Many fans were floored when they learned that Pharrell – the Vivienne Westwood hat wearer – earned less than $3,000 from the 43 million digital streams of his infectious, chart-topping hit song Happy on Pandora. While some point to this financial imbalance as the reason streaming services should be shut down, let’s face it – on-demand digital music is here to stay. But PredPop (Predictive Pop), a new proprietary web-tracking technology, just might be the answer to the decade old question of how to properly compensate artists for every instance their music is enjoyed online, without rewinding the clock to the “good ol’ days” when fans were forced to shell out $20 for an entire album.
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“We are creating a brand new source of revenue that the music industry does not have right now,” says Shelton Mercer III, PredPop co-founder and CEO of the charitable platform TwitChange.
While Pharrell’s income was only diminished slightly, streaming services offer an essential subsidy to independent and lesser known artists whose music won’t illicit hundreds of thousands of dollars from concert tickets, commercials, radio play, and merchandising.
“We specialize in using data and analytics to find new paths to monetization for the music industry,” says Jon Gosier, who co-founded the company with Mercer. “We looked at all of these conversations around streaming with Tidal and Apple Music, but we noticed that, with all of these new efforts, none of them really solved the problem, which is to stop the tide of declining revenue for artists from their actual music.”
Currently, PredPop is marketing two products: a data visualization dashboard that helps music execs, advertising teams, and the managers of artists track music impressions and make revenue decisions based on social media activity, artist sales, shows, and streaming activity, among other things. The second product is an audio cookie that monitors music listeners worldwide, to improve the way online ads are targeted.
Predpop’s music data canvas project explores 25 years of chart-topping hits through data visualization. It looks at the number of weeks the songs charted and the years they were released, with links to corresponding videos on YouTube.
“In addition to capturing historic trends, it also makes projections and gives artists and labels ideas about how to maximize monetization opportunities,” says Gosier. “The audio cookie allows artists and record labels to receive ad revenue associated with their music. It serves the purpose of monetizing things that were previously not monetizable. Our technology works for independent artists as much as it does for signed artists.”
While the technology is up and running, the company is in a pilot stage until after they raise a seed round of $1.2 million, where they can grow the company and support multiple clients.
Gosier, a former recording engineer who worked with Outcast, the Neptunes and Tyler Perry, left the music industry around the time that Napster hit the scene. He’s currently known as a successful technology impresario who has built a number of successful ventures, including Metalayer, a big data solutions platform that was acquired in October 2013. The sale of Metalayer to D8A allowed Gosier to open Third Cohort, a fund he started with eight other Philly-based investors to dole out $10,000 to $25,000 to very early stage tech startups. Shelton and Gosier connected through a common desire to boost the startup innovation scene in Philadelphia.
“Our partnership made a lot of sense because of my background working with music acts like The Jonas Brothers at Warner Bros. Records and Universal Records,” says Shelton, a serial entrepreneur who launched a media strategy startup and built a prosperous software platform for fan incentive sites that leveraged gamification and rewards to promote content and drive grassroots marketing. “We are going to labels, artists, and brands and looking at ways to bring them all together so we can deliver revenue to the folks who deserve it.”