Digital Dialogue

Digital Dialogue is an interview/guest-blog series presented by Byta, and written by friends of Byta. Exploring niche, behind-the-scenes topics within the digital realm of the music ecosystem, Digital Dialogue presents readers with insights into challenges, successes and passion topics in the day-to-day life of those working deep in digital.

The Importance of Music Tech Mentors and Why Founders Need Them with Beth Raebeck Hall (MusicRow411)

The Importance of Music Tech Mentors and Why Founders Need Them with Beth Raebeck Hall (MusicRow411)

Who are you? What do you do?

My name is Beth Raebeck Hall. I’m a lifelong creator and I’m based in Nashville, TN.

What are you currently listening to?

Marc Broussard, Silk Sonic, Chris Stapleton

Give us a small insight into your daily routine…

My day never looks the same, which is great! As a small business owner and Master Mentor for Music Tech startups, it’s critical I stay on top of the ever-changing landscape of the business.  My week always involves a lot of writing, meetings and calls, and spending time with my Founders at The Wondry.

– Over to you, Beth!

The Importance of Music Tech Mentors and Why Founders Need Them

In 1877 David Edward Hughes invented the microphone which eventually became essential technology for any audio or video sound recordings,

Today, thousands of inventions have dramatically altered all areas of the music business, and are lumped into a broad category called ‘Music Tech’.

Now proposed solutions (inventions) are often called ‘startups’. For serious founders, having mentors is essential for success. Starting things is easy, but the reality is that 90% of startups fail in the first year. 

When it comes right down to it – an idea on its own is just not good enough. Like a child, a founder/startup needs nourishment, encouragement, education, guidance and direction, as well as great discipline to succeed. Mentors can provide these things.

Programs like Techstars, view the history of breakthrough technology as the history of people, teams, and partners working in sync to achieve their goals and scale their ideas. They attempt to bring together ambitious founders and corporations, Enabling innovation through creative, powerful relationships. They primarily use the expertise and wisdom of mentors, who are typically volunteers with a desire to pay it forward. Having advised over 80 Music Tech companies, it’s become increasingly clear to me why founders need mentors more than ever. 

One of my advisee companies, Rootnote, has just completed Techstars Sports and it has been a game-changer for them. They have taken advantage  of the incredible networking afforded them and have an enviable list of potential funding sources.

While part of the Project Music cohort, (at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center) they took full advantage of mentors – matching their needs to people and resource connections provided by the mentor team members. To give you an idea, they completed over 500 customer discovery calls to fully evaluate both the viability and functionality of their platform.

Rootnote continued to evaluate and refine its offering, eventually making a complete pivot to the product they now offer, (CODA) which is a white-label SAAS product. They have clarified their message to the following:

“RootNote saves content creators and their teams hours every week by doing the dirty work for them: tracking and analyzing their social, content, and revenue data — from anywhere that matters to them. Turn that precious time into money by using it to create, communicate with and sell to your audience, and land brand deals.

Currently, they are conducting a 750K pre-seed raise. To learn more visit rootnote.co.

Speaking of funding, it is the hardest piece of the equation and a challenge for even the most seasoned founders. It sounds so sexy to say ‘I own a piece of X company’. But the reality is that most funders at any stage; friends and family, seed stage, Series A are a hard bunch to convince to part with their money.

Funding for startups has never been more competitive, or harder to come by. Mentor experience and wisdom help founders avoid serious mistakes, develop and refine their ideas, evaluate the viability of their product, explore the appropriate funding routes available, and provide much-needed support and guidance. They can assist founders with everything from ‘best practices’ to the right business and revenue models necessary for success. 

The value of mentor guidance, typically free, is priceless. Mentors are service-driven leaders who want a win-win for the teams they work with. 

AI aside, the proliferation of new music tech options is astounding. 

For most founders, navigating the reality of what’s actually needed to solve industry problems, keeping up with similar tech, funding challenges and running a business is pretty overwhelming. 

Sometimes timing does not align with product/market fit. One company I worked with won TechCrunch Disrupt New York as a Wildcard pick. A succession of funding and other opportunities allowed them to gain traction, as well as a ton of global press.

However, the founders decided to move into the blockchain space. Despite tremendous support for the product from a customer need standpoint, the product viability lost it’s lustre because the blockchain/crypto model was too foreign for consumers and for funders. 

Having burned through their runway and years of insane work by the founders, there were simply too many other options available for the consumer once they hit the blockchain dead-end.

And, this company had a stellar group of advisors from the highest levels of industry. But sadly….. the timing of their decision to go left into blockchain ended their journey. Who knows what would have happened had they not switched business models? The road to tech success is littered with great ideas and wrong decisions.

Founders need a safe place to fail and fail forward. Excitement can rapidly turn to frustration when they discover unforeseen problems or knowledge gaps critical to moving their ideas forward.

Mentors have been there and done that. They’ve made tons of mistakes and learned from them. Mentors typically know what works or doesn’t work in sales, marketing and team building. They can advise on funding strategies and allocation for optimum success. Most importantly, mentors know the ‘rules of the road’ and can explain the etiquette associated with each. Many founders simply aren’t aware the rules exist, and stumble because of it,

Nothing is more fulfilling for a mentor than seeing a young founder move forward and develop their confidence. It has been both extremely rewarding and exciting to work with so many incredibly bright and creative founders and teams. And I highly recommend getting involved, you will learn so much and meet incredible people who are changing the world.

Where should readers go to find out more? Any digital gurus to recommend?

Here’s a list of some resources I highly recommend: