Music video website and distribution player Muzu TV has signed a global licensing deal with Merlin, the label behind leading indie bands like Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand and acts such as Bjork and Tom Waits.
The deal will transform Muzu TV from a music player site active in Europe through deals with Universal, Warner, EMI ,Sony and Beggars Group into a global operator with a 10pc share of the US indie market.
The company has also been adjusting its strategy from being a pure-play video site that enters into ad-sharing deals with labels and artists into being a video partner site for key acts, including Madonna and Michael Jackson.
“This makes us the only video player for the independent music sector chosen by Merlin,” Muzu co-founder Ciaran Bollard told siliconrepublic.com. “Merlin effectively chose Muzu over YouTube and MySpace.”
Muzu TV allows fans to create, watch and share music-video playlists. Users can create video playlists from thousands of videos and embed them on their social- networking sites. The site generates its revenue by sharing ad revenues with artists and labels.
The site provides free access to thousands of hours of diverse music video content, including concerts, back-stage footage, documentaries, tutorials, music videos, interviews and classic music TV shows such as The Tube.
For music fans, Muzu TV is primarily about watching, creating and sharing unlimited music-video playlists. Fans can access over 10,000 artist channels, including major label acts such as The Script (pictured), The Ting Tings, MGMT and Beyonce, plus up-and-coming indie bands such as Fight Like Apes, Bo Pepper and This Devil is Yours, not to mention all of EMI Music’s content.
Bollard explained that the deal with Merlin means that Muzu TV can now run videos worldwide on behalf of 9,000 different independent labels that are Merlin members, including Katie Melua, Franz Ferdinand, Radiohead, Bjork, the White Stripes, Vampire Weekend and Maximo Park.
“This sets us apart from competitors such as YouTube and MySpace. We are the only music video company in the world to have deals with all four record labels and Merlin.”
Bollard said the deal with Merlin will also attract powerful US-based labels to look at Muzu TV as a platform for future revenues. “This will also bring another 15,000 to 20,000 legitimate music videos to Muzu TV. At present, we have around 60,000 professional music videos on the site.
He told siliconrepublic.com that the company will be concentrating on full expansion into the US music market in the fourth quarter of this year.
Bollard added that Muzu TV’s success so far is proof that it is possible to create a global digital media company from Ireland.
“There are some really great advantages to being based in Ireland, but we believe the indigenous software and digital media sectors are not supported enough.
“There’s too much focus on Ireland being the 51st State of America and not enough support on getting home-grown businesses off the ground. There’s no real support to accessing strategic investment partners to grow the business in the US.
“There are some really good support mechanisms in place, such as the Hothouse programme for entrepreneurs that covers their salary for a year. That’s a good support for someone who has taken a massive risk in trying to set up their own business.
“But start-up entrepreneurs need greater support in terms of access to seed funding.”
Looking ahead to Muzu TV’s expansion, Bollard said that in terms of traffic acquisition the company has over-achieved and now some 7 million videos are being watched on the site daily.
“Our major goal is profitability for the Irish and UK businesses very soon, then we will be on track to set up a new business in the US and make that profitable.”
Bollard said that as the official video partner of Michael Jackson, more than one million videos were downloaded in 10 days.
By John Kennedy
Pictured: Irish band The Script
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