Spoke launches music therapy app for Gen Z and raises $1.5 million led by Ada Ventures – TechCrunch

Apps like Calm and Endel are exploring a new and expanding universe of what is increasingly being called “functional sound”. Calm and others are doing it in the meditation and sleep space, while Endel, which raised $7.5 million, is creating “functional sound” to enhance work or other activities. Now, a new startup is launching what it calls “functional music,” and it’s secured institutional backing to fuel its next phase.

Spoke is a new app that generates music with what it calls “mindfulness benefits”. The app is based on 18 months of R&D with modern music artists and scientific advisors (a clinical trial is planned) and combines music with mindfulness prompts aimed largely at a Gen Z, or group of people. age under 25, who are often put off by more “middle-aged” mindfulness apps and movements.

It has now secured a £1.1m pre-seed investment led by UK firm Ada Ventures and featuring a number of top UK angel investors.

Unlike Endel, which generates its sounds using AI, Spoke employs artists, trained by a team of clinical psychologists, therapists and neuroscientists to produce music to help users reach a state desired mentality which, according to Spoke, has the same impact as therapeutic practices.

“Spoke brings together the seemingly opposing worlds of music culture and mental health,” Spoke founder and co-CEO Ariana Alexander-Sefre said in a statement. “We believe the music industry can play an incredible role in the mental health of listeners and artists, and must fundamentally change. There are many mental health apps available, but there is a generation that is underserved. This is our first step forward – our mission is to show how powerful music can be and how the industry needs to evolve.

Spoke says he currently works with over 25 artists, including Jordy, VIC and Jamilah Barry. As you can see, these performers are often far removed from the rather comfortable world of meditation apps.

Alexander-Sefre says she was inspired to work on the app after meeting young people who had taken their own lives: “I experienced this very closely, the youngest I knew was only 15 years and it naturally has a life-changing impact on their loved ones.

She told me, “My first business was an events company that fused live music with wellness experiences. I noticed that you really only see the same person in the wellness area – normally older middle class women. However, in 2017, my younger brother’s best friend committed suicide. And then the brothers of two friends also committed suicide the following year.

“It took me about a year to really process what happened. Obviously what happened is unacceptable. But I think what I found even more heartbreaking was my brother and his friends they all refuse school therapy they refuse school counseling I was working in the welfare world at the time and I could see that none of these tools that millions of people were using would was culturally relevant to these young people It sent me on a lot of research and I learned that 80% of all suicides in the UK and US are male, and there is a silent epidemic I also found that Calm and Headspace, which I believe democratized the mindfulness space, are widely used by women over 25.

She told me that she had done thousands of hours of research and discovered that “young people are not interested in listening to people like yoga teachers or expert monks”, but they are interested in cultural leaders. , like the musicians: “I found that the musicians were the most influential for almost all the young people I spoke to. It was so ironic that the music industry hadn’t been brought into the wellness space at all. In fact, musicians are some of the worst mentally healthy people around. Labels don’t care about that. That’s what led me to this idea of ​​a new way of doing mindfulness, like a new culture of mindfulness, where you have all this scientifically proven impact and mindfulness, the therapeutic counseling. So that’s what led to Spoke, which bridges the much-needed intersection between the usefulness of today’s mindfulness apps and the entertainment of music apps in this personalized experience.

Check Warner, founding partner of Ada Ventures, added: “Spoke is addressing a critical and completely underserved market – mental health therapy for young men. The daily news of young people, especially young men, struggling with mental health issues is a tragic and constant reminder of the size and importance of the problem that Spoke is tackling. Spoke’s unique product combines music and rap with neuroscience to create an effective meditation product to reduce anxiety and depression.

Alexander-Sefre’s co-founder and co-CEO is Michael Maher, a serial entrepreneur who previously founded app maker Zolmo.

Spoke’s creative team includes lead artist Lemzi and executive producer Daniel Miles. Lemzi is an East London-based rap/hip-hop artist. Miles is an Ivor Novello nominated producer who has previously signed with Sony Music.

Alongside Ada Ventures, other participants in the pre-seed round include Bethnal Green Ventures and angel investors Nikhil Shah, co-founder of Mixcloud; Marla Shapiro, founder of HERmesa; Toby Moore, co-founder of Space Ape Games; Emma Blackburn, CFO of Ascension Ventures; and super angel Ed Zimmerman. Tom Adeyoola, founder of Metail, also invested and is now chairman of Spoke.

About Shirley A. Tamayo

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