Alex Goatcher, CEO and Founder of Know What’s Loved (KWL) explains how their company enables the music industry to target and connect with music fans at the same time accelerate music income and careers. He also talks about the challenges being a big data company in Asia, the possible effects of Blockchain and why such solutions are desperately needed in the music industry.
Q: Tell us about yourself, your role at KWL and how you came about doing it? I’m a Brit, and have been living in Singapore for almost 17 years. Before that, I spent 7 years living and working in Luxembourg, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, so I have spent over half my life overseas.
I started my career at CERN, the particle physics research centre on the French/Swiss border working as a software architect, before moving into other industries, namely medical imaging, security, banking (clearing and settlement) and internet publishing.
I moved to Singapore in 2001 and co-founded Mikoishi, a game development studio, which ran for ten years, but sadly had to shut their doors a few years ago.
As CEO of KWL, my role is to get things off the ground by working with my co-founders to raise capital, put key partnerships into place, build out our team and design the product. As the service nears open launch, I have shifted to help support business development and sales but will continue to stay close to our products and R&D.
The inspiration for KWL came during a 2-year consultancy stint I did post Mikoishi, working with music streaming service operators in the region. It gave me a first-hand view of just how significantly the music industry had transformed and how the whole value chain was becoming reliant on data to function.
Before founding the business, I wrote some prototype code to collect and analyse data; the results of which we used to engage prospective customers/partners and to validate and harden the proposition. The approach proved to be extremely useful, and we continue to work with a cross-section of the industry to evolve and improve our products and services.
Q: KWL is pioneering some of the very first, if not few Big Data companies for the music industry in Asia, why have you decided to set up in Singapore? And why music? Singapore, for me, was a natural choice. I’ve been here for 17 years and it’s always been a great hub from which to do business, particularly for Asia-Pacific.
My last business was much more centralised, we had near 100 people in Singapore, which frankly was hard to sustain. This time, we have built the business to be much less centralised and to take advantage of regional talent pools which can be accessed and scaled more cost-effectively. Our head office functions are here in Singapore, but core development and data operations are built in Manila. We are building a network of agents and partners throughout the region.
As to why music, people sometimes forget that APAC is a tremendously exciting territory for music, with Japan as the world’s 2nd largest market ($4.4bn in 2016), Australia at 5th, India, China, Thailand and Indonesia all demonstrating high adoptions of streaming and increased revenue from live entertainment. Another exciting opportunity includes brands that are frequently looking to music as means to activate and engage with consumers in the region, which is driving demand for more actionable intelligence around domestic music and their fans. Music + Brands are a win/win.
Q: We have seen a rise in big data companies out there. How does KWL stand out and who are your clients? First and foremost, we are super focused on serving this industry. Being an industry specialist means that we can serve its unique demands. That’s reflected in the experience we are building in the team, within our advisory board and our partners.
Secondly, with our scale of intelligence gathering. Thousands of data sources including major social networks, streaming services, terrestrial radio play data, tastemaker playlists, bloggers, street press, award data, concert / festival data, charts, even KTV songs selection data in some countries – the number of sources just keeps growing as we endeavour to build the deepest and broadest source of music industry intelligence.
Lastly, recognising that not all industry players are equal. Our mission is to democratise data analytics for the industry, providing all players from budding artists to major labels with access to the insights that only large-scale data analytics and social listening can provide. Ultimately, our goal is to enable the music industry to more effectively target and connect with music fans and accelerate music income and artist careers.
As for demand, it’s across the value chain. We are working with artists, artist management, independent labels, major labels, concert promoters, booking agents, venues, broadcasters, label services companies, artist services companies, trade organisations, music societies, brands, agencies – we even have interest from instrument and equipment manufacturers.
Each player in the music industry faces their own set of challenges. But what unites them all is the need to reach music fans online. Whether that’s to build a fan base, promote an artist or their music, sell tickets, discover/sign the next big act or just to understand music fans and their tastes – they need data.
KWL tracks global music consumption, artist popularity and fan activity across social media and streaming services. We ingest and analyse data from thousands of sources that we transform into intelligence that feeds our service – KWL360 a subscription based, analytics dashboard that provides users with key intelligence around consumption, artist popularity and fans.
Day 1: It’s an intelligence platform, but we have plans for it to evolve into something much bigger.
Q: With Blockchain being discussed more regularly in recent conferences, how do you think this is going to affect musical creators and ultimately big data companies like KWL? Blockchain, has the potential, over time, to address the horrible fragmentation and opacity we have today around music works and rights data and therefore streamline/accelerate the distribution of income to creators and performers. For music creators I think the benefits are obvious as Blockchain would preserve the chain of rights ownership and therefore make it easier to get paid. For data companies, streaming service operators, I can tell you that more robust music industry metadata would be most welcome.
Q: How does your business model work for KWL? And what are some of the challenges you currently face in the music industry as a start-up? Our core service (KWL360) operates as a software and as a service. It is charged based on subscription, with entry (free) and pro tiers for artists, as well as group and enterprise tiers for other organisations.
We also create periodic intelligence reports and datasets where access can be purchased on an Ala carte basis or accessed within the KWL360 intelligence dashboard as part a premium subscription tier. We also create periodic intelligence reports and datasets which can be purchased on an à la carte basis or accessed within the KWL360 intelligence dashboard as part of a premium subscription tier.
We have not as yet encountered challenges that are unique to the music industry. In fact, the response from the market has been overwhelming. The music industry is entering a new phase of growth which is driving demand for specialised analytics solutions.
Know What’s Loved (KWL), a data analytics company that enables the music industry to more effectively target and connect with music fans in order to accelerate music income and careers. The company tracks global music consumption, artist popularity and fan activity across social media and streaming services by ingesting and analysing data from thousands of data sources. For more information, please visit http://www.knowwhatsloved.com/
For more info about Alex Goatcher, please click here.