s new artificial intelligence music composition technology, creators can get a cheap, royalty free soundtrack custom-made for their video. Jukedeck users don’t even need musical talent. They just select the mood, style, tempo and length, and Jukedeck returns a unique song to match their short film, YouTube series or 6-second Vine.
Today after years in stealth, Jukedeck is launching its service onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt London’s Startup Battlefield. Independent video makers can get their first five songs a month free before paying just $7 a track, and larger businesses pay $15 per soundtrack. And for $150, creators may buy the exclusive copyright for their song. The company’s private beta already saw Google, London’s Natural History Museum, and the English royal family working with Jukedeck.
“We’re in the age of personal creation. This is the time for it,” says Jukedeck co-founder and CEO Ed Rex. With 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, Jukedeck has a near infinite supply of potential customers. And if the music actually helps people tell their stories, Jukedeck could enhance the artistry of today’s fastest-growing communication medium.
Rex was studying music at Cambridge when he began toying with the idea for Jukedeck. While visiting his girlfriend at Harvard, a computer science lecture convinced him composition AI was possible so he set off learning to code. Rex then built a prototype and teamed up with childhood friend and fellow choirboy Patrick Stobbs, who’d been striking video partnerships for YouTube.
Together the two figured out the business model around supporting video creators and went on to raise £625,000 from Cambridge Enterprise and Cambridge Innovation Capital. Now Jukedeck has secured another £2 million in funding from Cambridge Innovation Capital with participation from Backed LLP, Playfair Capital, and Parkwalk Advisors. And today, its first product Jukedeck MAKE opens publicly.
Users design their song with the MAKE control panel. They can pick mood (energetic, melancholic), style/sounds (modern, classical, piano, synthesizers), tempo (beats per minute) and length. The selections are sent back to MAKE in the cloud and within ten to thirty seconds, a tailored track is sent back to the user. They can preview it, accept and download the MP3, or modify their selections and ask Jukedeck for another creation. The download is effectively a global, royalty-free license to use the song.
For comparison, without Jukedeck, most videographers are left combing through endless libraries of stock music like PremiumBeat or Audio Network. They must go by vague descriptions and genres as they waste time listening to each track trying to find one that matches their video. Even if they find one, it’s likely to be the wrong length, so they’ll have to try to edit it to fit. These songs can be expensive, and Rex notes that “the same tracks are being used by everyone, which takes away from the uniqueness of their videos.” The alternative is a human-made custom composition that costs much more.
Jukedeck’s few competitors are either more complicated desktop software like AthTek Digiband, or require you to start with your own melody like Ludwig. The biggest shortcoming of Jukedeck is that there are only a few options for customizing the sound of your song, though the company plans to add more in the future. What I think would be especially valuable would be options for defining whether you want the intro and outro to be more gradual or sudden. But the startup’s hardest job, just making the algorithms work, is already done.
To grow, Jukedeck hopes to infiltrate the tight-knit community of videographers, and have them voluntarily tell other creators about the product directly or through the credits sections of their clips. Jukedeck also plans to award users with free downloads for each user they refer.
Down the line, Rex imagines his technology could fuel personalized music both online and offline. Imagine watching an ad or walking into a store and hearing music tuned on the fly specifically to your tastes. For now, Rex concludes that “Music production is limited to a small subset of people. But we’re giving everyone in the world their own composer.”
During Jukedeck’s Startup Battlefield presentation, Rex blew the crowd away by flawlessly rapping a version of his pitch over Jukedeck-made music. You can watch that here:
In the Q&A, Rex and Stobbs explained that now is the time for Jukedeck since AI is advancing quickly as video creation explodes. Each time you use Jukedeck, you’ll get a new song even if you put in the same parameters. The 12-person team is pushing to add new musical styles, but right now its limited to 4 and can’t do niche genres like punk. Jukedeck licenses allow anything other than reselling the track.
The company is comfortable with some users not paying because Jukedeck plans to license its technology to platforms like Facebook and YouTube. That way it can earn money off amateur users even if those people don’t pay directly.