Memphis startup wins $200K to ensure musicians receive royalties

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A local startup company is looking to change music royalties forever, and they recently got a huge boost to their new business.

A Memphis team of three won something they only dreamed of: a $100,000 check that their startup Soundways won in a competition hosted by the famous founder of AOL, Steve Case.

"It was just total bliss," Soundways Chief Technology Officer Connor Reviere said.

The Rise of the Rest Competition travels to several cities each year and is funded by big-name investors, like Jeff Bezos of Amazon, who want to give back to startups.

Soundways beat out eight other startups to win the prize, and that $100,000 prize was unexpectedly doubled by a company called Innova.

"That moment for Memphis music legacy and a company in this type of space that is so Memphis it was an amazing thing," said Soundways CEO Gebre Waddell.

Soundways is a huge undertaking.

"This is the biggest movement for data in music history," Waddell said.

Waddell said $1.4 billion in music royalties are unpaid every year. Their main product helps musicians of all kinds get their deserved royalties.

Waddell showed an example using a local artist Susan Marshall and her new album. The site keeps track of everyone who worked on the music from the bass to the art director.

"If everything goes according to plan, this will be the end of lost credits," Reviere said. "You won't hear the stories anymore of guys working on an album that later goes on to win a Grammy and they're left off and they don't get any recognition for it."

Being a startup company in Memphis can be difficult. Seventy-five percent of venture capital goes to three states, California, New York, and Massachusetts.

Waddell said The Rise of Rest Competition shows there are opportunities all over the country and Memphis has startups worth investing in.

Soundways said calls have been coming in from more possible investors after winning the competition.

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