Born of Writer's Block, Output Raises $46M to Make Creating Easier for Musicians

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Born of Writer's Block, Output Raises $46M to Make Creating Easier for Musicians
  • L.A.-based Output, a bootstrapped business founded in 2013 to help musicians overcome writer's block, announced its first ever fundraise, of $45 million from Summit Partners.
  • The company serves a range of musicians from hobbyists to professionals, providing them a library of loops and samples that they can then manipulate into unique songs of their own.
  • Immediate plans are to nearly double its staff and expand its product platform, with future goals of leading the evolution of digital music production.

Gregg Lehrman was no stranger to music composition. He had worked under world-famous composers such as Hans Zimmer writing music for film and TV and had produced big projects with BMG music publishing. But after setting out on his own, he found himself suffering from writer's block.

So, he said, "I made a piece of software for myself, as a music-maker — with no intention of starting a company."

Lehrman's tool, however, ultimately became a music-tech company called Output. Based in L.A.'s Chinatown district, its mission is to help people start making music.

Seven years after it was created, Output has agreed to its first ever fundraise: a $45 million minority-stake investment from Summit Partners.

"I think there will be drastic changes to come in music creation," Lehrman said, "and we want to be at the forefront of it."

His investors agree.

"We believe Output has the potential to reinvent the digital music production market," said Andrew Collins, managing director at Summit and lead investor on the deal. Collins will now join Output's board.

"The holy grail in digital music-making is to make it super easy for musicians to find content that they like and then make it sound unique to them, and that's exactly what Output does," Collins told dot.LA.

The list of artists and projects that have used Output is impressive: Kanye West, Coldplay, Justin Bieber and Rihanna among them, as well as the soundtracks to "Game of Thrones," "Stranger Things" and "Black Panther."

The company broke $1 million in its first year with no advertising, Lehrman said: "just a viral video and a good product." That first product line – which included digital instruments and effects – was software geared toward professional musicians, who purchase it for an upfront fee.

Courtesy of Output

In 2018, the company added a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product, called Arcade, which became particularly popular among musical hobbyists and digital-music newcomers. For a $10 monthly subscription, users receive access to thousands of loops and samples created by Output, which they can then manipulate and turn into their own unique tracks.

Most customers today use Arcade in conjunction with a digital audio workspace like Logic, Ableton or ProTools. Songwriters, whether professional or amateur, can set their rhythm and key, pull from Output's library of sonic building blocks and mold them like musical clay. Users can also upload and work with their own digital audio files.

Over time, Output has seen both its user base and its revenue streams shift away from the pros – which Lehrman said is a customer base with a natural limit – and toward hobbyists and digital-production newcomers.

Arcade, its SaaS product, has seen a 300% increase in monthly recurring revenue over the past 12 months. In just two years, it's grown to generate about 60% of Output's income.

"In the world of SaaS, it is incredibly rare to see both exceptional growth and capital efficiency." Collins said. "You don't see SaaS software growing this fast, profitably, fully bootstrapped. There's not a lot of those out there."

ARCADE by Output -

As the popularity of Arcade has grown, Output's user base has shifted to about one-third professional musicians, one-fourth digital-music newcomers, and the rest hobbyists who are "really into making [digital] music."

Collins also likes the market tailwinds that Output is riding — namely, the democratization of music ideation and distribution. Output enables musicians to create new sounds, while platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud allow anyone to publish their tunes with just a few clicks.

The company's technology stack is a combination of digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms written in C++ and some machine learning. "We're going to see that continue to expand," Lehrman said.

Output also has a line of furniture and hardware products designed to help music-makers build out their home studios. It is currently working with Barefoot Sound – which Lehrman called "the Rolls Royce of speakers" – to manufacture a new speaker line.

With its new cash, Output plans to grow its staff, which currently numbers about 60. "We'll grow to north of 100," Lehrman said.

It will also build out its product offering, adding new tools to Arcade like digital instruments and expanding its mobile capabilities.

Output founder Gregg Lehrman has worked under world-famous composers such as Hans Zimmer writing music for film and TV.Courtesy of Output

"We feel strongly we can build a unified ecosystem that once you're in, you're familiar with everything," Lehrman said. "You don't have to learn 100 different applications; it can do 100 different things but you won't feel lost."

Collins pointed to several competitors, including Splice, LANDR, iZotope and Native Instruments, but noted that "nobody else has integrated a very robust curated library of content – sounds, loops, well-organized beats – that musicians can pull from and pull into a workflow engine (the software) and manipulate those sounds to create something that is completely unique."

