Apple‘s recent acquisition of classical music streaming app Primephonic has highlighted a music business trend that’s impossible to ignore.
Niche music services, whether localized, genre specific, or thematic, are filling gaps in the music streaming landscape that are not served by the main players like Spotify or Apple Music.
The top tier services all offer arguably similar user interfaces, catalogs, and subscription fees, but because music listeners’ tastes and requirements don’t necessarily conform to the parameters on offer by the biggest platforms, niche services are proliferating as a result.
Classical music is a great example of this, and Apple Music’s plan to launch a dedicated classical app combining Primephonic’s UI with more additional features clearly seeks to engage a growing classical music fanbase.
Audiophiles are another niche group of superfans only recently addressed by the likes of Apple Music and Amazon with their respective lossless and HD announcements in May, and Spotify, which revealed Spotify HiFi in February this year.
Meanwhile, Neil Young has been engaging (and monetizing) his fanbase directly with his high-fidelity Archive service since 2017, while France-born Qobuz raised €10 million (approximately $10.92m) in September 2020 to grow its Hi-Res dedicated music service, which launched in 2008.
One of the companies empowering a new generation of laser-focused music apps is Australia-born B2B music technology and licensing specialist Tuned Global, which also has a presence in the US and UK.
Led by MD Con Raso, Tuned Global services range from the basic delivery of licensed music from 100+ record labels and aggregators, all the way through to creating a full music streaming app with customized elements.
The company has previously partnered with the likes of Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Pizza Hut, Warner Music Group, Samsung, Vodafone, and UFC (for its UFC Ultimate Sounds app).
In addition to niche streaming services, Tuned Global is also involved in “alternative” digital platforms across gaming, social media and fitness, which are becoming an increasingly important source of revenue for record labels.
Knowing the vast array of niche and innovative music streaming apps that Tuned Global has partnered with, MBW asked the company to send us a long list – so that we could pick out six of the most forward-thinking apps and make sure they’re on our readers’ radar…
The global explosion of Afrobeats over the past few years has thrown a spotlight on artists and executives on the African continent. Tech companies based there, including music streaming services, have equally been growing in reach and influence.
Nigeria-based uDux, for example, now has deals in place with all three majors, while Kenya-based Mdundo, listed on the Danish stock exchange in late 2020.
Boomplay, meanwhile, recently struck an expanded deal with Universal Music Group to extend the licensing of UMG’s global music catalog from 7 to 47 countries across the African continent.
Deedo, founded by CEO & Founder Awa Girard, is another Pan-African music streaming service available in Africa and parts of Europe with a catalog of over 14 million tracks.
Through the company’s social project, ‘One song, One soul’, a percentage of subscriptions are donated to local NGOs.
The platform’s partners include education-focused Janghi Onlus in Senegal, Dakar-headquartered Speak Up Africa, a non-profit with a focus on child health; and Senegal-based Tostan, which supports rural communities.
The Deedo music streaming app, which was built using Tuned Global’s white label music streaming app, offers features such as hundreds of music playlists, personalised playlists, offline capabilities and live concerts.
The app also features a number of bespoke elements like custom NGO pages.
Fantasy record label app FanLabel isn’t a music streaming app per se, but it does offer access to millions of tracks from labels including Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.
Founded by CEO Jeff Sloan, FanLabel also counts all three majors as stakeholders.
The goal of the game is for players to pick the songs and artists they think will rise on the charts, and then promote the songs and artists they’ve signed to their virtual label.
Players earn virtual royalties based on song and artist performance and promotional activity and FanLabel also monetizes those virtual Royalties in the FanLabel Marketplace. There, users can combine Royalties with real money to buy artist merchandise, event tickets and more.
Tuned Global, which handled FanLabel’s migration from its previous backend technology provider, manages ingestion and content delivery from the majors and indie labels for the app.
It also reports stream usage on a monthly basis to record labels, publishers, MLC and PROs on FanLabel’s behalf.
UFC ULTIMATE SOUND
UFC Ultimate Sound is an entertainment streaming app launched specifically for super-fans of mixed martial arts brand UFC.
