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


Apps like Calm and Endel explore an ever-expanding new universe of what is becoming known as ‘functional sound’. Calm and others do it in the meditation and sleep space, while Endel, who has raised $7.5 million, creates “functional sound” to enhance work or other activities. Now a new startup is launching what it calls “functional music,” and it has gained institutional backing to power 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 the mindfulness cues largely aimed at a generation Z, or 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-based Ada Ventures, and with a number of high profile UK Angel investors.

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

“Spoke brings together the seemingly opposing worlds of music culture and mental health,” said Ariana Alexander-Sefre, Spoke founder and co-CEO, in a statement. “We believe that 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 out there, 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 must evolve.”

Spoke says it is currently working with more than 25 artists, including Jordy, VIC and Jamilah Barry. As you might 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 committed suicide: “I’ve been through this very closely, with the youngest I know, just 15 years old and it understandably a life-changing impact on those closest to them.”

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

“It took me about a year to really metabolize what happened. Obviously what happened is unacceptable. But what I found even more heartbreaking is 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 was culturally relevant to these young people, which led me to a lot of research and I learned that 80% of all suicides in the UK and US are men, and there’s a silent epidemic going on. I also found out that Calm and Headspace, which I believe have democratized the mindfulness space, are largely used by women over the age of 25.”

She told me that she spent thousands of hours researching and found that “young people are not interested in listening to people like yoga teachers or experienced monks,” but that they are interested in cultural leaders, such as musicians: “I found that musicians are the most influential to pretty much every young person I spoke to. It felt so ironic that the music industry hasn’t been brought into the wellness space at all. In fact, musicians are some of the worst mental health people out there. Labels don’t take care of them. That brought me to on this idea of ​​a new way of mindfulness, like a new culture of mindfulness, where you have all this proven scientific impact and mindfulness, the therapeutic guidance, so that’s what led to Spoke, which fills the much-needed intersection between the usefulness of current mindfulness apps and music apps entertainment in this personalized experience.

Check Warner, founder of Ada Ventures, added: “Spoke is targeting a critical and completely underserved market: mental health therapy for young men. The daily news stories of young people, especially young men, who struggle with mental health issues are a tragic and constant reminder of the magnitude and importance of the problem Spoke is tackling. Spoke’s unique product combines music and rap with neuroscience to create a meditation product that is effective in reducing anxiety and depression.”

The co-founder and co-CEO of Alexander-Sefre is Michael Maher, a serial entrepreneur who formerly founded app publisher Zolmo.

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

In addition to 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, has also invested and is now the chairman of Spoke.

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