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Music Business News, October 18, 2017

Universal Music Group (UMG) launched a new network to help tech startups. Also, PledgeMusic sold set.fm a year after its purchase. And Spotify announced a new playlist-pitching feature.


UMG Launching Tech Startup Network


Universal Music Group said it wants to set itself up to nurture the next big music service, according to Mashable.


The company announced it will launch an “accelerator network” to nurture new music startups in the tech space.


Vice president of new digital business at the company explained, “Not only are we looking for the next Spotify or Pandora or consumer music service, but a lot of the startups we interact with are helping in less visible ways.”


Now that the dust has settled around streaming services, which are driving much of the growth in the music business, labels are looking to embrace the technology and use it to their advantage. Plus, now that artists are emerging without the help of labels, major labels may be ready to re-prove their value.


Roy said, “I think that the thing that major labels have always done that is important in the business is provide highly sophisticated, robust, well-developed processes for artists to reach their highest potential … At the end of the day, that’s why artists come to us, because they believe we’re going to help them reach their highest potential.”


The new accelerator network is designed to place Universal in at the beginning of the process with entrepreneurs who want help developing new technologies. The label will also offer expertise and mentorship to founders with music-focused startups.


Justin Hendrix, executive director of NYC Media Lab said that corporate partners can help give music industry entrepreneurs critical support they cannot get elsewhere: “They’re willing to help startups in ways that can be very crucial to them to get their ideas validated, and I think that’s one of the things we’re going to see here with Universal Music Group.”


He added that getting access to assets like music libraries can make a huge difference in the growth of a company.


Roy stated, “We have to be a lot more proactive for conditions to exist out there where entrepreneurs and investors want to do amazing things in the music space. So really that’s where this particular program is focused on… being very proactive that accelerators have the relationship they need so that they’re accepting of the great music ideas that entrepreneurs have.”


UMG already has Axel Springer’s Plug and Play, LeanSquare and NYC Media Lab on board and is looking to round out the program with approximately 10 partners.


PledgeMusic Selling Off Set.fm


PledgeMusic announced it is selling live recordings platform Set.fm to VNUE Inc.


Music Business Worldwide reported the move is happening just over one year after the direct-to-fan service acquired the platform.


Set.fm makes it possible for artists to capture, promote and sell recordings of live performances in real time.


PledgeMusic finished a deal to purchase Set.fm in September 2016 and is going to engage in a new partnership with VNUE now that the live concert and product company is taking it on. As part of the deal, VNUE will have use of PledgeMusic North America’s tools that help artists sell music, merch and live experiences directly to fans.


VNUE and its licensee DiscLive records live concerts and releases products like limited edition CD sets, USB fans and other items after the performance. The entities have worked with artists including Father John Misty, Blondie, Keith Urban, The Pixies, REO Speedwagon, 3 Doors Down, DEVO, Scott Stapp of Creed, Peter Frampton, Seether, Bad Company, Good Charlotte and others.


Set.fm works with thousands of artists and fans in the tens of thousands.


VNUE said it will make improvements to the platform for indie artists and their fans and offer professional features for the artists it produces.


Zach Bair, CEO and Chairman of VNUE said, “Our goal is to take success of Set.fm and further develop it into a truly professional platform that will work for the major artists for whom VNUE produces live recordings, and for up-and-coming indie artists alike …The addition of Set.fm to our suite of product offerings creates a dynamic, scalable new platform for instant live recordings that will be unparalleled in the direct-to-fan market. Our partnership with PledgeMusic as a whole is equally exciting, helping to drive increased opportunities and revenue for all of the artists involved in each of our respective platforms. VNUE looks forward to expanding ways in which fans can engage and immerse themselves in our fully produced, exclusive content by working with PledgeMusic North America, and we couldn’t be more energized to get it all going.”


CEO of PledgeMusic, Dominic Pandiscia added, “We are thrilled that Set.fm is now with VNUE and DiscLive, partners that can truly help capture and drive instant live recordings … We look forward to working with them on building campaigns across the North American market for the range of artists they work with.”


Spotify Launching New Playlist Pitching System for Record Labels


Spotify made a move to formalize the way major and indie labels pitch for spots on high-profile playlists in the “Browse” section of its platform, said the Music Ally blog.


The streaming service will enable a “quota-based system” for applying to global and local playlists. The new feature is a response to frustration within the music industry about Spotify’s tendency to promote its own curated playlists ahead of those from label brands – including Digster, Filtr and Topsify – and independent curators.


This new system will provide a more “transparent” structure for those looking to work their playlists into visible positions and give the majors Universal, Sony and Warner along with indie labels managed via Merlin specific slots to pitch to playlists, which will help them more efficiently build a Spotify audience.


Artists and labels have been frustrated by the short amount of time they have been offered to prep their playlists for the new system, though Spotify has been working to streamline the submission process.


Music Ally also said some label representatives have complained about their playlists falling in Spotify’s search rankings as the new system for pitching is unfolding – for example, showing up lower in searches when listeners search for a genre or mood keyword. Several labels said playlists have been climbing back up in the rankings a few days later, suggesting the issues are related to unintentional kinks in the system that are actively being worked out.

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