Gener8tor, Motown Team to Launch Summer Music Accelerators in Detroit
Name a genre of music and there’s probably a Detroiter who innovated it. Punk rock? Death, Iggy Pop, and the MC5. Hip-hop? J Dilla. Techno? The Belleville Three. Blues? John Lee Hooker. Rock? The White Stripes. Gospel? Aretha Franklin. And, of course, where would modern R&B and pop be without Motown?
Detroit has always been fertile ground for musicians, and that’s why Gener8tor says it wanted to launch two music accelerators here in partnership with the Motown Museum, Capital Music Group, and TechTown Detroit. One will be focused on advancing individual artists, and the other will incubate music tech startups. The fact that Motown is celebrating its 60th year in 2019 made the decision that much sweeter, says Abby Taubner, managing director of Gener8tor’s gBeta program.
Integral to bringing the programs to Detroit was the involvement of Paul Riser Jr., director of Detroit Urban Solutions at TechTown. He’s the son of an original Funk Brother who served as a producer and arranger for Motown. Riser’s childhood was steeped in the sounds that went on to dominate the era’s airwaves.
“Due to my dad’s work in the industry for over 50 years, I’ve had the great fortune of conversing with some true musical titans with deep Detroit ties and roots,” Riser says. “Now, there’s a new opportunity to uniquely connect their wisdom with the power of today’s innovation and technology. It’s my hope and goal for the Motown Musicians and Musictech programs to unite our community in a way that only music can—as a magnetic force of inspiration and creativity that has no boundaries.”
The seven-week gBeta musictech program will operate this summer out of TechTown and doesn’t require a fee or percentage of equity from participants. The five companies selected will work with music industry entrepreneurs, experts, investors, influencers, and artists to develop strategies for finding traction with customers, pitching investors, and growing a business.
Applications are being accepted until August 9, and gBeta Detroit director Stella Safari says the incubator is “pretty open” about what it considers music tech, whether it’s related to recording, production, distribution, marketing, touring, licensing, or streaming. (Los Angeles will also host a Gener8tor musictech program this summer, and the organization runs one in Milwaukee as well.) Safari says she regularly holds office hours at TechTown and encourages people with questions about the program to get in touch.
The Motown Musicians Accelerator will select four artists to participate in a 12-week summer program where they’ll receive individual coaching, introductions to industry players, and a $20,000 grant to address needs that will further their careers. Applications are being accepted until July 5 and Safari says more than 100 people have already applied. The program is free to participants thanks to grants funded by the Esther Gordy Edwards Family Foundation, Microsoft, and others.
“Detroit is so well-positioned to make these programs a success,” Safari adds. “We have great resources here.”
Gener8tor is also planning to hold quarterly workshops at TechTown and the Motown Museum that will be open to the public, where industry professionals will candidly discuss topics such as distribution, booking and touring, songwriting, and more.
Both programs are seeking mentors, service providers, sponsors, and others who would like to get involved. If you’re interested, contact [email protected].