First-of-its-Kind Program by Global Music Entertainment Company to Promote the Development of Innovative Music-Based Start-Ups

Initial Accelerators Include Axel Springer’s Plug and Play, LeanSquare and NYC Media Lab

SANTA MONICA, October 16, 2017 — Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind accelerator engagement network by a major music entertainment company aimed at promoting the development of innovative music-based start-ups around the world.

To support the key contributions that accelerator programs provide to the global start-up ecosystem, UMG will work closely with key entrepreneurial programs based in countries around the world to assist in the evaluation and development of music-based start-ups. UMG will contribute music industry expertise during the application process and mentor accepted digital music companies, while accelerators will guide these new companies in developing, launching and raising funding for innovative new products.

UMG anticipates working with as many as ten programs in the first year of launching the accelerator network. The first accelerators to join the network include Axel Springer’s Plug and Play, a media-focused accelerator based in Berlin; LeanSquare, a music technology accelerator launched by the Liege, Belgium-based investment firm; and NYC MediaLab, which runs programs for student and faculty entrepreneurs at New York-area universities who are interested in launching digital media start-ups.

In making the announcement, Michael Nash, UMG’s Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy, said, “UMG is launching the Accelerator Network to build on the company’s stellar track-record of supporting entrepreneurs around the world and licensing more than 400 digital services globally. By developing a robust network of accelerators, UMG will play a more central role in helping to support the next generation of entrepreneurs who are already hard at work to bring innovative ideas to market that will create exciting new experiences for artists and fans everywhere.”

Tuhin Roy, UMG’s Vice President of New Digital Business, said, “UMG has the potential to serve as a strategic bridge between the creative minds working in the epicenter of the entertainment industry and the immensely innovative start-up communities in entrepreneurial centers around the world. From this vantage point, UMG is uniquely positioned to help foster the next wave of innovative digital music start-ups, while also learning from these amazing entrepreneurs about new ways to apply digital technologies in our own businesses to benefit artists and labels.”

Axel Springer Plug and Play

Launched in 2013, the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator is an early-stage startup accelerator based in Berlin. It is a joint venture between Axel Springer SE and the Plug and Play Tech Center from Silicon Valley. Three times a year, Axel Springer Plug and Play runs a 100-day program to provide startups with coaching, workshops, networking, 25,000 euros in funding and office space. The program ends with a Demo Day, where startups pitch in front of an elite audience of local and international venture capital firms for additional seed and Series A funding. Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator takes a 5 percent stake in the companies in return for its support.

Joerg Rheinboldt, Managing Director ASPnP, said, “With our partner The Venue Berlin, there already exists a hub for artists, entrepreneurs and makers from the music industry in our local ecosystem. We are delighted to build on that with our relationship with UMG, which will enable us to better accelerate digital music-related startups.”


LeanSquare is a Belgian-based VC investing in start-ups that present real growth potential. The company offers the best tools for start-ups to bring them to a mature stage and help them set up the best investment proposal. LeanSquare also hosts and organizes each year different thematic acceleration programs on MusicTech, e-Health, and e-Logistics, among others.

José Zurstrassen, LeanSquare’s chairman, said, “We are more than happy to join UMG’s Accelerator Network as a strategic player. Indeed, in our different programs, we want our startups to meet the best industry experts and VCs to enable them to validate their hypothesis, to find new customers or partners, to go quickly internationally and to raise funds. Building bridges between key industry actors and the creative ecosystem is key for us, and we are looking forward to this collaboration.”

NYC MediaLab

Now in its seventh year, NYC Media Lab is a public-private partnership seeded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and a consortium of participating universities including Columbia, NYU, The New School, CUNY, IESE, and the School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute. By building engagements between institutions of higher education and the digital media and communications industry, NYC Media Lab fosters innovation, talent development and ultimately job growth and wealth creation in New York City.

“We’re excited to connect Universal Music Group to entrepreneurs across New York City’s universities that want to advance concepts at the intersection of emerging media technology and music,” said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director, NYC Media Lab. “Mentors from UMG will no doubt help to refine fresh ideas from the campuses, and we look forward to seeing the result.

About Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company. Find out more at: