An acquisition you should care about: Pex buys music rights platform Dubset in $25m+ deal

You may have only heard of one of these companies, or maybe neither, but this is potentially a big deal in the world of music rights clearance, not to mention artist and songwriter royalties: Los Angeles-based Pex has acquired Dubset Media Holdings in a buyout worth $25m-plus.

What is Pex? Originally founded in 2014, its tech monitors social networks worldwide – as well as platforms which rely on UGC content – to weed out music and film content that belongs to rightsholders. Pex boasts that it can find “snippets as short as 1 second across dozens of platforms worldwide”.

Pex has processed 6 billion hours of audio and video data to date – representing more than 20 billion videos and songs – which it has discovered/tracked across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, VK, Vimeo, Twitch and Twitter.



Once it’s found this content use, TechCrunch reports, Pex allows its industry partners to either request a take-down, monitor consumption data and/or actually negotiate a licensing deal with the platform (i.e. get paid).

It can even find cover versions of songs, as well as identifying modified versions of tracks (see: certain YouTube uploaders who try to evade detection by slowing down or speeding up content).

“Our technology’s scale and speed enables broad market access by all rights holders to our rights management and analytics services, built on top of the 20 billion video and audio files in our indexed database. We feel this will prove to be a game-changing combination.”

Rasty Turek, Pex (pictured)

Pex, which says that it already works with ‘major music and film rights holders’, recently launched a new strand to its business model: its Attribution Engine.

This engine, says the firm, can be “plugged in” by tech platforms (think: the next TikTok), who can’t obtain YouTube-like UGC licenses from major rightsholders. Attribution Engine, Pex says, then “identifies, licenses, and administers royalties for content”.

No wonder, then, that Pex is now being likened to an ‘independent YouTube Content ID’.

It probably goes without saying that the upcoming implementation of Article 17 (previously Article 13) in Europe could quickly grow the importance of Pex’s position in the music industry.

Article 13/17, to remind you, would see platforms become legally responsible for user-generated copyright infringement on their services.

Article 17 is part of the new European Copyright Directive, which now looks like it won’t become law in the UK post-Brexit, but has to be implemented in EU member states by June 21, 2021.



What is Dubset? A San Francisco-headquartered startup that MBW has written about a few times before.

Dubset specializes in ensuring that uploads of ‘unofficial’ remixes and DJ sets – often packed with multiple samples and stems – can obtain copyright clearance for streaming, and that subsequent royalties are paid to the correct people.

In the past, Dubset has inked deals with the likes of Spotify and SoundCloud, while partnering with rightsholders such as Sony Music and Warner Music Group.

According to TechCrunch, the acquisition of Dubset by Pex was priced in the region of $25m to $50m.

According to a press release announcing the deal: “Rights holders using Dubset’s rights management platform for music distribution on major streaming services will now have access to their catalog’s use and performance in any audio and video content across social media and user-generated content platforms.”

“This acquisition will immediately expand rights holders’ abilities to locate, protect, and monetize use of their catalog within any form of music or video currently being shared on any of the world’s largest UGC and social media sites.”

Bob Barbiere, Dubset/Pex

“Dubset is a company we’ve been interested in for some time,” said Rasty Turek, founder and CEO of Pex. “There are very few companies in the music business that have successfully licensed as much catalog as Dubset, and the music rights database they’ve built is massive and rare.

“Our technology’s scale and speed enables broad market access by all rights holders to our rights management and analytics services, built on top of the 20 billion video and audio files in our indexed database. We feel this will prove to be a game-changing combination.”

Bob Barbiere, formerly of Dubset, now SVP Digital Rights at Pex, said: “The distribution of digital media via social media has outpaced rights holders’ abilities to track, license, and manage their audio and video assets. Dubset was timely and successful in filling an industry need around identification and licensing of music in mixes and remixes.”

Summing up the deal, Barbiere said: “This acquisition will immediately expand rights holders’ abilities to locate, protect, and monetize use of their catalog within any form of music or video currently being shared on any of the world’s largest UGC and social media sites.”

Pex raised $7m in seed funding in 2017 from Illuminate Ventures and Susa Ventures.Music Business Worldwide

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