Musiio secures funding at $10m valuation as it signs Hipgnosis and expands product portfolio

Hazel Savage

Fast-growing AI company Musiio has completed a new round of investment, signed Hipgnosis as its latest client and unveiled a new ‘Custom Filters’ feature, which it claims provides a significantly more bespoke and effective catalog search facility.

The size of the funding round is undisclosed, but has given Musiio a $10 million valuation. That’s up from $3.5 million in 2019.

The latest round included investments from Premiumbeat founder Francois Arbour, as well as the owner of Tileyard Group, Paul Kempe.

Musiio co-founder Hazel Savage told MBW that the new funding, whilst obviously helpful, was not actually needed operationally by her company, but that it proves Musiio’s increased standing amongst strategic investors from various sectors.

The Hipgnosis deal, meanwhile, is being pitched as a “statement signing”. Savage said: “When I started Musiio, I knew that search would be our most powerful product. More music is being created than ever, and the value of music as an asset is being advanced hugely by companies like Hipgnosis.

“But you need to be able to organise and search that asset to maximise its potential, and that’s what we do here at Musiio; we make extremely large catalogs of music very searchable. Think of it as Google Image Reverse Search, but for Audio.”

Tom Stingemore, EVP Sync & Creative at Hipgnosis, added: “Not only does Musiio’s AI answer a long-standing question, but it’s ready to go – and it works. Crucially the team at Musiio have worked with us to customise their platform to suit our exact requirements.

“This bespoke tool now allows us to instantaneously filter our 60,000 songs in the ways that meet the needs of music supervisors, directors, advertising agencies, producers and broadcasters alike – at the press of a button.”

MBW spoke to Savage to get more detail on the new funding, Musiio’s latest backers, the Hipgnosis deal, and her company’s Hit Potential Algorithm is working with Vans in Asia…

Musiio is still a relatively young company. can you give us some idea of the scale of growth you’ve experienced in that short time?

We are only three-and-a-half years old, but we have signed 55 enterprise deals, our revenue from 2019 to 2020 grew over 600%, and we are on track to double our revenue again in 2021 (compared to 2020).

But I’m most excited by our new $10m valuation; it really shows the investors have faith in us and the market recognises our growth from a $3.5m valuation company in 2019.

Also, the last two months have been profitable, and that’s always exciting!

Where does the new round of funding fit into that pattern? What prompted you to go for it and what will it be used for?

Funnily enough, I didn’t super need the cash when I raised this round. My goal was to prove that there were strategic investors who believed in what we have built.

Francois Arbour, the guy who sold Premiumbeat to Shutterstock for $47.5m, is one investor and the other is Paul Kempe, the man behind [UK music studio/business campus/property group] Tileyard. These guys know music tech and they value us highly, that’s the new face of Musiio for 2021.

You have just signed the always-busy Hipgnosis as a client. What is the nature of that deal, and can you talk a bit about the value of Musiio’s ‘search’ function for a company like that?

I am so excited to announce Hipgnosis as a client, they are one of the great movers in music from the last few years, so the fact they are using the Musiio Search Tech on a daily basis is an amazing check-mark in our favour.

The brilliant thing about Hipgnosis is that they have acquired all these amazing songs, but the challenge is that these songs together constitute a one-of-a-kind, never seen before combination of songs (a unique catalog, if you will). Using AI-assisted search lets them navigate their own catalog as if they have managed these songs for a lifetime – effectively, fast and with clarity.

“If you represent a huge catalog, but have different geography rules, or different ownership percentages for certain tracks, all of that can be programmed into Musiio and made searchable alongside all of our other features. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only AI search company with this capability.”

Not only does Musiio have super accurate, lightning-fast search on thousands of tracks, we also are happy to add in the customer’s own data in a new feature we call ‘Custom Filters’, and this is what really impressed Tom [Stingemore, Head of Sync at Hipgnosis]. He told me he had heard of this tech in theory, but to see it working, and then to have our team go out of their way to make it work how they want… they were very happy, I am pleased to say.

It actually took my amazing co-founder Aron Pettersson six months to build Custom Filters, but what is wild is how deceptively simple it is. If you represent a huge catalog, but have different geography rules, or different ownership percentages for certain tracks, all of that can be programmed into Musiio and made searchable alongside all of our other features. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only AI search company with this capability.

Who else can you count as clients at this point?

As well as Hipgnosis, we also have Epidemic Sound, Jamendo and Vans. I wish I could name more, but 70% of my clients are fully confidential; you might be surprised who is powered by Musiio.

Last time we spoke, YOU’D JUST LAUNCHED THE HIT POTENTIAL ALGORITHM. How has that gone over the last six months?

Hit Potential continues to be a very new and exciting product, but I think it scares the industry a little, so we go slow and steady with it. One thing I can tell you is that the current Vans Musician Wanted campaign in Asia  is backended by Musiio Tech, including the Hit Potential. Vans Asia has really embraced AI for A&R.

What are your next goals, either in terms of expanding the portfolio or expanding your footprint in the global business?

I am always looking to close more deals. It’s funny, I never did sales before I became a founder, but it’s actually quite addictive once you get into it. I love pitching our product and putting deals together that save my clients money, or make them money. What a buzz!Music Business Worldwide