Sir Elton John has made a significant investment in London-based music tech startup Audoo, joining ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus and Sir Paul McCartney as investors in the Abbey Road-backed company.
Audoo aims to "revolutionize" the distribution of public performance royalties through the installation of smart listening devices, or Audio Meters, in venues and businesses. These devices automatically recognize music that's played in public, notifying collection societies and ensuring that artists and rightsholders are compensated fairly.
Every time an artist's song is played in public - whether that's a Spotify playlist on in a café or a track being played by a DJ at a nightclub - the composer, lyricist and music publisher behind the song are owed royalties. Often, though, these royalties don't end up being paid, as (rather impractically) the onus is on the business owner to inform collection societies (organizations tasked with collecting these royalties) of each song that's played in their business or venue.
Audoo hopes to solve this problem through the installation of specially-designed Audio Meters that make an accurate record of music played in commercial premises using Shazam-style song recognition technology. These meters automatically collect data on every song played and directly inform collection societies, who can then use this data to collect royalties, ultimately making sure that musicians and rightsholders are paid what they're owed.
“Working as a musician can be seen as all glitz and glamour but for the vast majority of artists, especially new and emerging acts, this isn’t the case," Elton John said in a statement. "It’s often brutally unfair and this sadly extends into being paid correctly. Right now, artists are not being paid accurately for their plays because the data simply doesn’t exist."
"People have given up on their dreams and we’ve lost talent and future stars because of this disparity. That’s why we’ve invested in Audoo and their world-class technology and data, to help create a more transparent system for everyone, and ultimately to keep the music alive."
Last year, we interviewed the team behind Aslice, a startup seeking to ensure that dance music producers are paid performance royalties when their tracks are played by DJs. Installed on a DJ's USB stick, Aslice's software automatically captures playlist data to be uploaded to the Aslice platform after their set. The DJ is then given the option to volunteer a portion of their performance fee directly to the producers of the tracks they've played.
Audoo, founded in 2018, joined Abbey Road's tech start-up incubator program Abbey Road Red in 2019.