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From executive to innovator: transforming the music scene with AI

Neel Chauhan, TMU (Ryerson University) - Business Management 98'

After more than two decades in the tech industry, Neel Chauhan, Business Management ’98, is embracing his passion for music with the launch of MNDLB5 (pronounced Mind Labs), an AI-driven electronic music artist/company.

Chauhan is no stranger to the music industry. As a former electronic dance music (EDM) DJ who ranked amongst the top 10 in Canada, he performed in front of crowds of thousands and regularly appeared live on Electric Circus, a dance music television program that aired on Citytv and MuchMusic in the late ’90s.

“My specialty was playing at underground music raves,” Chauhan said of his time as a DJ. “There would be buses leaving Union Station, and then you would have 5,000 people coming to listen to underground music in a warehouse.”

Neel Chauhan aka DJ NeelC poses for a photo in 1996.

The evolution from music to corporate success

Despite his bustling nightlife, Chauhan never neglected his studies. By day, he was a diligent business student at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU), where his entrepreneurial spirit was nurtured and celebrated.

“I actually did projects about my own DJ business,” Chauhan recalled. “It’s not typical to be a rave DJ when you’re in college, but at TMU, it was culturally accepted.”

After graduating from TMU, Chauhan took a step back from music to continue pursuing a business education, attending graduate schools in the U.S. and U.K. He then carved out a successful career path, working for multiple tech companies, including Nectar Loyalty, Google and Fiserv, ultimately landing as Chief Product Officer for IRIS Software Group — a global software provider supplying business management solutions.

Legacy and innovation: the journey back to music

Chauhan’s reconnection with music is deeply rooted in family and legacy. His late mother was a classically trained pianist. Before she passed away, Chauhan recalls her encouraging his two sons to always pursue their passion. So, despite taking a break from music for nearly two decades, Chauhan re-entered the industry with his sons as co-founders and DJs of MNDLB5. 

“It means the world to me to pass on my EDM production and DJing skills to my boys and see them energized and excited about helping to transform the industry,” he said.

The inception of MNDLB5 was sparked during Chauhan’s time managing his sons’ hockey team, where he noticed a correlation between music and enhanced performance. This observation prompted him to commission a review of the academic literature on the impact of music on human performance, laying the groundwork for MNDLB5’s AI-driven music production.

Assembling a team that included fellow TMU alumnus Grigori Peregoudov, Business Management ’23, Chauhan spearheaded MNDLB5’s foray into the music industry. Peregoudov, who led the review, reflected on his journey into AI music and said, “Neel shares valuable insights on how to navigate the corporate world and structure a career that is not only financially successful but also meaningful to me.”

MNDLB5’s fusion of AI technology and artistic expression has yielded impressive results, with seven songs released and two million streams across platforms. Their latest release, Toxic (Lab Mix), is a duet featuring Canadian artist Ricki Ayela and a MNDLB5 AI-generated voice.

Neel Chauhan poses with members of the MNDLB5 team at Miami Music Week 2024. From left to right: Rhys Hillier, Business Management ’22, Neel Chauhan and Trevor Bell, Business Management '99. Photographed by: David Steel

Chauhan attributes much of his career success to the skills honed during his DJ days. Today, he is an alumni representative on the TMU Board of Governors, and actively gives back to students at the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM) through mentorship and his involvement in the Dean’s Circle – a select group of alumni, faculty, staff and influential business leaders who champion and support the needs of TRSM students.

“I’ve been mentoring alumni for more than 15 years, helping them get jobs and get into graduate school,” Chauhan said. “I really wanted to give back.”

Looking ahead, Chauhan envisions MNDLB5 reshaping the EDM industry by leveraging social, mobile and AI technologies.

“We’re striving to make the most significant change in recorded music since Thomas Edison introduced the phonograph in 1877,” Chauhan said.

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