The rise of short video apps has fueled people to use many tools to make their videos different by remixing popular songs. Many creators use tricks like speeding up, slowing down or using clap tracks to modify songs. While labels and social media companies have tools to keep a watch on track usage so artists (and labels themselves) can earn money, many of these remixes escape the detection mechanisms.
To solve this problem, Gaurav Sharma — who served as the chief operating officer for India-focused music streaming service JioSaavn for over five years — started Hook in 2021. Sharma joined the company in 2010 when it was Saavn. The company was acquired by Reliance Jio in 2018, and in the same year, it merged Jio Music and Saavn to create JioSaavn.
He told TechCrunch that, after his experience in the music streaming industry, he wanted to create a tool and a content management system to let users create remixes and compensate artists for that.
“We want to use AI to make it really easy for fans to remix and imprint their own creativity on their favorite moment of music. And we are doing all of it as a value proposition to the content owners and labels by acting almost like a content management system,” Sharma said.
“Derivative songs don’t often have copyrights attached to them, so we are building a platform that leans into using AI while having a strong commitment to solving attribution and compensation problems.”
To that end, it is building an app with AI chops to let users create remixes of tracks legally and use them across social media. Users will be able to pick a short snippet of a song (of less than 60 seconds) and give their own spin using Hook’s tool. They will also be able to explore remixes made by other fans.
The company will initially restrict users to export clips created in Hook to its own app and popular social networks. Sharma emphasized that the startup doesn’t aim to let people export MP3 tracks.
Hook is planning to release its app in a private beta next month with a public launch slotted for some time in 2024.
The company has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Steve Cohen’s Point72 Ventures and former Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr.’s Waverley Capital. Other investors including Mark Gillespie’s Three Six Zero and Japan-based entertainment company Avex also participated in the round.
Hook’s leadership team also includes Chief Product Officer Simmi Singh, who has worked on product and growth at JioSaavn Spotify; and Chief Financial Officer Manav Choksi, who has been an advisor to multiple startups for fundraising.
Social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook have been steadily growing their catalog of licensed music that could be used in creating videos. Labels earn money from the consumption and usage of their titles on these platforms. Hook says that its platform will help labels monetize derivative versions as well.
Given the prominence remixes have gained on platforms like TikTok, labels are investing in promoting official remixes and engaging with creators. Sharma believes that influencers and creators can fuel music discovery as they act as “today’s radio stations.”
“We will focus on building our user base for the foreseeable future. Eventually, we can see us becoming a centerpiece for the music creator economy by acting as an agency for creators and an A&R tool for labels,” he said.