Tech start-up of the week:

2 Sep 2012

Stephen Brett and Maret Eiland, members of the start-up team behind

Our tech start-up of the week is, a new website to connect people in the music industry. The idea is to help musicians, especially emerging artists, to network, pitch songs to artists and producers and get industry feedback. In all over 20 people have been involved in getting Emeraz up and running.

The website itself first hit the online scene back on 2010, but the new version of is launching on 7 September next. And it will have a type of Facebook-esque feel to it, according to one of the site’s founders Stephen Brett.

Having worked as a producer and sound engineer at FastLane recording studio in Dublin for seven years, Brett said that the idea for the platform first came about back in 2010.

From speaking to musicians and songwriters, he said that people in the industry were facing similar issues in the online space – having to work off various sites, be it to network with fans and friends, to share music or to contact record labels.

“The idea was to create a platform to connect people in music and give musicians a complete set of tools to simplify the way they work and play online,” said Brett.

He then set out to form a team to build up the Emeraz community, including the songwriters and producers Tim Hawes and Obi Mhondera. The duo have written and produced songs for the likes of the Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera and the Sugababes.

Obi Mhondera and Tim Hawes

Songwriters and producers Obi Mhondera and Tim Hawes, who are involved in

“We launched the first version of in June 2010 on a tiny budget but we knew by the response that we were going in the right direction, ” said Brett.  Since then the team behind Emeraz has also been holding various songwriting events.

So how is the new platform aiming to be a game-changer for musicians?

“Our whole concept is to connect people in music,” said Brett, before adding that the aim of the site is also to give emerging artists in particular direct access to people in the music business.  

“Musicians can connect with their fans and musician friends, sell and stream their music, collaborate and measure their success with real-time analytics.”

 He said that Emeraz has also teamed up with some top people in the music business so that members of the site will be able to get help and feedback from music industry professionals such as songwriters, producers, A&R [artists and repertoire] scouts, music managers and publishing companies.

“It’s pretty much everything emerging artist would need, all in one place,” said Brett.

View of some of the interactive features on Emeraz

For songwriters, he said that there will be a type of ‘Who is Looking’ list so that people can get up-to-the-minute information on famous and newly signed artists who are currently looking for songs.

“They can also pitch songs to them through Emeraz and get spoken audio reviews or written reviews from songwriters and producers,” said Brett.

Evolution of Emeraz

As to the site’s evolution since its genesis two years ago, he said he collaborated with team member Maret Eiland here in Ireland, with the pair spending nine months designing 787 webpages.

“Over the last three months we worked closely with a development team in India who did an amazing job to put it all together. They were faced with massive technical challenges but the result is a stunningly fast website that makes it easy for our members,” said Brett.

Having built initially on a small budget, he said that the team has since managed to find private investors to help build the new

“We still need more funding to take the platform to the world and have started talks with more private investors and venture capitalists.”

Some of the challenges along the way, according to Brett, have been centered around getting the design and functionality of the site right to make it easy for the end user.  Another challenge, he said, was getting the business model right.

Extra services

Most of the services on Emeraz will be free for users, but there will be a fee for some professional services.

“We are not charging musicians for things that our competitors charge for because we would not like to pay for those things ourselves. Where we do charge is for professional services that give members something they can’t get anywhere else,” explained Brett.

Such servicers that will have an additional charge will include feedback from record labels, as well as the Pitch My Song service.

And, finally, Brett’s advice for fell self-starters out there is to be flexible.

“Try to evaluate from your mistakes and do your best to make it better the next time. Also, spend time working on your business model and test it out small before you go all guns blazing.”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic