More record labels flock to industry-saving Muzu’s banner

11 Nov 2008

Muzu TV, the new music video platform that has provided the record industry with the monetisation strategy it dearly craves, has signed up a number of new labels as well as an ad deal for Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 music game Lips.

Muzu TV has created a platform that allows labels like Sony and bands such as The Ting Tings to develop a homepage, but also generate revenue through an ad-supported model developed by the company, where revenues from ads are shared 50/50 between Muzu and the labels/artists.

Another aim of the site is to also allow unsigned bands to generate revenue from advertising and possibly sign record deals. The company’s Dublin headquarters boasts a recording studio where bands can drop in and create videos.

Future Human

Muzu – which was named New Software Company of the Year at the recent Irish Software Association Awards – is the brainchild of record industry veterans Ciaran Bollard and Mark French, and so far, a wide cross-section of the industry including artists, venues, festivals and music magazines have signed up, as well as music label Sony BMG. Other members of the Big-Four fraternity of labels are predicted to soon be joining the Muzu fold.

Existing members of Muzu include over 200 labels and content producers such as Ministry of Sound, Defected Records, Cherry Red Records, Eagle Rock, Planet Rock Profiles, SPV, Hollywood Music and Ninja Tune, to name a few.

Bollard told that other new labels have joined up including Fat Boy Slim’s Skint Loaded label, world No 1 DJ Armand van Buuren’s Armada label, Icelandic rock star Bjork’s One Little Indian label and Big Life Management, the label for acts such as the Verve and The Future Heads.

In an addition, Muzu has struck an ad deal with Xbox 360 to promote the new Lips music game, which will involve providing content within the Xbox 360 site and on Bebo.

According to Bollard, Muzu, which has raised €6m in venture capital from Oyster Capital, Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors, is currently in the middle of another major funding round and is planning to open the model up in new territories in the coming year.

He said the market for music videos online is only really beginning to deliver the monetisation strategy that the industry craves. “YouTube got the ball rolling with a mass-market opportunity, but it takes a long time for labels to establish that trust. We come from a label background and realised what was needed, and focused on getting exclusive deals with artists such as the Ting Tings, The Script and Leona Lewis.

“The labels are starting to engage and have gotten their heads around the whole idea of digital distribution. The industry is always looking for ways to generate additional income. The key is that the Muzu model has the competence to give the industry what it wants, and the fact that the model is ad-supported means the industry can begin to engage.

“The reason the industry has been standing back is really to figure out how it will exist in and around a parallel revolution in user-generated content. It wants to enter the market in a controlled way and doesn’t want its brands associated with illegal content.

“Our model is to pay bands 50/50, whether they are signed or unsigned.”

Having already signed Sony BMG, Bollard said it is only a matter of time before the remaining labels EMI, Universal and Warner come on board.

“In this current climate, business is challenging for everyone, but we see exciting things happening in the coming months,” Bollard said.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Pat Brazel, chairman of Irish Software Association; Ciaran Bollard, co-founder and director of Business Development, MUZU TV; Mark French co-founder and managing director, MUZU TV; Stephen Keogh; William Fry

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years