Warner in Deal to Sign Acts Found on Shazam

BEN SISARIO NY Times 2/19/14

In the good old days of digital music — say, five or six years ago — high-tech talent scouting by record labels meant trawling MySpace for hot new bands. Labels still hunt for acts online, but the pools of data they consult have become much more vast, and access to them highly competitive.

On Wednesday, the Warner Music Group, the company behind Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, will announce a deal with the music app Shazam that will create a label imprint for new artists who are discovered through Shazam.

Shazam, used by more than 88 million people worldwide, identifies songs playing on the radio, on television or at a nightclub. According to the company, it is used about 500 million times each month to identify, or “tag,” an audio signal, which each year leads to more than $300 million in download sales.

The deal would let Warner executives use Shazam’s data to see what songs are catching on and where — potential signs of a breakout hit. Warner could use this data to sign new artists to a special Shazam imprint, and market them with Shazam’s help. Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“There’s so much information that we’ve never had before as an industry, and Shazam is at the forefront of that,” said Rob Wiesenthal, chief operating officer of Warner Music. “When a consumer hears something he or she likes and holds up their phone, that enables us to learn more about the likes and dislikes of fans.”

Rich Riley, Shazam’s chief executive, said that big hits represent “a relatively small percentage” of the music tagged on the app, and that it is often used for songs by unsigned artists — the acts that Warner will be most interested in.

For Shazam, the Warner partnership is also an opportunity to move beyond its “name that tune” function and become more of a conduit for various forms of content. Last November, the company struck a deal with the media-services agency Mindshare to make it easier for advertisers to incorporate Shazam in campaigns.

“We want it to be the place you go for lyrics, the place you go to see video, the place you go to engage around a particular artist,” Mr. Riley said. “This is a big step in that direction.”

For the music industry, data is the new gold. A number of music companies have struck deals recently to help them comb through the noise of social media to see the early flickers of hits. Twitter is working with 300, a new company led by Lyor Cohen, Warner Music’s former head of recorded music, and last month Gracenote and Next Big Sound, two music data specialists, said they would work together to develop a customizable Internet radio app.

But whether all this data can lead to more hits is unclear. Jim Lucchese, the chief executive of the Echo Nest, a music data company that works with Spotify, Sirius XM and others but was not involved with the Warner-Shazam deal, said that the challenge is not so much getting access to information as having the expertise to interpret it.

“The massive amount of data that’s available is incredibly exciting,” Mr. Lucchese said. “The reality is that there is a scarcity of people out there who really know how to make sense of it.”

Advertisements

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: