Warner is signing double the number of artists via AI-driven A&R tool Sodatone than it did last year. Now, it’s hired a global head of Data Science.

Dr. Kobi Abayomi, Warner Music Group's new SVP, Data Science and Analytics

Yesterday delivered a stat that pricked up MBW’s ears.

Following the announcement of Warner Music Group’s calendar Q3 earnings, the company’s CEO, Steve Cooper, held a discussion with analysts.

Within that discussion, Cooper dropped the following piece of information: “Since January, on a year-over-year basis, we’ve doubled the number of new artist and songwriter signings identified through our proprietary A&R app, Sodatone.”

Or to put it another way, in the year of Covid lockdown, Warner Music Group is signing 100% more new artists via its artificial intelligence-driven A&R scouting tool than it did in 2019.

Sodatone uses machine learning to mine the circa 40,000 tracks uploaded to the likes of Spotify each day – as well as social media and touring data, – before highlighting the new artists that are starting to make waves online to WMG’s team.

Another AI-powered A&R scouting platform, Instrumental – which recently attracted investment from Tencent – has previously predicted that artificial intelligence will inevitably revolutionize the starting point of A&R at major labels: i.e. the discovery of promising new artists.

From that point, suggests Instrumental boss Conrad Withey, the human element of A&R within these labels – i.e. the development of artists and their sound – will pick up the baton.

“on a year-over-year basis, we’ve doubled the number of new artist and songwriter signings identified through our proprietary A&R app, Sodatone.”

Steve Cooper, Warner Music Group

This exact pattern now seems to be taking place at WMG, which acquired Sodatone for an undisclosed fee in Q1 2018.

At that time, Warner’s global head of recorded music, Max Lousada, said that Sodatone would help “to differentiate us in the search for the superstars of tomorrow”.


Today (November 24), the story of Warner’s relationship with gaining insights from complex digital data gained another chapter, with WMG hiring an impressive individual to spearhead the company’s global efforts to make “data-backed business decisions”.

Recognized data science expert, statistician, and author Dr. Kobi Abayomi has joined WMG as SVP, Data Science and Analytics.

In the newly created role, says Warner, Abayomi will “lead analytics globally across WMG, driving valuable business insights through which the company can measure and maximize success for its artists and songwriters”.

Dr. Abayomi will be based in New York and report to Oana Ruxandra, EVP, Business Development and Chief Digital Officer.

Dr. Abayomi joins WMG from WarnerMedia, where he directed monetization for the company’s varied broadcast media inventory.

Prior to that, he held posts at Barnes & Noble Education and Dun & Bradstreet, and served as a professor at Georgia Tech, Binghamton University, and the University of Cuenca.

His business work has focused on audience behavior, activation, and segmentation; while his research work was on environmental sustainability, statistical dependency, and econometrics.

A sample of Dr. Abayomi’s applied work includes: creating the methodology for the Columbia University Earth Institute’s Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI); the World Bank Hotspots Report; the Duke/Ford Foundation’s National Asset Scorecard; the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 2015 predictions; and the New York City Department of Education College Undermatching Report.

He is a graduate of Georgia Tech and Columbia University and has completed post doctorate study at Duke and Stanford Universities.

He is a widely cited author – having penned novel work in statistics, econometrics, and probabilistic dependency – and holds appointments on the faculty and data science council at Seton Hall University.

“Kobi is a brilliant author, scholar, and executive whose extensive resume speaks for itself.”

Oana Ruxandra

“Kobi is a brilliant author, scholar, and executive whose extensive resume speaks for itself,” said Ruxandra.

“Working closely with our partners in Recorded Music, Corporate, and Music Publishing, he’ll play a critical role in helping us use data to forecast trends and aid our artists, songwriters, and ultimately music fans.

“There’s no one better suited to take on this post as we continue to emphasize the importance and value of making strategic, data-backed business decisions.”

“I’m impressed with everything Oana and the team have accomplished to build the business and I’m eager to get to work to help elevate the careers of the wonderful artists and songwriters on the WMG roster around the globe.”

Dr. Kobi Abayomi

Abayomi added: “I’m thrilled to be joining WMG, a company that so many iconic artists, and many of my favorite artists, call home.

“I’m impressed with everything Oana and the team have accomplished to build the business and I’m eager to get to work to help elevate the careers of the wonderful artists and songwriters on the WMG roster around the globe.

“From playing the pipe organ in church as a kid to DJ’ing for my college radio and in NYC bars and clubs, I’ve been an avid consumer of music for a long time; I’m now keen to marry my love and enthusiasm for music with my professional training and experience in this great role at WMG.”Music Business Worldwide

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