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What You Need To Know About BandLab, The Singaporean Startup Behind That Rolling Stone Deal

As you’ve probably known by now, local startup BandLab is now a partner of American pop-culture magazine Rolling Stone, acquiring a 49% stake of the publication.

They’ve also been on the headlines of every major international publication ever since news broke of the deal, which was sealed on Sunday night (Singapore time).

But even though much was mentioned about the deal with Rolling Stone, descriptions of the startup itself have so far been kept to a bare minimum.

So here’s a crash course on all things BandLab and its founders.

What Is BandLab?

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

They are a team of people who pride themselves as being musicians and music lovers just like everyone else.

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BandLab

BandLab is essentially an easy-to-use, all-in-one, social music creation platform, that is designed to be used by anyone – whether you are an aspiring musician (in your dreams) or someone pursuing music seriously.

The application was born out of a frustration that, even though technology has raised the quality of the music-making process, it has made it more fragmented, where ideas are easily lost when the musician should actually be inspired.

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BandLab on Apple Watch

The application is developed to be a seamless solution that you can use both on your smartphone, computer, and even wearables, so that you can work on your music anywhere and anytime.

Beyond that, it is also a social platform where you can interact with other like-minded musicians, and get feedback for your works while getting inspired off others through the chat function.

The Founders Of Bandlab

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Kuok Meng Ru, Image Credits: Bloomberg

Kuok Meng Ru, the CEO of BandLab, is perhaps the one who finds himself constantly thrust into the spotlight every time his startup is mentioned in the media –  but mainly because of his father.

Basically, his father is Mr Kuok Khoon Hong, the founder of the world’s largest palm oil business, Wilmar International. But we’re going to leave it at that because we are talking about BandLab today.

A Singaporean permanent resident, Kuok Meng Ru is Mathematics graduate from Cambridge University with a deep passion for all things music, and developed a love for Eric Clapton, BB King, and the blues guitar as a (rather sophisticated) kid.

While running Swee Lee after acquiring it, he came to know his co-founder, Steve Skillings, as Swee Lee was representing Steve’s product called JamHub.

Steve Skillings, Image Credits: Jamhub
Steve Skillings, Image Credits: Jamhub

In an interview with Spiffy, Meng Ru shared that he and Steve then started throwing around with the idea of creating a Cloud Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), where musicians can easily create their music while “breaking down those technological, creative and geographical barriers between musicians and making it easier to collaborate together.”

So they assembled a team, took about 9 months to develop their new product, before finally launching BandLab in November 2015, and so far have achieved steady growth, with six figure download range.

Rolling Stone Was Not The First

Actually, Rolling Stone is the third company that BandLab has invested in… this year.

While the deal with Rolling Stone is generally viewed as a partnership rather than an outright acquisition because of their 49% stake, BandLab has actually acquired two music related companies in 2016.

Bandlab x Composr
BandLab x Composr

The first was Composr, an iOS app that has its roots in Europe, and allows users to record audio and make music on-the-go.

In July this year, as part of the acquisition of the company, Composr founder Nick den Engelsman joined the BandLab team to integrate his product into the larger BandLab ecosystem, and even migrated his app’s users over.

With Composr, BandLab brought in a fellow music making app into their team, to expand their feature set, and any future acquisitions that anyone was expecting would also be something similar…right?

Not really, as BandLab’s next acquisition earlier this month, is not another music app, but designers and makers of musical instrument accessories, MONO.

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BandLab x MONO

Like how Meng Ru found his co-founder through Swee Lee, MONO was too brought together the same way, as their products were distributed by the music store.

Based in San Francisco, MONO produces bags, cases and sleeves for musicians to keep their beloved instruments safe and protected. Not forgetting to mention that Meng Ru is actually also a huge fan of their products, personally owning their bags and other accessories.

Stating that “BandLab is much more than just a social creation platform; and MONO much more than a luggage company”, the deal wasn’t as straightforward as the one with Composr, with BandLab not yet revealing how the MONO portfolio will play in the larger ecosystem.

One thing is for sure though, they are “looking at new and better ways for musicians to record their music—and to bring that music to the stage.”

They Are Microsoft’s Top Startup Partner

Microsoft award for Bandlab
Microsoft award for BandLab

Perhaps the icing on the cake came just last week, as BandLab got some massive recognition for their work.

Describing it as a big milestone for the team, BandLab was awarded the Microsoft Start-up Partner of the Year Award on 21st September.

The award is given to early-stage software companies that demonstrate leadership in the areas of innovation, market potential, media and analyst attention, and customer adoption.

As a startup who is just two months shy of being a year old, receiving this accolade is definitely a huge boost, and it looks like their passion of music and  community that is brought together through the use technology is paying off.

So you want to indulge on your musical side, and engage with people like yourself somewhere in the world? Check out https://www.bandlab.com/ and start creating your own signature sound.

 

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