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Virginia Beach natives working to predict chart-topping music with startup

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Posted at 10:39 AM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-05 12:18:58-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - A local startup is working to change how the world listens to music.

The team is made up of musicians, engineers and neuroscientists investigating how music effects the brain.

So, why do certain songs take hold in our brains? What makes them hit emotionally?

If an artist is lucky enough, their track resonates with enough people to climb the charts. That's what the folks at Secret Chord Laboratories are working to find out.

The startup has really taken off in the last couple years, and News 3's Anthony Sabella sat down with two of the faces behind it: Doctor Scott Miles and Brian Owens who are both from Virginia Beach! Both are also musicians, and Dr. Miles is also a neuroscientist.

Right now, they're studying the impact music can have on the brain and how it leads to the release of the pleasure chemical, dopamine.

Their first product, Dopamine Optimizing Production Resource or 'dopr' for short. It looks at all the different parts of a song, including tone, melody, voice and instruments.

Doing this, the lab can predict how likely a track is to connect with a lot of people and, in turn, find success.

"What we do is we run it through the algorithm, and we give it a full detail or dopr score report on various tracks comparing them or giving an absolute number and report for a single track coming out." Dr. Miles told News 3. "And we’ve been going back-and-forth, and the feedback so far is very positive."

Owens says dopr can adjust just as listeners' tastes do.

"The audience hears new music every day, and it changes their expectations of what they might like the next day. Dopr is always taking that data and evolving right along with the audience," he said.

The guys at Secret Chord Laboratories say they're already partnering with record labels to put this system to use.

The theory is that with tens of thousands of songs being put onto Spotify each day, this process could drastically reduce the time record labels spend researching tracks and deciding which to put out.

The startup has been chosen for several accelerator programs, including a Google accelerator and most recently, the local 757 Accelerate.

Secret Chord Labs is also gaining international attention.

It was named 2020 Startup Of The Year by Wallifornia, a tech hub out of Belgium!