It seems there are still new services launching to capitalise on the internet’s potential to plug new indie music in to the music industry. The latest comes from Wilshire Media Group, the holding company of two Virgin Digital refugees, Zack Zalon and Brendon Cassidy.
As the Midem music-biz conference got underway in Cannes, France, they announced $4 million in private equity funding to launch Hello Music, a strange A&R middleman website. The funding comes from KVG Partners, whose Dick Kiphart becomes the duo’s chairman.
Hello Music hasn’t yet launched publicly so it’s hard to tell exactly what it does but, judging from the announcement, it’s barely a digital startup at all. Unsigned acts can upload their tunes, it says, before repeating that the songs are “filtered by trained human ears”: “Hello Music believes you need a team of industry professionals — real people — to evaluate that music to find those artists whose careers will grow.”
After Hello Music’s humans weed out the tracks they don’t like, they will distribute them to partners including AudioMicro, Getty Images (NYSE: GYI), GigMaven, LyricFind, MediaNet, Next Big Sound, Slacker, Topspin, TuneCore and Yahoo! (NSDQ: YHOO) Music. Presumably, Hello Music will take a cut of online plays; it’s not clear what cut artists will get. “Terms will depend on the specific opportunity,” the announcement says, vaguely.
Is $4 million a lot to spend on what is essentially an A&R team? Perhaps; though not if royalties from plays on those services amount to anything significant.
Zalon and Cassidy, respectively, were president and CTO at Virgin Digital, an early subscription music service Richard Branson launched in 2004 and closed three years later. They had formed Wilshire Media Group and consulted for Virgin Digital before the service shut entirely.