Interviews

Meet Mansoor Rahimat Khan: The Maestro Bridging Music And Tech With Beatoven.ai

Meet Mansoor Rahimat Khan: The Maestro Bridging Music And Tech With Beatoven.ai

Mansoor Rahimat Khan seasoned sitar player and music tech entrepreneur with two decades of experience in live music and recording. Notably recognized as a Forbes 30 under 30 Asia awardee in consumer tech, Khan's journey is as impressive as it is inspiring.

Khan has navigated through various tech startups, contributing his expertise in product roles. Over the past decade, he has made significant contributions to the field of audio applications, earning multiple publications and patents in deep learning.

In his most recent role as a product manager, Khan played a pivotal part in a startup's acquisition valued at $600 million. His story is a testament to his passion for music and innovation, shaping the future of both industries.

During his chat with Loudest.in, Mansoor Rahimat Khan discusses his journey as an entrepreneur and shares some interesting insights about Beatoven.ai.Here are edited excerpts:

Q1.Can you share the inspiration behind the creation of beatoven.ai? What motivated you to start this venture?

Essentially, I am a musician originating from a family lineage deeply entrenched in the tradition of sitar players, spanning seven generations of the Gharaana legacy. Personally, I have undergone training under my father's guidance for the past 20 years. Over the years, I have performed on a global scale, showcasing my music on numerous streaming platforms, accruing millions of streams.

However, I also delved into the realm of technology. After completing my undergraduate studies in Electronics and Communication Engineering at NIT, I pursued a Master's degree in Music Technology at the Georgia Tech Center in the United States. Subsequently, I ventured into the startup arena, contributing to several ventures, primarily focusing on product and tech tools, with a significant emphasis on audio technology.

Throughout my career, I have consistently merged my musical and technological skills. Additionally, my co-founder, who shares a similar background—a Master's in Sound Music from Europe and a Bachelor's in Information Technology—joined me in establishing our company. Together, we identified an intriguing problem in the market: the demand for production music libraries among content creators, such as those producing games, videos, and podcasts. The existing approach relies heavily on static music libraries. Recognizing an opportunity, we envisioned a solution where content creators could compose their own soundtracks with ease, using simple prompts. While the concept of generative AI has become commonplace today, our original thesis, conceived in 2021, centered on the need for a tool to simplify music composition. This laid the foundation for beaten.ai.

Q2.What types of users or musicians do you envision benefiting the most from beatoven.ai?

As a company, we have been operational for three years now. Our product has been live, and we are approaching close to a million users. Currently, the largest user category comprises independent filmmakers—individuals creating short films, documentaries, and docuseries primarily for YouTube. These users constitute the majority of our user base. The second significant category includes podcasters and game developers who rely on our product for intro and background music. Additionally, there is a smaller subset of users who utilize our product to curate Lo-Fi playlists on YouTube. In essence, YouTube content creators seeking royalty-free music form the core demographic of our user base.

Q3.Could you elaborate on how Beatoven.ai's platform provides content creators with royalty-free, affordable, and original music? How does the AI technology facilitate this process?

We have one facet of our business dedicated to the supply chain. This involves collaborating with a diverse range of artists, musicians, and producers, encompassing music producers, session musicians, and studio recording artists. Our process entails entering agreements with these individuals, remunerating them accordingly, and conducting comprehensive data acquisition for licensing purposes.

Primarily, we facilitate the transfer of copyright between artists and Beatoven, thereby assuming ownership of all associated data. This serves as the initial step. Subsequently, we utilize this data exclusively to train models capable of generating innovative music compositions. These models cover various aspects of music production, including composition, mastering, and production techniques. All these functionalities are developed in-house using AI technology.

Our technology is integrated into our user interface at beatoven.ai, where users access a web application to utilize our services. Through this interface, users can provide prompts and access royalty-free music seamlessly. This encapsulates the operational framework of our business.

Q4.The recent pre-Series A funding round raised INR 11cr ($1.3M), with participation from several prominent investors. How do you plan to strategically allocate this funding to fuel Beatoven.ai's growth across different aspects of the business?

One of the most significant challenges we encountered while developing beatoven.ai was the exceptionally high expectations placed on the product. Many of our users are global, despite our status as an Indian company. In fact, 96% of our revenue comes from outside of India. Consequently, there's immense pressure to deliver exceptional music and product quality to meet these expectations.

The primary reason for raising this round of funding is to heavily invest in product development. To this end, we're recruiting a couple of PhD individuals from Europe who have recently joined our team. Their focus will be on researching ways to enhance both music and product quality. Additionally, we're expanding our efforts in artist partnerships. While we've already collaborated with 200 artists, our goal is to increase this number to 500 within the next two years. This expansion will not only bring in more artists but also diversify content models.

These two aspects constitute the core of our investment strategy. Additionally, we plan to allocate a small percentage of funds to experiment with different marketing strategies. The aim here is to explore how we can effectively distribute our product to a broader user base.

Q5.Given your expertise in deep learning and audio applications, what are some emerging trends or advancements in technology that excite you the most, and how might they influence the future of music technology?

The way I perceive this situation is that there has been a recent influx of models such as the diffusion model, Transformer, and large language models. Much of this development initially centered around text and images, as evidenced by products like ChatGPT and MIT Journey, which garnered significant attention. However, these innovations failed to make a substantial impact on the music market due to various restrictions concerning copyright and data usage.

Nevertheless, I firmly believe that technology now possesses the potential to revolutionize the music industry. However, I emphasize that any disruption should be conducted thoughtfully, ensuring inclusivity for artists. It should not merely prioritize technology and deep learning but should also consider the interests of artists. Instead of channeling all revenue to AI, efforts should be made to create new revenue streams for artists. Hence, it's crucial to develop business models that prioritize this aspect.

For us, the focus lies more on crafting viable business models rather than solely on technological advancements. While technology has undoubtedly progressed significantly, reaching a point where distinguishing between human-generated and AI-generated music will become increasingly challenging in the next one to two years, the key lies in how we utilize this technology. Using technology to sideline artists is not the correct approach. After all, these models are trained on artists' data, emphasizing the importance of compensating artists fairly.

Thus, envisioning a future where artists, creators, and technology coexist harmoniously is imperative. It's about striking a balance where technology enhances artistic endeavors rather than supplanting them.



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