Highnote launched to the public today, allowing musicians, podcasters and other creators to collaborate on audio files by recording voice notes directly over a track, making timestamped reactions and creating polls to get opinions.
Highnote also announced its pre-seed funding round of $1.7 million.
The new platform aims to be a space for musicians, podcasters and their collaborators to listen to audio files and have conversations all in one place.
It’s typical for creators and their teams to rely on email, text messages, Word docs, Google Drive, Dropbox and other file-sharing services and tools that aren’t optimized for audio content, Highnote co-founder and CEO Jordan Bradley told TechCrunch.
“Might come as a surprise, but the audio world, in large part, uses general-purpose tools to discuss and iterate their files, which is extremely inefficient,” Bradley said. “Just imagine there are dozens of tiny changes to volume, timbre and pronunciation that might need to go into the final edits of your favorite podcast episode and the need to annoyingly flip back and forth between scrubbing in Google Drive’s janky default audio player and manually typing ‘0:23 – lower the echo’ dozens of times over. Highnote changes that.”
While there are many collaboration platforms for artists to upload tracks, there aren’t many platforms that allow them to comment on the track directly.
Spotify’s Soundtrap is arguably the most well-known DAW (digital audio workstation platform) and introduced a collaborative voice note tool in 2020. In August 2022, Soundtrap was testing a tool for people to write comments on different parts of a track. So far, however, Soundtrap hasn’t implemented a feature that allows creators to create polls for listeners to answer.
With Highnote, musicians, podcasters and other creators can upload a music track or audio file to their private Highnote workroom or “Space,” which is like a Slack or Discord channel. The creator invites their team to the Space so they can all collaborate on the audio file, manage different versions, chat with each other and place time-specific written/voice notes on top of the track.
Highnote designed an interactive audio annotation format that combines audio and time-specific cards “in a way not seen before,” Bradley claims. So, as the creator listens to the track, they can see the comments flow over the track as it plays.
There’s also the option to create polls to prompt the listener with questions at a specific time.
Creators can share a private link to anyone they want, whether that be fans/listeners, producers, mixing and mastering engineers, A&R (Artists and Repertoire) teams or music supervisors.
Highnote is free to use, and no download is required. Users can create an account by going to www.highnote.fm. The platform is available on any device.
While there isn’t a paid option yet, the company plans to launch a SaaS subscription model for Highnote at some point. It’s also in the process of developing a “Highnote for Teams” for large production studios and record labels.
Highnote also closed its pre-seed funding round of $1.7 million, with investors Afore Capital, Character Capital, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and Precursor Ventures, along with angels from YouTube, Auth0 and Splice.
“With our recent fundraise, it was about setting up shop and building. We think that moving forward, current and future partners can really help us make waves,” he told us. “We can scale up to essentially create the Slack or iMessage for audio creators and their teams — the go-to communication platform for a world of millions of people for which working with audio is core to their daily business.”
The platform began as a side project for Bradley, who took a break from his band in 2018 to create a tool that gave creators the ability to receive more constructive feedback.
As a musician himself, Bradley is interested to see if other musicians will use Highnote to let fans get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes process. He also recommends Highnote for music students who want to ask their teacher how to play a chord better.
“I’m excited to see how Highnote takes shape in these different environments,” he added.
Co-founders Paulina Vo and Chris Muccioli are also experienced in music tech. Vo has a background as a songwriter and producer, and is also the co-founder of The Digilogue, a music tech community. Muccioli is a musician, creative director and marketer who has led projects at Splice, Spotify, and Kickstarter.
Highnote has been in beta testing for a year, and a few dozen users signed up for Highnote’s waitlist. The feedback was “overwhelmingly positive,” Bradley claimed.
The company provided a quote from Barry Rashawn, a mix engineer who has worked with Drake, JCole, Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd, Juice WRLD, Kodak Black and Meek Mill, among other famous artists.
Rashawn said, “Highnote makes client collaborations easy and seamless. The biggest issue I used to face with clients is not getting a timestamp for the section that they are referring to in their notes. With Highnote, that’s a problem of the past. I will give up a client before giving up Highnote.”