Warner Music Group is building a superfan app

On Tuesday (February 27), Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl appeared at the Web Summit tech conference in Doha, Qatar.

Kyncl took part in a session titled ‘The artist, the CEO, and the future of music’ and was joined onstage by actress and singer, Nora Fatehi – who’s reported to be the most-followed Moroccan artist in the world, and who has just signed a global recordings deal with Warner Music Group.

Nora Fatehi is also a major Bollywood star, and was the first Arab-African artist to hit one billion views with a single music video on YouTube.

During the discussion, Kyncl and Fatehi talked about developments around artificial intelligence, the value of a record label, and the role that technology will play in the music industry in the future.

Kyncl also revealed that WMG is building its own ‘superfan app’.

Warner Music Group’s CEO told the audience that he “firmly believe[s] in the power of a superfan” but that “it hasn’t really been figured out.”

He added: “Something we’re working on at Warner are these direct-to-superfan experiences”.

Kyncl explained further: “I’ve assembled a team of incredible technology talent from Google and Stripe and Instacart and lots of other great technology companies who are working on a superfan app, where artists can connect directly with their superfans.”

“Music is omnipresent, it’s everywhere. Artists want to work with every single platform… they don’t want to optimize just for one platform over another. So a solution like this for superfans has to be a cross-platform solution. We, as a record label, are in a perfect position to do that.”

Robert Kyncl

Kyncl added that superfans “are generally the people that consume the most and spend the most” and that WMG is “focused on making sure that artists get data on these superfans”.

Nora Fatehi reacted to the news of the new app saying, “This sounds exciting… sign me up for this one.”

News of WMG developing its own superfan app arrives at a time when music industry leaders are becoming increasingly interested in monetizing the relationships between artists and fans.

At the start of the year, for example, Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge issued a New Year note to UMG’s global workforce, in which he forecasted an ongoing shift in the wider streaming market towards an ‘artist-centric’ royalties model.

UMG’s Chairman and CEO also announced that following UMG’s focus over the past year on getting streaming platforms to adopt an ‘artist-centric’ approach, UMG’s strategy will now be centered on “strengthening the artist-fan relationship”, specifically through “superfan experiences and products”.

In his own New Year note to WMG staff last month, Kyncl unveiled his long-term strategy for Warner, calling 2024, “The Year of The Next 10”. He also commented on his plan to “increase the value of music”, and as part of that strategy he outlined the “need to develop [WMG’s] direct artist-superfan products and experiences”.

Added Kyncl in his New Year note: “Both artists and superfans want deeper relationships, and it’s an area that’s relatively untapped and under-monetized. The good news is that we already have initiatives in flight against most of these areas, and specific projects with momentum behind them.”

Speaking in Doha on Tuesday, Kyncl told the audience more about one of those initiatives, WMG’s own superfan app. He noted that WMG’s work on the app is “quite advanced” and that it will launch later this year.

Added Kyncl: “Music is omnipresent, it’s everywhere. Artists want to work with every single platform. They don’t want to optimize just for one platform over another.

“So a solution like this for superfans has to be a cross-platform solution. We, as a record label, are in a perfect position to do that because we work with all of the platforms. Historically, we haven’t had the technology talent to do this, but now we do.”

Kyncl didn’t give any more details on the app, but there are potential shades of HYBE’s Weverse, with an added “cross-platform” element.

The HYBE-owned Weverse app brings together artist-related content such as music videos, teasers, movies and live streams. It also has a merch platform known as Weverse Shop, a music player called Weverse albums,  and a K-Pop-centric music publication called Weverse Magazine.

You can read more about Weverse in our recent analysis over here.

The development of Warner Music Group’s ‘superfan app’ arrives alongside recent evidence of the impact that the superfan category of fan is having on the music business.

US market monitor Luminate, in its Year End report for 2023 (published last month), revealed that 18% of US music listeners are superfans. This is up from 15% reported by Luminate for the first half of last year.

Luminate also reported that those superfans spend 68% more money on music each month and 76% more on physical music per month than the average U.S. music listener.

In Goldman Sachs’ latest Music In The Air report,  it claimed that if 20% of paid streaming subscribers today could be categorized as ‘superfans’ and, furthermore, if these ‘superfans’ were willing to spend double what a non-superfan spends on digital music each year, it implies a $4.2 billion (currently untapped) annual revenue opportunity for the record industry.Music Business Worldwide

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