Swiss fintech company Utopia has decided to sell its music industry directory and data platform, ROSTR, back to its founders Mark Williamson and Adam Watson.
The decision, announced Tuesday (February 7), comes less than three months after the company confirmed to MBW that it has made a number of layoffs.
“Like many growth companies in today’s macroeconomic environment, Utopia is making changes to its internal structure to optimize the business,” Utopia said at the time.
The news also arrives just over a week after it was announced that Utopia CEO Markku Mäkeläinen, would be leaving the business.
Utopia’s sale of ROSTR forms part of a wider strategic reorganization.
“Our Utopian vision is that the music industry can fully monetize the use of music in all its forms and continue to grow as a result. We’re working hard to make this a reality, by focusing our efforts on building the financial infrastructure and B2B services for the music industry.”
Mattias Hjelmstedt, Utopia
The company has decided to set up two divisions: Music Services and Royalty Platform as it refocuses on financial services for the music industry, the company says.
Utopia acquired US-based ROSTR and Austria-based music data analytics platform, ForTunes, in December 2021, paving the way for the establishment of Utopia’s Creator Services unit in 2022.
ROSTR claims to map “the largest database of artist teams including hundreds of thousands of relationships between artists, managers, agents, labels and publishers.”
With the sale of ROSTR, Utopia says it will now focus on serving creators through third parties via its B2B offerings. The company did not disclose whether it will also divest ForTunes.
“Utopia and ROSTR came together with a shared mission of making a better world for music, although we’ll be pursuing this mission on separate paths, we know ROSTR is an invaluable resource for the music industry and we wish Mark, Adam, and the whole ROSTR team the best of luck,” Utopia Executive Chairman Mattias Hjelmstedt said.
“When we were given the opportunity to re-acquire ROSTR, we had to take it; we have unfinished business helping to build a more connected entertainment industry.”
Mark WIlliamson, ROSTR
Commenting on the deal, ROSTR CEO and co-founder Mark WIlliamson said: “When we were given the opportunity to re-acquire ROSTR, we had to take it; we have unfinished business helping to build a more connected entertainment industry. We’d like to thank Utopia for the last year and wish them all the success going forward.”
The sale will allow Utopia to sharpen its focus on building and scaling a financial infrastructure and products for the music industry that would allow industry players to process royalties accurately.
“Our Utopian vision is that the music industry can fully monetize the use of music in all its forms and continue to grow as a result. We’re working hard to make this a reality, by focusing our efforts on building the financial infrastructure and B2B services for the music industry to process and pay out royalties quickly and accurately,” Hjelmstedt added.
Back in November 2022, a company spokesperson told MBW that Utopia has grown rapidly in two years, organically and through 15 acquisitions. The company is now working to realize cost synergies across its acquisitions and focus on sustainable growth.
Over the recent years, Utopia made a string of acquisitions including of physical music distributor Cinram, UK-based Absolute Label Services, Liverpool-based music publisher and publishing administration company Sentric Music Group, and UK-based distributor Proper Music Group, among many others.
Music Business Worldwide