Lehrman and Collins separately emphasized the Output team's passion for music. 50 of the 60 employees today make music on a daily basis, Lehrman said.

Summit primarily focuses on founder-led bootstrapped companies, which it provides with on-demand services like marketing and engineering.

"Management sets the agenda," Collins said.

For Lehrman, that'll be to further leverage technology: not to create music itself, but to help people create, just like it helped him overcome his own writer's block those years ago.

    "From the first product to the last product," he said, "it's been about helping people be creative."
    🤫 The Secret to Staying Fit at Your Desk: 6 Essential Under-Desk Exercise Machines

    Health experts are sounding the alarm: our sedentary jobs are slowly killing us, yet we can't abandon our desks if we want to keep the lights on. It feels like we're caught between a rock and a hard place. Enter under-desk exercise machines – the overlooked heroes (albeit kind of goofy looking) of the modern workspace. These devices let tech professionals stay active, enhance their health, and increase their productivity, all without stepping away from their screens. Here are 6 fantastic options that will enhance the way you work and workout simultaneously.

    DeskCycle Under Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser

    This bike has nearly ten thousand five-star reviews on amazon. It works with nearly any desk/chair setup. It is quiet, sturdy and allows up to 40 pounds of resistance. If you are looking for an under-desk bike this is a fantastic option.

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    Sunny Health & Fitness Dual Function Under Desk Pedal Exerciser

    This under-desk bike is extremely quiet due to the magnetic resistance making it an ideal option if you work in a shared space. It doesn’t slip, has eight levels of resistance, and the option to work legs and arms. It’s about half the price of the DeskCycle bike making it a solid mid-range option for those looking to increase their daily activity.

    Type: Under-Desk Bike

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    Sunny Health & Fitness Sitting Under Desk Elliptical

    This under-desk elliptical comes in multiple colors if you really want to underscore that you are a quirky individual, in case an under-desk elliptical isn’t enough. This model is a bit heavy (very sturdy), has eight different resistance levels, and has more than nine thousand 5-star reviews.

    Type: Under-Desk Elliptical

    Price: $120 - $230

    DeskCycle Ellipse Leg Exerciser

    This under-desk elliptical is another great option. It is a bit pricey but it’s quiet, well-made and has eight resistance levels. It also syncs with your apple watch or fitbit which is a very large perk for those office-wide “step” challenges. Get ready to win.

    Type: Under-Desk Elliptical

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    Daeyegim Quiet LED Remote Treadmill

    If you have a standing desk and are looking to walk and work this is a fantastic option. This walking-only treadmill allows you to walk between 0.5 to 5 mph (or jog unless you have the stride length of an NBA forward). It is very quiet, which is perfect if you want to use it near others or during a meeting. You can’t change the incline or fold it in half but it is great for simply getting in some extra steps during the work day.

    Type: Under-Desk Treadmill

    Price: $220 - $230

    Sunny Health & Fitness Foldable Manual Treadmill

    This under-desk treadmill isn’t the most premium model but it is affordable and has an impressive array of features. It is a manual treadmill meaning it doesn’t need to be plugged in; it is foldable and offers an incline up to 13%. I personally can’t imagine working and walking up a 13% incline but if that sounds like your cup of tea, then I truly respect the hustle.

    Type: Under-Desk Treadmill

    Price: $150 - $200

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    🤠Musk Picks Texas and 🔥Tinder AI Picks Your Profile Pictures

    🔦 Spotlight

    Tinder is altering dating profile creation with its new AI-powered Photo Selector feature, designed to help users choose their most appealing dating profile pictures. This innovative tool employs facial recognition technology to curate a set of up to 10 photos from the user's device, streamlining the often time-consuming process of profile setup. To use the feature, users simply take a selfie within the Tinder app and grant access to their camera roll. The AI then analyzes the photos based on factors like lighting and composition, drawing from Tinder's research on what makes an effective profile picture.

    The selection process occurs entirely on the user's device, ensuring privacy and data security. Tinder doesn't collect or store any biometric data or photos beyond those chosen for the profile, and the facial recognition data is deleted once the user exits the feature. This new tool addresses a common pain point for users, as Tinder's research shows that young singles typically spend about 25 to 33 minutes selecting a profile picture. By automating this process, Tinder aims to reduce profile creation time and allow users to focus more on making meaningful connections.

    In wholly unrelated news, Elon Musk has announced plans to relocate the headquarters of X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX from California to Texas. SpaceX will move from Hawthorne to Starbase, while X will shift from San Francisco to Austin. Musk cited concerns about aggressive drug users near X's current headquarters and a new California law regarding gender identity notification in schools as reasons for the move. This decision follows Musk's previous relocation of Tesla's headquarters to Texas in 2021.

