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Music by VICE

Canadian Startups Are Changing the Way We Experience Music

A look at new ways to create and share your favourite sounds.

by Lizzy Sermol
Mar 21 2014, 8:52pm

As its been said before, we're all a bit tired of hearing how amazing Berlin is. From the music, the parties and now the tech startup scene—we get it. But now, Canada's got their own crop of artists and entrepreneurs who have been putting their heads together to change the way we all create, curate and consume our music. Here are some of the Canadian startups you should be paying attention to, so you have something to talk about when you find yourself trying to impress your Berlin brethren at 4 AM. 

Good news guys, the bass revolution is finally here. And you have the Toronto-based startup SubPac to thank for that. When pioneers like Richie Hawtin, Kode9 and Dubfire claim that your product is a game changer, and Flying Lotus goes on record saying, "this thing is dope", you know you're probably on to something big. The team behind the SubPac S1, the first portable tactile bass technology, is continuing to improve their product offerings with the wearable SubPac M1. SubPac brings tactile elements to the experience of sound by allowing users to experience bass the way it would feel on proper subwoofers, by providing a frequency response range of 5hz-130hz—all without disturbing the neighbours. But it's not just for the creators of music; the SubPac has applications in gaming, films and car audio systems, making this company one to watch. Launched by the brains behind the music collective Studiofeed, who also brought the Sound in Motion Festival to Toronto for the past two years, the SubPac team continues to push the boundaries of how we experience and create music. 

In 2010, two veteran DJs Alan Smithson and Pablo Martin teamed up to found SmithsonMartin Inc., with the intention of launching the world's first transparent touch-screen DJ interface, EmulatorELITE. Thanks to that success, they later developed a software offering, the EmulatorPRO. This new software allows you to transform your touchscreen device into a powerful MIDI-controller and DJ system. Both work to eliminate the need for clunky hardware and to enhance the customizability and easy use of music production. So far they are the only company offering touch-screen software that can transform MIDI software to be controlled with a touch interface. 

Tunezy has been getting a lot of love from the big players in the technology startup scene, getting acquired by the American electronic music dance promoter SFX Entertainment. Founder Derrick Fung wanted to find a way to get more money in musicians' pockets, without ripping anyone off in the meantime. Tunezy was the solution; a platform that lets users connect with artists to request or engage in experiences, such as pre-show dinners or VIP passes backstage. Users generate requests on the site, and the artists get to decide which of the requests they're down to participate in. Music sales are notoriously slow, and revenue-generating avenues for musicians are slowly dwindling. Tunezy recognized the opportunity to allow fans to pay for experiences, resulting in more money for artists from a previously under-utilized source. 

Rithm is a new music messaging app that lets users send music 'messages', by connecting to music streaming platforms like Soundcloud, Spotify and Rdio. It provides a new way to interact, share moments and musical tastes. Rithm also allows its users to sync songs with videos, draw over images with the twist being that the drawing plays out to the song when the receiver views it. Get ready to have a completely new obsession.

Launching this spring, Receiver's goal is to make it as simple as possible for music lovers to build a library of streamed content from their favorite streaming services on one platform. Receiver wants to let you have all of your favorite tracks in one place, allowing its users to pull their favorite tracks from sites like Soundcloud, YouTube or Spotify and build a content library that you can access and stream over multiple devices. Gone are the days of having a thousand tabs open as you attempt to jump from a Soundcloud set to a live performance recording on YouTube. David King, founder of Receiver, explained that while "Its easier than ever to find the content you are looking for online through a legitimate source, it's harder than ever to build a comprehensive library of content you love." Well, not any more. 

Indiloop definitely caters towards social music lovers over music curators or artists. The Vancouver-based startup is offering a cloud-based platform that lets users create, mix and match songs to create their own piece. Indiloop allows users to choose between various stems within their track of choice—for example, the bass line, vocals, or specific instruments—and mix them with stems from other tracks. The result is quite often hilarious, but also surprisingly good. The site is primarily social, encouraging users to share their pieces, playlists and mixes within the site, and then, of course, over social media. 

You can follow Lizzy on Twitter: @lizzysermol