How Audoo’s ultra-accurate new audio meter will revolutionise the music industry
- Audoo’s technology will track billions of songs as they are played in real-time in public performance areas
- Who’s Who of backers includes Björn Ulvaeus from ABBA and Spice Girls’ creator Chris Herbert
- Working in partnership with Performing Right Organisations around the world
- Power to harness Big Data to revolutionise royalty distributions, music charts and beyond
- New ability to find the trending superstars of tomorrow
- £5.2m raised in ten weeks during COVID-19 lockdown
In Audoo HQ at TIleyard London, the excitement is tangible. After two years of preparation, the first real-world test results of the company’s cutting-edge audio meter are in. The data is way beyond what anyone dared to imagine: Audoo’s product is accurate to an unparalleled level, even in sub-optimal, noisy conditions. “Typically with music-recognition technology, 70-80% accuracy is pretty good,” says Audoo founder and CEO Ryan Edwards, a former musician turned senior digital executive. “But we’re in the high 90s – even in the noisiest environments.”
The implications for the global music industry could be significant, as we’ll soon see.
Those stellar test results top a massive 12 months for Audoo. In June 2020 the company won a prestigious MIDEM Lab Award – the equivalent of a Grammy for music and technology start-ups. Next, it embarked on an ambitious £3.5m Series-A fundraising round but outperformed expectations by securing £5.2m in just ten weeks, which was led by a British private family office, EdInvest. The other notable investor was none other than ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus – a man with a serious reputation for predicting a big hit. However, this Swedish musician is not the only member of music royalty to be backing Audoo. Chris Herbert, the creator of the Spice Girls, is a non-executive director. And other big-hitters on the Audoo board include Rick Riccobono, a former vice-president at Broadcast Music International, and Alexi Cory-Smith, former president of repertoire and marketing at BMG.
Björn and fellow backers have not only been won over by Audoo’s cutting-edge, high-accuracy technology, but also by its mission to give artists and publishers what’s rightfully theirs. Currently, that doesn’t happen. In fact, each year the music industry loses $2.7 billion in revenue because venues such as cafés, bars, gyms and shops stream music illegally. Audoo’s audio meter has the power to help, recoup and accurately redistribute all that revenue by recognising and logging any song played in any venue.
And vitally, Performing Right Organisations (PROs) are keen to partner with Audoo to make audio-meter installation a condition of a venue’s license to play music. “We’re talking to PROs in every corner of the world,” says Ryan. He goes on to explain the ethos behind his company – that’s winning hearts and minds across the music industry: “It doesn’t matter who you are – whether you’re Sir Elton John or a local singer-songwriter, we deliver accuracy to ensure artists are paid correctly. To us, that’s everything.”
However, in reality, that’s just the start, because Audoo’s potential goes far beyond cash recovery and distribution. Once its audio meters are in place, the company will harvest vast amounts of data. Head of Creative Community, Jessica O’Brien says: “When our technology is in place in the c. 400,000 UK venues, it will log around 80 million plays in every 12 hours. We’ll know – with certainty and in detail – what people are listening to. We will collect the biggest set of public performance data ever created, which in turn will give us the power to revolutionise beyond royalty distributions for labels, publishers, and independent artists.”
Jessica continues: “When our advisory board were showed the results of our real-world tests, Rick Riccobono, who is a global authority for publishing and rights in the music industry, said: ‘You’ve just changed everything.’ We could show them hour by hour, minute by minute, what was being played. We could tell them what gyms and restaurants were playing on the radio and what they were playing through Spotify. We could see exactly what Spotify playlists were being used and whether they were being played in order or on shuffle. With all that data we’ll soon be able to identify the most-listened to song each day, each week and each year. The impact will be mind bending.”
Audoo’s technology has another by-product, too: trend-spotting. Ryan says: “Everyone’s looking for the next big artist. Who’s the next Ed Sheeran? Where is the next Dua Lipa being played? The data we collect will show us what people are listening to in Birmingham, Brisbane, Burbank…everywhere. We’ll see who’s getting high numbers of plays by city and by region.”
With proven accuracy, the desire to be a force for good in the music industry, and ability to harvest and harness Big Data, it’s easy to see why Audoo is attracting so much attention and so many impressive backers. Indeed, in April and June 2020, two separate companies approached Ryan to buy the business. “One went to a formal offer stage,” says the CEO. “It would have been life-changing if we’d accepted – I would never have had to work again. But we declined the offers because we passionately love what we’re doing and we’re having the time of our lives. So, why stop now? This is the start of a hugely exciting journey.”