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    Top LA Accelerators that Entrepreneurs Should Know About

    Los Angeles, has a thriving startup ecosystem with numerous accelerators, incubators, and programs designed to support and nurture new businesses. These programs provide a range of services, including funding, mentorship, workspace, networking opportunities, and strategic guidance to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas and scale their companies.

    Techstars Los Angeles

    Techstars is a global outfit with a chapter in Los Angeles that opened in 2017. It prioritizes local companies but will fund some firms based outside of LA.

    Location: Culver City

    Type of Funding: Pre-seed, early stage

    Focus: Industry Agnostic

    Notable Past Companies: StokedPlastic, Zeno Power


    Grid110 offers no-cost, no-equity programs for entrepreneurs in Los Angeles, including a 12-week Residency accelerator for early-stage startups, an Idea to Launch Bootcamp for pre-launch entrepreneurs, and specialized programs like the PledgeLA Founders Fund and Friends & Family program, all aimed at providing essential skills, resources, and support to help founders develop and grow their businesses.

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    Focus: Industry Agnostic

    Notable Past Companies: Casetify, Flavors From Afar


    Idealab is a renowned startup studio and incubator based in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1996 by entrepreneur Bill Gross, Idealab has a long history of nurturing innovative technology companies, with over 150 startups launched and 45 successful IPOs and acquisitions, including notable successes like Coinbase and Tenor.

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    Plug In South LA

    Plug In South LA is a tech accelerator program focused on supporting and empowering Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. The 12-week intensive program provides early-stage founders with mentorship, workshops, strategic guidance, potential pilot partnerships, grant funding, and networking opportunities to help them scale their businesses and secure investment.

    Location: Los Angeles

    Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed

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    Notable Past Companies: ChargerHelp, Peadbo

    Cedars-Sinai Accelerator

    The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator is a three-month program based in Los Angeles that provides healthcare startups with $100,000 in funding, mentorship from over 300 leading clinicians and executives, and access to Cedars-Sinai's clinical expertise and resources. The program aims to transform healthcare quality, efficiency, and care delivery by helping entrepreneurs bring their innovative technology products to market, offering participants dedicated office space, exposure to a broad network of healthcare entrepreneurs and investors, and the opportunity to pitch their companies at a Demo Day.

    Location: West Hollywood

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    Focus: Healthcare, Device, Life Sciences

    Notable Past Companies: Regard, Hawthorne Effect

    MedTech Innovator

    MedTech Innovator is the world's largest accelerator for medical technology companies, based in Los Angeles, offering a four-month program that provides selected startups with unparalleled access to industry leaders, investors, and resources without taking equity. The accelerator culminates in showcase events and competitions where participating companies can win substantial non-dilutive funding, with the program having a strong track record of helping startups secure FDA approvals and significant follow-on funding.

    Location: Westwood

    Type of Funding: Seed, early stage

    Focus: Health Care, Health Diagnostics, Medical Device

    Notable Past Companies: Zeto, Genetesis


    The KidsX Accelerator in Los Angeles is a 10-week program that supports early-stage digital health companies focused on pediatric care, providing mentorship, resources, and access to a network of children's hospitals to help startups validate product-market fit and scale their solutions. The accelerator uses a reverse pitch model, where participating hospitals identify focus areas and work closely with selected startups to develop and pilot digital health solutions that address specific pediatric needs.

    Location: East Hollywood

    Type of Funding: Pre-seed, seed, early stage

    Focus: Pediatric Health Care Innovation

    Notable Past Companies: Smileyscope, Zocalo Health

    Disney Accelerator

    Disney Accelerator is a startup accelerator that provides early-stage companies in the consumer media, entertainment and technology sectors with mentorship, guidance, and investment from Disney executives. The program, now in its 10th year, aims to foster collaborations and partnerships between innovative technology companies and The Walt Disney Company to help them accelerate their growth and bring new experiences to Disney audiences.

    Location: Burbank

    Type of Funding: Growth stage

    Focus: Technology and entertainment

    Notable Past Companies: Epic Games, BRIT + CO, CAMP

    Techstars Space Accelerator

    Techstars Space Accelerator is a startup accelerator program focused on advancing the next generation of space technology companies. The three-month mentorship-driven program brings together founders from across the globe to work on big ideas in aerospace, including rapid launch services, precision-based imaging, operating systems for complex robotics, in-space servicing, and thermal protection.

    Location: Los Angeles

    Type of Funding: Growth stage

    Focus: Aerospace

    Notable Past Companies: Pixxel, Morpheus Space

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