Kam Lal hasn’t yet gone to a Predators NHL hockey game yet, but the startup founder in town for Nashville’s Project Music Accelerator says he’ll catch one soon.
“Our Innovation Center is not too far from Bridgestone Arena and we’re constantly coming out around 11:00 at night, seeing all the fans going out,” said Lal. “Being here makes me want to go.”
However, this Montrealer isn’t in Nashville to see an NHL hockey game. He’s there to lead his music production startup, called Notetracks, to stardom. After applying to Project Music last year, he was accepted into the three-month program based out of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, in Tennessee’s capital city.
Notetracks is the lone Canuck team in the cohort, with three from Nashville and one each from San Diego, Miami Beach, Chicago and Kiev, Ukraine. The program has some pretty big name sponsors and investors, including Google, the Country Music Association (CMA), Warner Music Nashville, Universal, Sony/ATV and more.
Notetracks is an innovative platform to review, take notes and collaborate with music and audio. Lal says it’s a workflow and productivity tool for music producers and their collaborators, aiming to eliminate the pain point of multiple creators using multiple tools to create a song. It costs US $9.99 to buy, and the team is currently working on its second version.
The idea primarily stems from Lal’s upbringing as a musician, DJ and music producer. He experienced the frustration of producing a track, which would often involve emailing with several different collaborators and the use of Google Docs, EverNote and more. Why couldn’t the track be produced in an all-encompassing solution, where every collaborator could communicate and work in one place?
“A songwriter has to send the track to a producer, so she records her inspiration on an iPhone, writes her notes on a word doc, and then uses multiple tools to accomplish her task. An exchange happens between email, Google docs, Soundcloud and more, so we’re creating one hub where our users can record, communicate and collaborate,” said Lal.
Lal’s story is like many other entrepreneurs. He got into DJing and music producing in his teens and 20’s, but it wasn’t paying the bills. He completed his undergraduate degree in computer engineering, but minored in music “just to keep myself motivated, because music was always the passion.”
A professor showed Lal and other students how to approach an audio wave holistically, but it involved a lot of different instruments: a projector to follow the wave, a CD player to listen to the track and paper to take notes.
“I thought it would be neat to have a platform where you could combine the audio with the waveform. I was already working on music production software at the time and I found that this part was still lacking. It was always something in the back of my mind to try and produce something like this.”
After graduating, Lal hunted for jobs that combined software engineering and music, but the opportunities were barren. There came a point where he felt he had accumulated enough experience in software to go it all alone. Lal still had the musician’s passion and there was still that nagging solution that he wanted to build.
He started his journey with money he had saved over the years and was determined to bootstrap.
“Worst case, it would solve my problem and best case, some other people would be able to use it and appreciate it,” said Lal.
Eventually he started researching various grants and funding he could apply for, and that took him to the accelerator route. There was only one accelerator that Lal felt he truly belonged to, and that was Nashville’s Project Music Accelerator.
“Once I stumbled upon the accelerator and started doing my research, it all came together and I understood that this could be a place where I could be,” Lal told MTLinTech.
Since releasing the first version of NoteTracks and joining the accelerator, Lal says the team has legitimate sales, everyday users and lots of feedback. The founder said one of the things the team is focusing on is ensuring their building a product not just for someone who might use it, but for those who use it intensely.
“We’re learning a lot of different stuff too, financial, legal and product-wise,” Lal said of his time at Project Music. “It’s important to understand that there’s a lot of stuff going on, but to remain focused on the product that you developed for your users.”
Other than keeping busy at the accelerator, Lal told us that he and his wife recently got into the ABC musical drama TV series “Nashville,” which follows the lives of various fictitious country music singers in Nashville. They started watching it before the Lal’s move to Music City, and quickly got hooked.
“For me, I appreciated the authenticity in the music production. As a musician, I recognized the studios they were shooting in, and the equipment they use,” he said.
Like the characters Juliette and Rayna, Lal too hopes his work will prove to be a hit in Nashville.