On Tuesday, Zuke Music, a platform for connecting music professionals, took home the first-place, $10,000 prize in the Babson WIN Lab-Miami’s pitch competition for its first cohort.
We spoke with founder Arielle Cohen about how she got the idea for the startup and her plans going forward.
What is it?
Zuke Music is a digital platform that allows music professionals to connect with each other. Cohen is calling it a LinkedIn for the music industry. It also enables artists to communicate in real time with their collaborators, share files, and manage projects.
Like LinkedIn, Zuke makes money by offering premium-tiered subscriptions that allow for more features. It also serves as a payment processing platform, for which they charge a fee, and also takes in revenue through promotional deals.
The company has already been accepted into the Florida-based FireSpring Fund and Accelerator, which provides promising startups with $25,000 in seed funding. There are three other employees in addition to Cohen: Someone handling video promotions, and two developers who are friends of hers from her college days.
(The name Zuke comes from a prior startup Cohen was running, called Zuke Box, that sent free merch to people through the mail to help promote artists).
Who’s behind it?
Cohen, 25, grew up in South Florida. She studied information technology at University of Central Florida, but was also heavily involved in UCF’s and Orlando’s music scene. She played guitar and drums, and also worked with hip-hop artists. That eventually led her to Miami, where she realized she would have an easier time building music-industry relationships.
“There was an obvious problem when I was collaborating, that was how it started, with that problem, and then realizing I wasn’t the only one having the same type of problems,” Cohen said.
She’s since connected with many of the city’s music heavyweights, like three-time Latin Grammy producer of the year Sergio George and famed audio engineer David Frangioni.
Cohen says she plans to use the $10,000 to improve Zuke’s technology, as well as promote the service to musicians. She says she’s already partnered with firms who specialize in musician outreach, and plans to continue to work with them. Finally, she wants to be able to run content on the site, and offer promotions like free music videos to artists who sign up.