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Pittsburgh startup Conduction makes software so anyone can play live music

Founder and engineer Joe Maggiore wants his startup to inject life back into nightlife.

In the club. (Photo by Pexels user Marc Schulte via a Creative Commons license)

This editorial article is a part of Entertainment Tech Month of Technical.ly’s editorial calendar.

As a musician, Joe Maggiore felt live entertainment had gotten a bit stale. He envisioned scenarios where DJs could play right alongside orchestras.

At first, he didn’t imagine he’d be the person to make it happen. But for the past two years as the founder and CEO of Conduction, he’s combining his love of music and his skills as an engineer to bring entertainment and technology together: The startup’s software allows musicians and technologists to perform music side by side. Think DJs turning mixes into live orchestral performances.

In his engineering work, Maggiore said he always starts projects by asking if a piece of technology is needed. (He’s studied bioengineering and is working on an advanced degree at University of Pittsburgh.) When it comes to Conduction’s software, the goal is to inject life into music spaces, while inspiring others to participate.

“It’s a dire need in nightlife entertainment,” he told Technical.ly.

With the software in hand, you can be a music student, a non-musician or even a person who doesn’t know how to read sheet music, and the software allows you to participate.

“The way that it works is that a producer can drag and drop stems of music into a timeline and it will be sent out to musicians as sheet music,” the founder said. Stems are audio files that break down a musical track into individual parts. “So in the performances, a student that doesn’t know sheet music can be able to compose an entire score, and have it performed by their high school.”

Joe Maggiore holds mic and speaks in front of TV screen and brown background

Conduction founder Joe Maggiore speaks during an XchangeInnovation Week 2023 event. (Technical.ly photo)

While Maggiore is a New Jersey native, he made the Steel City his company’s HQ because he believes Pittsburgh would welcome an arts and technology startup. And while the two aren’t always easy to merge, he said, the intersection of the arts and tech stems from a creative vision. Since 2021, the Pittsburgh Innovation District-based company has amassed a 10-person team that includes artists, designers, technologists and musicians.

“We’re really lucky that we have kind of this interdisciplinary team that understands the customer really well so that the thing that we’re building, we’re really sure, is something that people will enjoy and have fun using,” Maggiore said.

So far, the software has been used in a couple of performances, including one hosted in April with the Innovation District. And on Aug. 19, there are plans for a show at Munhall’s THIS IS RED space where 40 musicians will perform with five DJs. (If you’re a DJ, or producer or arranger across who’s interested in getting involved, reach out to Maggiore.)

Next fall, he said, the company is collaborating with the Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship to have students use Conduction to create compositions.

“I think the technology that we aim to build,” Maggiore said, “that we have found is so highly sought after, is a technology that inspires us all, and it’s a technology that enables an art form that is really novel and interesting and captivating for an audience, as well as really engaging for the artists using it.”

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Series: Entertainment Tech Month 2023

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