‘For music rightsholders, Web3 is an opportunity for extraordinary growth.’

Con Raso, CEO, Tuned Global

Tuned Global has been making major strides in the worldwide music business in recent years.

Founded in Australia in 2010 by MD Con Raso, the specialist B2B music technology firm has powered streaming platforms throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific, the Caribbean, North America, the UK and Europe, with launches in the Middle East also in the works.

Amongst the various companies that have used Tuned Global’s technology are Thailand’s first localized streaming app, Plern, which recently surpassed a million downloads just three months after launch.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tuned Global provides a range of B2B music services for Japan’s biggest domestic streaming platform, Line Music. Line has been using Tuned Global’s content delivery tech and music back-end for six years. 

Meanwhile, Tuned Global has also made in-roads into the connected fitness space, powering products for the likes of European fitness music provider Pure Energy, as well as British fitness brand Psycle London.

The firm is also making noise in the music creation space, working with Swedish DJ mobile app, Pacemaker.

Now, having established itself as a key player in the B2B music streaming space in multiple markets Tuned Global is setting its sights on the emergent Web3 sector, with a particular focus on NFTs and the metaverse.

The NFT movement, and the business around it, has built so much momentum over the past 18 months that it’s attracted the attention of all three major labels, plus substantial investment from prominent VC firms. Some superstar artists have even generated tens of millions of dollars from single NFT drops.

“If you look at the speed at which the sector is moving, I would say we haven’t scratched the surface yet,” Tuned Global’s Con Raso tells MBW about the opportunities ahead for music in Web3. He adds: “User generated content, live events and back catalog opportunities [for music] in Web3 are immense.”

He adds: “I [liken] the growth of Web3 to the transition from tapes, to CDs, to streaming, in that it dramatically grows the market.”

Raso explains that Tuned Global started exploring the NFT business about 18 months ago, identifying an opportunity to apply its catalog and territorial rights management expertise – as well as its technical content delivery know-how – to work with companies wanting to get involved in the space.

“We can assist other companies that are trying to get into music NFTs, but also be the conduit around publishing and master rights and how it all fits together,” explains Raso.

Looking to the future, Raso tells MBW that Tuned Global – which says it’s profitable and growing turnover at over 80% year-on-year – has plans to accelerate its growth in the NFT space and other areas, and is not ruling out a capital raise to drive expansion.

Here, Raso tells MBW about Tuned Global’s journey from Australia-based startup to a prominent name in the global B2B music tech sector, how it plans to scale its business, and the possibilities of Web3…

Why was Tuned Global established in 2010?

We came from a background of physical media distribution and robotic CD duplication. We knew the market was changing quickly and we actively created strong relationships with a number of music labels.

We started as a small startup outside Melbourne, Australia but we had big goals to become the world’s best platform powering global music services. We identified key opportunities in the market and although downloads were still a thing, we started to focus on streaming as the future.

Streaming was still in its very early stages, but we felt that streaming, and not an ownership model around music, was going to be the next big trend. We also understood data. We understood the technology behind it. It seemed like a logical step for us to say that streaming was the next step in our growth phase.

How do you feel Tuned Global is positioned in the market today and how has that positioning changed in the years since the company was founded?

We think it’s fair to say Tuned Global is a clear technology leader in the streaming market. We’ve always focused on how we deliver exceptional outcomes for our clients and their users. This has positioned us today as the most innovative company [in the B2B streaming space].  

The first major change is that we’re now a truly global company. Tuned Global’s technology has powered major streaming solutions throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific, the Caribbean, North America, the UK and Europe. We’re also launching some major services in the Middle East soon.

The second major change is that we’ve broadened our technology capability, so, not only do we power music services, but we also power audio books, video streaming, live concerts, user generated content and engaged social integrations. 

“not only do we power music services, but we also power audio books, video streaming, live concerts, user generated content and engaged social integrations.”

We now offer full 360 turnkey streaming solutions across all these services with white-label streaming apps, API integrations, catalogs and rights management and monetization capabilities which is very unique in our market. 

The third major change is that we’ve expanded significantly into new music areas such as fitness, gaming and more recently Web3 and the metaverse.

The final major change is our focus on AI and its role in delivering an extraordinary user experience. Utilizing AI and data is now key to everything we do at Tuned Global.

Along this journey we also built our own direct to consumer streaming service in Southeast Asia. That was a great learning curve to test and improve our product in the market with real, passionate music users, while understanding the limitations of the regions in terms of device, connectivity and pathway to monetization. 

We’ve been in our current clients’ shoes by investing our own money to operate and market this D2C service, which has been the foundation of our current B2B streaming platform.

How big a part of your business are formats other than music getting?

It’s early days but we have added what seems like a huge amount of additional capability in the last two years. Our core expertise is music but we have grown to be [able to handle] all types of content streaming, from music, to podcasts, audiobooks, video (VOD) and live streaming (audio and video). We also added radio capabilities recently, including the ability to create 24/7 stations from playlists.

While it varies region by region, about 25% of the projects we are working on now involve these new formats, with or without music.

We have seen the market, particularly in Asia, take on a ‘Super App’ approach. This means that they are addressing multiple [content formats] within a single app. Our client True Digital for example, [offers an app] that includes live sports alongside video, music and podcasts.

