Feed Media Group (FMG) launched with a modest ambition: to enable companies to legally stream popular music in-app. Fast-forward 10 years and we’ve grown into the leading business-to-business music platform, streaming 550 million songs to 6 million unique users annually. We create a win/win for everyone: from business partners like American Eagle Outfitters, Mirror, Nautilus and their end-users, to artists and rightsholders.
I recently discussed the four ways we help rightsholders get paid with Bryn Boughton, our VP of Music.
#1 – New Revenues
You often talk about the net-new revenues our company generates for rightsholders, and the essential role we play in today’s music ecosystem. How is FMG able to tap into new streaming royalties, and why are so many rightsholders–Warner, BMG, Merlin, Kobalt, etc.–signing on as partners?
The fitness sector provides a good example of how FMG funnels new revenues to rightsholders. Until a few years ago, the only money rightsholders were getting from fitness companies was for background music on-premises. Even before the arrival of COVID-19, innovative companies like Mirror and Peloton were disrupting fitness, and the past two years have seen an explosion in new digital fitness companies plus traditional businesses pivoting to encompass online workouts.
Over the past year, FMG’s royalty payouts more than doubled, and we expect that trend to continue. As a one-stop music solution for diverse use cases and business types, we provide critical infrastructure and economies of scale to customers and rightsholders alike. Additionally, our music licenses allow us to provide more diverse popular content than any single rightsholder could deliver…aggregating and fulfilling all royalty payments in a timely manner.
Before FMG, many businesses found the music copyright landscape too complicated and cost-prohibitive to navigate on their own. Without our platform, we know most fitness businesses forgo music integration or choose royalty-free music. And others even infringe (knowingly or not), creating a rift with the music industry. More broadly speaking, the same is true for lots of non-fitness companies that need a streamlined, legal music solution.
#2 – Music Discovery
Traditional gatekeepers like radio, record stores, and print media have downsized or disappeared entirely, with music discovery transitioning to curated playlists, social media, and online outlets. In terms of discovery, what do you make of suggestions that fitness instructors are influencers, and exercise classes are the new nightclubs?
There’s absolutely room for music discovery in fitness and big opportunities for exposure. Instructors have very eclectic taste and they’re always looking for high-quality music across different genres for their classes. Fitness apps are both a distribution and marketing vehicle for music discovery. We work with the majors, but also an incredible list of independents and distributors to make sure we’re delivering the best musical experience to the end-user. Sometimes that’s a familiar hit and sometimes it’s a song by their next new favorite band.
FMG’s fitness partners benefit from our world-class Curation Team, who tap into expertise and experience as ethnomusicologists, classically trained musicians, and music biz and radio vets, pairing human selection with playback data to deliver customized stations. These stations are regularly optimized to correspond with a company’s brand, end-user demographics, exercise modality, and even instructor preferences.
And yes, it’s clear that many of these fitness instructors are influencers, with their classes performing better in terms of attendance and often requiring specific music soundtracks. The nightclub metaphor is also apt: our curators (many of whom are also DJs) know that the most effective stations balance known favorites with new music end users haven’t heard. The winning formula is 75% familiar, 25% discovery.
#3 – Safeguarding Content
I’ve heard you describe your work in terms of the security we offer rightsholders. How does FMG manage and deliver content for our music industry partners, and what security controls are in place?
Our innovative CTO & Co-Founder, Eric Lambrecht, deserves credit for developing FMG’s proprietary music APIs. All music streams directly from our company’s servers, with full transparency into every stream. If there’s ever an issue, we can turn off access immediately.
Another advantage of our full-service, centralized ingestion process is that it minimizes delivery expenses for rightsholders. Our Content Ops team expertly wrangles a large volume of new content on a daily basis, working closely with Engineering to ensure all licensing stipulations are properly tracked and applied.
#4 – Market Intelligence
Are there any other benefits that FMG provides to rightsholders? Any parts of the work you’re doing that you wish were better understood?
Our market intelligence will be of increasing importance to both business customers and rightsholders. Functionality including skips, likes, and dislikes provides feedback that’s far more sophisticated than any brick-and-mortar music integration can provide. Particularly for the fitness industry, we’re able to aggregate data to glean valuable across-the-board insights and spot emerging trends. We also look forward to sharing emerging market data on new music uses that occur on our first-of-its-kind Adaptr platform.
I’m excited about the work FMG is doing to understand the power of music and the many applications that can improve our lives. We recently met with the world’s foremost expert on music and exercise, Professor Costas Karageorghis, which resulted in a new white paper summarizing more than two decades of research on how and why music in fitness works.
You’re arguably the funniest person at our company and an avid comedy fan. Do you think it’s a mere coincidence that you specialize in the famously challenging business of music licensing, or should a good sense of humor be a job requirement?
I think a good sense of humor should be a job requirement for any position. But being able to take a novel approach and look at a challenging situation creatively is certainly helpful with music licensing. Humor is also a good way to create intimacy with someone and defuse stressful situations: I’ve found both important in building long-lasting relationships and coming to mutually beneficial agreements. I credit my first job in the entertainment industry–as an intern at The Late Show with David Letterman–for exposing me to the power of humor in stressful situations. Besides fluency with the often bizarre intricacies of music licensing, you gotta be good with people to succeed in this business.
Feed Media Group provides the licensing, curation, and technology that businesses need to legally use music in digital experiences. Best of all, we handle all tracking, reporting and payments to rightsholders, making it easy for you to aggregate many small revenue streams while keeping an eye on growing opportunities.
Feed.fm powers music for the world’s leading brands including American Eagle Outfitters, Mayo Clinic, Mirror, Nautilus and Tonal; and up-and-coming startups use Adaptr to create unique music-based experiences. Our music partners include Warner, BMG, and Merlin. Learn more at feedmediagroup.com.