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Microsoft vet’s new tech startup, SyncFloor, helps creative pros find independent music for projects

Geekwire logo Geekwire 6/30/2020 Kurt Schlosser
a man standing in front of a forest: SyncFloor co-founder and CEO Kirt Debique. (SyncFloor Photo) © Provided by Geekwire SyncFloor co-founder and CEO Kirt Debique. (SyncFloor Photo)

In his 20 years at Microsoft, Kirt Debique honed his tech skills as a Windows Media Platform engineering leader and Office Mobile general manager. After leaving in 2012 to pursue his passion for music, Debique started his own record label.

Over the past few years, his love of independent music and artists has collided with his tech background. Now, Debique is coming out of stealth mode as co-founder and CEO of a startup called SyncFloor.

The platform and commercial marketplace aims to make it easier for creative professionals to find and secure rights to independent music for everything from films to podcasts.

SyncFloor has built a catalog featuring 9,000 titles available for a variety of prices and rights cases. With its marketplace officially opening to creatives and buyers, labels like Sub Pop, Nature Sounds, TuneCore, Create Music Group, and others are on board and providing songs through partner pages. Debique wants to triple the catalog before the end of the year.

The company, which has eight employees, has raised $1.25 million to date. Ascend.vc led a small pre-seed round last August, with participation from Arnold Ventures. SyncFloor was also accepted into Betaworks Audio Camp in New York City and received additional financing from Betaworks this spring.

SyncFloor’s core technology is its natural language understanding. The goal is to appeal to production professionals who want to use creative language to search across genres, moods and other inspirations such as artist names, types of movies or TV shows.

Watch the way search terms are employed in this commercial:

The idea for the startup followed Debique’s leap into starting Brick Lane Records in Seattle eight years ago.

Through his own experience as a touring musician and label founder, Debique watched as the rise of streaming negatively impacted the independent community. And he was learning along the way that the backend of the music industry had a lot of archaic processes.

He wanted to help in a way that went beyond signing artists to a label. In starting SyncFloor, along with co-founder Cestjon McFarland, a longtime intellectual property attorney, the focus was on the pain being felt by production professionals, producers, editors, music supervisors and more.

Debique set out to build a platform that would use the internet to connect buyers and sellers, and modern software and a smart music search engine that would match one creative vision to another. And it would tack on a workflow that could lead people through the rights clearance process without the usual hassles.

Crediting a “golden age of video,” where more people are using the medium to communicate ideas in entertainment, education, brand marketing and all sorts of storytelling, Debique said the time is right for his new company. An explosion of available music has also made the process of discovering it exhausting for those in creative production.

“Professional discovery needs to be highly accurate, because people have expectations and they’re trying to save time,” Debique said, citing features and visual cues such as word clouds that aid in search. “All of that is geared around giving you a way to dig through the ‘crates’ efficiently before you then put something from the crate onto the turntable.”

Dan Peters, Mark Arm posing for a photo: The Sub Pop record label partner page powered by SyncFloor. (SyncFloor screen grab) © Provided by Geekwire The Sub Pop record label partner page powered by SyncFloor. (SyncFloor screen grab)

Debique has written the majority of the code for the front and back end of SyncFloor’s marketplace, while also dealing with CEO duties, sales and the search for funding.

“It’s been a journey. I feel like I’m wearing three or four hats,” he said. “And recently my wife and I had our first kid, so we have a 10-week old. Our household is complete madness — joyous madness nonetheless.”

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