Dubbed “the first-ever music streaming and media app for UFC fans, which provides exclusive access to UFC athletes through the lens of music”. .
The app is free during a 30-day trial and then $5.99-per-month for a subscription thereafter. The app is currently available on iOS and Google Play Store in the US market, and additional markets are currently being planned for.
UFC fans can access exclusive content such as original series and behind-the-scenes videos, athletes’ personal taste in music and custom playlists, athletes’ profile pages, artists’ material and more.
The two B2B companies behind the UFC Ultimate Sound app, are Norway-based ACX Music, and their streaming tech provider Tuned Global, which provided a turnkey solution including custom branded applications, in addition to a content delivery network, cloud infrastructure and more.
Based on the popularity of the UFC with over 600 million fans worldwide, the app’s potential is huge. UFC’s TV audience in the US alone surged above a million on ESPN during pandemic quarantine.
UFC Ultimate Sound also offers mixes for fitness workouts, an industry that Tuned Global is particularly active in, having also recently teamed up with fitness brand Psycle to develop a home workout music streaming app.
LYKA is a social media platform that includes “gift” giving and receiving features, secure chat and e-commerce functionality.
Founded in 2019 and headquartered in Silicon Valley and Hong Kong, LYKA describes itself as ” the ultimate social media challenger”.
The company’s initial operations have focused on Southeast Asia, where it has 6 million users.
The app is set to roll out its own on-demand streaming features for music, video and podcasts via Tuned Global’s Streaming Service APIs.
Users will be able to pay for their music subscriptions for LYKA’s streaming service using GEMs (Gift Cards in Electronic Mode), which they earn as a reward for content creation and engagement on the app.
LYKA users can also redeem their earned GEM’s at over 16,000 partner merchants in the region, including Ford, Bose and Toni & Guy.
LINE Music was launched in 2015 by LINE Corporation, owner and operator of popular free call and messaging app LINE.
Speaking to MBW recently, the service’s Head of Business Development, Misaki Iki, noted the significance of being part of larger social media company.
The Line messaging service counts 84 million users in Japan. The country’s population was 126.3m as of 2019, which means that the LINE messenger is being used by over 66% of people in the country.
LINE Music has become Japan’s biggest domestic music streaming service, confirming in June last year that it has over 11 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs), with over 32 million downloads of its app.
LINE Music, which features a karaoke feature that instantly displays lyrics to sing along with from supported songs, is a prominent player in a country where physical music, including vinyl and CDs still account for the majority (around two thirds) of Japan’s annual recorded music trade revenues.
Japan is on the cusp of transitioning from a physical to a digital-led market however. According to IFPI’s Global Music Report, Japan’s streaming trade revenues grew by a third to over $480m last year. As Japan’s biggest domestic music streaming service LINE Music has played a key role in this growth.
Tuned Global recently renewed a partnership with Line Music that dates back to 2016.
Tuned Global’s ‘Intaga’ technology helps the firm to ingest large volumes of files from rightsholders and to deliver content in the appropriate format to Line Music. Tuned Global’s tech also allows Line Music to manage its catalog efficiently.
TrueID is a digital content platform from True Digital, the innovation arm of TrueCorp, one of Thailand’s largest telcos.
True Digital Group claims to be a “premier technology organization” and it’s got good reason to do so.
True’s ‘super app’ TrueID, which attracts 22.2 million monthly active users (MAUs) across the web and app, is one of the most popular lifestyle content apps in the country.
It offers access to movies, TV, news, music and sports-related content and features over 8,000 hours of Hollywood and local movies as well as TV shows.
It’s also the self-described “King of sports”, boasting the sole broadcast rights for the English Premier League in Thailand.
TrueID, which was the most downloaded app in its category in 2018, had its in-app music experience overhauled by Tuned Global, which integrated its music streaming API capabilities into TrueID’s app.
True says that its app’s music MAUs were up 10% within three months following the Tuned Global integration compared the three months prior.
Music Business Worldwide