In some markets for example, our clients are seeing their in-app short-form VOD surpass YouTube views, which is a great milestone.

How do you measure success as a company today, and what will success look like for Tuned Global in 5-10 years from now?

We are currently employing a stack of new people, from technical, to client success and reporting. This has been underpinned by strong business growth and good financials. Tuned Global is profitable and growing at over 80% year-on-year and I would say the future looks like it’s accelerating at the moment.

Ultimately, however, we’re really about our clients. We believe Tuned Global should be measured by the success of our clients. This means we tend to assist with not only the technical side but provide both advice and tooling on marketing, acquisition and retention based on our experiences across D2C and B2B activities. Line Music in Japan, [for example], has been with us for six years and has tens of millions of users.

In the future, we will continue to measure ourselves on user metrics, but also on how our technologies have helped reshape the streaming landscape. 

Examples of this will be continued collaboration with labels and publishers to provide solutions to new problems in the market, like, how to manage NFT distribution and payments, [as well as] Web 3, blockchain and royalties.

What are your predictions for Web3?

Web3 is incredibly exciting for Tuned Global. Business models, user experiences and ways of engaging with content are being reimagined almost daily. Reshaping the streaming landscape is what excites us.

There’s such an opportunity to rethink how we engage with content, how rightsholders think about distribution and monetization of their catalogs, and how artists engage with their fans.

There are a few key drivers for content in Web3. Web3, and particularly the concept of the Metaverse, is the next generation of social networks or [online] social interaction. We all expect the Metaverse to be both immersive, but also tailored to our personal tastes. Just as our Avatar and its outfit is unique, so should be its music.

“User generated content, live events and back catalog opportunities in Web3 are immense.”

This is where we believe Tuned Global’s technology and AI focus can really differentiate the various Metaverse experiences. We’re connected with some of the major Metaverse companies and the strategies are inspiring. Think for example, how an Avatar may develop its own music tastes through AI that’s different to its owner which may create inherent value for the composable NFT that represents it. You now have an Avatar with its own personalised take on music.

For music rightsholders, Web3 is an opportunity for extraordinary growth, if done properly. User generated content, live events and back catalog opportunities in Web3 are immense. We really value our relationships with the labels and publishers and we’re exploring some exciting Web3 opportunities with some of them.

How is Tuned Global addressing the opportunities presented by Web3 and associated categories including NFTs and the metaverse?

We’re already providing technical authentication models that work with Web3. We also provide white label app solutions that can operate with distributed assets (i.e. an NFT based streaming service) and we provide full API solutions to develop a rich music environment within a metaverse.

But we are music people at our core, so these aren’t just technical solutions, but they also have all the critical [elements] like rights reporting, rights management, publishing, disbursements and more, built in.

We’re also expanding our current financial reporting models to support a greater democratization inherent in Web3 by supporting user-based subscription financial models.

That is, if one subscriber listens 100% to one artist for the month, then the entire subscription revenue share from that one user goes to that artist. This really works well with Web3 and NFT streaming models, particularly with some of the DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organisations) being created.

Tell us about the engineering team behind the Tuned Global product and how big a role has this team has played in Tuned Global’s current market positioning?

Tuned Global is a technology-first company and over the years we’ve attracted some extraordinary people. They’re critical to who Tuned Global is as a business.

Most of our [engineering] team has been with us for the whole journey so far, and they work with the latest technologies to solve complex issues. We’re constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries. We also collaborate with our platform partners, such as Amazon Web Services, in these discussions.

Our engineering team has created some extraordinary solutions to client challenges, such as our serverless streaming platform, which enables us to create massive scale to the number of streams we can serve.

[Other solutions include] Intaga, our horizontally scalable ingestion engine that can ingest and transform over two million tracks per day, and our drag-and-drop app CMS that lets customers create unique design and user experiences, [or even] whole new sections in their application in real time.

I’m most excited about our Music DNA solution that delivers highly tailored music discovery solutions for our clients.

In what markets does Tuned Global have the biggest footprint, and in which markets are you predicting the most growth for the company in the next five years?

We’re growing rapidly across many different verticals and geographies. The main growth in our fitness clients is coming broadly from the USA and Europe. Gaming is a little broader with great teams in South East Asia, Europe and USA.

We’re seeing strong streaming growth coming from emerging economies, like Eastern Europe and Africa.

Asia will also always be an important market for us. It’s our roots, it’s in our DNA and it’s also where our largest music services operate. Clients like Line Music in Japan, GMM Grammy and True Digital in Thailand have tens of millions of users and niche services offering unique experiences are big influences on our technology platform.

However, our deep understanding of emerging music streaming markets in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America will continue to drive our growth in music as these markets are still relatively untapped opportunities for major labels.

How do you plan to scale the business?

We’re inundated with growth opportunities at the moment, so we’re hiring aggressively. We’re committed to expanding our teams in Europe, the US and South East Asia.

While we continue to grow our technical team, most of these new hires are around customer success to ensure we continue to deliver extraordinary outcomes to our clients as we grow.

We haven’t needed to raise capital for many years but with what we’re doing in Web3 and the Metaverse, we may look at options that would accelerate our growth in this space. 

We’re also working closely with some of our label partners on some really innovative services, so watch this space.Music Business Worldwide

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