CANNES, France, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- MIDEM -- Hello Music, a new music company that combines technology resources with the art of A&R to identify talented musicians and connect them with career opportunities, announced today that it has received $4 million in private equity financing from KVG Partners. Hello Music was conceived and incubated by Wilshire Media Group, a digital music product design and development firm founded by Zack Zalon and Brendon Cassidy. Hello Music will launch with the participation of KVG. Dick Kiphart, the lead investor in KVG, principle at William Blair and Company, and president and CEO of The Lyric Opera of Chicago, has joined the company as chairman of the board. Initial Hello Music opportunities will come from partners AudioMicro, Getty Images, GigMaven, LyricFind, MediaNet, Next Big Sound, Slacker, Topspin, TuneCore and Yahoo! Music.
Zack Zalon, managing partner of Wilshire Media Group and Hello Music, said, "Technology has created infinite possibilities for musicians to distribute and promote their music, but there are fewer gatekeepers to identify quality acts and actually help them connect to the opportunities that power a career. Hello Music believes you need a team of industry professionals -- real people -- to evaluate that music to find those artists whose careers will grow. The Hello Music collective gives talent a chance to build on successes, whether that is on Internet radio, a television commercial, an iPhone app, or by providing access to tools to better manage their career."
Chris Capps, president and CEO of KVG Partners, said, "KVG is interested in identifying companies that will build long-standing value. The potential of the Internet to help unsigned artists has been steadily growing since the early '90s, but the digital music business needed to mature enough to support the Hello Music vision. The time is now right for Hello Music – a company that combines digital music technology with the human A&R function, providing musicians with opportunities to help them find success on their own terms."
Hello Music founders Zalon and Cassidy have extensive music and technology track records. They were the first two employees at Farmclub.com in the late 1990s, and President and CTO, respectively, of Virgin Digital, Richard Branson's digital entertainment platform group. While there, they launched the ground breaking Internet radio service, Radio Free Virgin. After seven years with Virgin, in 2006 they formed Wilshire Media Group, a product design and development company for digital entertainment products.
While incubating Hello Music, Zalon and Cassidy used the same rigorous "digital blueprint" process they apply when working with high-profile Fortune 500 media companies to help them formulate and execute their digital entertainment strategies. They wanted to create a digital music company that could help unsigned and independent artists flourish. After listening to dozens of artists in focus groups, surveying the current landscape of artist-focused services, and researching all the aspects of career development, the Hello Music model emerged.
Hello Music is simple to use, and a beta version is now available at www.hellomusic.com. Artists can upload their music and input their information at HelloMusic.com. From there, the company's evaluation team takes over, screening the quality of the music submissions and determining where they fit into the musical landscape. This filtering process -- by trained human ears -- is key to the Hello Music model. The company's scouting team is made up of industry advisors, songwriters and composers, world-class musicians, ex-label A & R people, and independent music aficionados who all share a love and passion for great music. The Hello Music team evaluates the music in advance for partner companies, giving them a clear professional assessment about all the music on the service. At the same time, it gives the artist feedback to assist with their career development and connect them with the right Hello Music partner opportunity. If the Hello Music partner yields revenue for the artist, the revenue will be shared between Hello Music and the artist. Terms will depend on the specific opportunity, and the artist always has the option to decide whether they want to participate with a particular partner. Hello Music takes nothing from the artist up front and will participate as the artist achieves various career milestones.
Initial Hello Music partners include:
- AudioMicro (Synchronization Service): Top tracks from Hello Music will have the option to be added to the Premium Collection of this pioneering micro-stock licensing service, supplying a revenue stream from YouTube videos, podcasts, TV, film, iPhone Apps and more for creative audio-visual projects. AudioMicro offers one of the largest user-generated micro stock music libraries, with over 200,000 tracks from publishers, composers, record labels, and sound designers worldwide. www.audiomicro.com
- Getty Images (Synchronization Service): Hello Music artists that qualify will be able to make their music available within a featured collection on this leading synchronization licensing service, putting their music in front of the companies that license music for film, TV, and commercials. www.gettyimages.com/music
- GigMaven (Online gig booking platform): GigMaven and Hello Music will create new opportunities for artists to book live performances. Optimizing the gig booking process for artists provides more recognition, fan interaction and revenue. GigMaven is currently booking gigs in NYC and will be rolling out to additional cities in the near future. www.gigmaven.com
- LyricFind (Digital Lyrics Service): Select Hello Music artists' lyrics will be included on LyricFind's digital lyric search engine and catalog, right alongside all the major music publishers, as well as thousands of independent publishers, gaining additional income when the services that use LyricFind's database, including iPhone Lyrics apps such as LyricFind, Lyrics+ and Camena, as well as Lyrics.com, Rhapsody, Slacker, Shazam, Music.com, and many more, deliver those tracks. www.lyricfind.com
- MediaNet (Digital Distribution): Top-rated Hello Music tracks will be guaranteed inclusion in MediaNet's catalog, which powers music distribution services for a number of Web publishers and application developers, including iLike, MOG, Fox News, Ultimate Guitar, Complete Playlists, Intertech Media and many more. www.mndigital.com
- Next Big Sound (Music Analytics): All Hello Music artists will have access to artist specific data aggregated across the most relevant social networking and media sites including Facebook, My Space, You Tube and Twitter among many others. This real-time presentation of online activity currently tracks changes in fans, plays, views and comments providing information crucial for results analysis, finding opportunities and making intelligent decisions. www.nextbigsound.com
- Slacker (Internet Radio): Hello Music will be the premier submission service for unsigned artists to Slacker Radio, giving them a path to be part of the Slacker music catalog. Slacker listeners can then integrate these artists and songs into their custom or genre Personal Radio stations, which can be enjoyed on the on the web, the most popular smartphones and a growing number of Internet-enabled portable and home devices. www.slacker.com
- Topspin (Direct-to-Fan Marketing Software): Select Hello Music artists will gain access to this leading-edge software platform. Topspin is the most complete technology platform for artists to create their own retail channels, effectively promote their music, and connect directly with their fans. www.topspinmedia.com
- TuneCore (Digital Music Distribution): Hello Music artists will receive a significant discount on TuneCore's services, so their music and videos can be made available on iTunes, eMusic, Amazonmp3 and many other major download sites, providing additional exposure and revenue opportunities. www.tunecore.com
- Yahoo! Music (Online Radio): Top songs on Hello Music will be featured in the independent artist channel of this premier online music destination site. Yahoo! Music sites reach over 20 million people every month in the United States and more than 50 million people worldwide. www.music.yahoo.com
SOURCE Hello Music