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‘A musical pharmaceutical’: Abbey Road Red unveils MediMusic as newest start-up

Abbey Road Red, the tech incubation arm of Abbey Road Studios, has announced MediMusic as the latest start-up to join its programme.

The 18th start-up to join the Abbey Road Red inititative, MediMusic is a medtech company that enables the prescription and provision of music as medicine to ease pain and anxiety. It delivers music chosen using its proprietary algorithms and digital fingerprints, soon to be informed by machine learning, and already proven to ease stress in dementia patients.

Abbey Road Red has been exploring wellness technology and the way it can work with music since 2019. The team’s ‘Red Talk’ on functional music and wellness that year brought medical and music experts together to share expertise, including Red alumnus Broomx, which uses immersive content projection to provide therapy for dementia sufferers and stress reduction for medical professionals.

The pandemic further highlighted the positive impact music can have on mental wellbeing; so much so that when asked if music can be medicine on BBC 6 Music, Red’s innovation manager Karim Fanous confirmed the team’s belief that ‘we are already there’.

Originating from Hull in the UK, MediMusic has grown into an exciting medtech startup ‘operating at the intersection of music and medicine which offers an evidence based and scalable platform’.

Initial NHS clinical trials at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust found the use of MediMusic saw an up to 22% reduction in heart rate in patients with dementia during the pandemic. MediMusic can be used in medical establishments, including hospitals, care homes and dentist surgeries, and it is anticipated that it could help reduce the cost of medication bills to these establishments by up to a quarter, which is the subject of forthcoming cost benefit analysis trials by MediMusic.

Patients provide information including demographics, life history, favourite artists and genres, with other onboarding questions such as state of mind and level of anxiety or pain to MediMusic’s platform. This information, along with a doctor’s health assessment, informs MediMusic’s algorithms to make song choices. They decide which songs will best alleviate symptoms using MediMusic’s proprietary dataset describing the physiological effects of songs, and create a playlist structured to provide relief to the patient. If MediMusic’s platform senses that heart rate isn’t being lowered while listening, a direct reflection of treatment efficacy, it tweaks the playlist appropriately.

Incubation at Abbey Road Red will support MediMusic with a development springboard to explore the effect of sound on physiology, relationships with key music and technology industry stakeholders, and advice from Red’s specialist mentor network. The programme will also help MediMusic refine and launch its next set of features, including new bio-markers alongside heartrate, machine learning to fine-tune its dataset and improve its automated playlist curation, an enhanced set of proprietary data identifiers to describe the medical effects of songs, tackling the new area of pain reduction with music, and more.

Abbey Road Studios managing director, Isabel Garvey, explained the decision to back MediMusic: “We identified music for wellness as an area of considerable importance at the 2019 Abbey Road Red Demo Day and have explored it resolutely since then. It’s incredibly exciting to take this to the next level with Gary and the team at MediMusic and explore music as a form of dispensed treatment, just as the sector is starting to show signs of maturity and genuine possibility. We look forward to helping MediMusic make its vision a reality which could positively impact millions of lives while relieving stress on health services.”

Fanous added: “Studies have long shown a direct correlation between music and anxiety or stress reduction, as well as the potential for pain reduction. But implementing this research into effective dispensation in a medical context remains a big challenge. In MediMusic we believe we’ve found a music tech start-up which can succeed, supported by early traction in clinical trials, and a founder with anticipative vision who started this journey seven years ago. It’s a very special opportunity to play our part at Red.”

Gary Jones, founder of MediMusic, also shared his ambitions for the start-up: “We’re thrilled to have the support of Abbey Road Red and its music tech incubator programme to develop our revolutionary innovation of prescribing music as medicine. MediMusic has managed to digitally fingerprint the DNA of music so we can deliver the right songs as medicine to ease anxiety and stress. You could say it’s a musical pharmaceutical. Our initial clinical trials prove it has a very encouraging future in the treatment of patients. Using our technology, doctors, nurses and care home workers will be able to monitor the effect of the music in a clinical environment and see the benefits for themselves.

“Using MediMusic could also reduce the use of drugs in treating anxiety and pain in patients by up to a quarter, thereby saving money for the NHS. We passionately believe dispensing music as medicine is going to revolutionise the treatment of people in pain and stress, and we’re honoured that Abbey Road Red will help us on this journey.”