Founders Program startup Antescofo raises 4M€ in the name of MusicTech

Antescofo, a startup in the Founders Program, just raised 4M€ in seed funding. Investors include two lead Parisian funds — Daphni, OneRagTime — and business angels Idei Nobuyuki (former CEO of Sony, at the helm of the Walkman) and Yann LeCun (Head of Facebook AI Research) amongst others. To garner the support of such an impressive panel, leaders and veterans in their respective industries, Antescofo first proved to be a perfect combination of Music and Artificial Intelligence.

Transforming Music Practice through AI

Designed for classical musicians, Antescofo’s first app — Metronaut — elevates a musician’s everyday practice into a grand performance, turning something possibly-painful into a fun activity.

Raise your hand if you also have childhood memories of struggling with piano or violin 🙋🏻‍

Playing solo vs.
Playing together

The app listens to how and what a musician is playing and, using AI, will adapt in real-time the accompaniment to their performance. Say you’re a violinist and you wish to play a violin piece that is accompanied by an orchestra. You play a bit of violin for the app to hear. Within a split-second, the app will generate the orchestra accompaniment to fit your performance. In other words, if you’re a newbie and perhaps not yet able to play at designated tempo, the app will slow down the accompaniment to match your rhythm.

Mastering an instrument is not for the faint-hearted. For those who are persevering, Antescofo will animate long hours of practice and give access to songs that many musicians would never get to play in an orchestra. (Violin enthusiasts: Czardas is in the Metronaut repertoire, just sayin’.)

Bach to Basics

The Antescofo technology has recently been commercialized through the Metronaut app but it was in fact created 10 years ago by Arshia Cont at IRCAM (Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique/musique), the music research institute affiliated to the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The technology was first born from an artistic collaboration with notorious composer Marco Stroppa and soon spread within highly professional circles of musicians and ensembles worldwide.

The AI-powered technology is in fact able to recognize a musician’s performance and synchronize any media to them in real-time, whether it be an orchestra, a band or a video. Today, Antescofo remains widely used in concerts worldwide and has been listed in the Centre Pompidou’s Music Hall of Fame as a milestone moment in the development of Music Technology.

Antescofo has been an active contributor in performances at prestigious institutions including the Paris Opera (left), La Scala in Milan, the Royal Albert Hall with BBC Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA (right).

Having successfully accomplished the deployment and adoption of the technology in a professional community, Arshia and two team members José Echeveste and Philippe Cuvillier joined forces with serial entrepreneur Laurent Tran Van Lieu to adapt the technology for the greater public.

Uncovering a new niche in MusicTech

Antescofo positions the Metronaut app as a karaoke for classical music, somewhere between good old playback CDs — those however do not adapt to a musician’s rhythm, a certain level of expertise (i.e. hours of solemn practice) is therefore pre-required to fully enjoy their usage — and music AIEd (artificially intelligent education technology), which is a field that Antescofo gets close to but does not enter.

“We do not claim to be visionnaires of how music education should be.”

Their aim is not to assume the music teacher’s position and, on the contrary, work with them to see how technology can make their jobs easier. Their objective is simply to provide a complement to everyday music learning and to make it more fun. Their main ambition is to become every musician’s reflex for practicing a classical instrument.

Classical Music: A Strategy to Scale

Launching Metronaut in classical music has been a strategic choice for classical music is a universal language: Mozart is widely appreciated and venerated everywhere in the world, whereas popular music for example varies much more from one country to another, as illustrated by the top 40 charts across regions.

As a startup, launching Metronaut in classical music makes it easy to scale worldwide. In fact, the app has reached 160k+ downloads across 295 countries, been featured as App of the Day in over 30, and been translated into 7 languages. Good AI, however, doesn’t care about style of music and Metronaut will, of course, not be the last work of Antescofo.

What’s next?

# of students registered in a conservatory or music school in millions

In France, 1 million students are registered in a conservatory or music school, 60 million in the USA and a stellar 140 million in China. These numbers multiply very fast if you include practicing musicians that are not necessarily registered in institutions. Having just closed their first round of funding, Antescofo is already preparing for their next with the sole objective of: growth, starting with an important agenda for China.

Some fun facts: what do you think is the most played song on Metronaut?

Bathing in beauty at the #1 position is Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns:

Followed by #2, John Newton’s Amazing Grace:

At #3, the almighty Queen of the Night Aria by Mozart:

To all musicians and aspiring musicians,

Try out the Metronaut app the next time you play! And to those of you who gave up on an instrument some time ago, this is an invitation for you to pick it back up and have fun :)

A part of Antescofo’s success comes from their team’s exceptional (read, really exceptional) company culture, centred around passion for music and tech. Interested in joining their team? Take a look here.

Looking to have your startup join the ranks of Antescofo? The STATION F Founders Program is currently taking applications until April 1st for entry in July - apply here!