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Thursday, Feb 2, 2023

Music Startup Tunes Up Online Platform for Bands

Culver City startup WorldArts Media Inc. is trying to fill a similar role to the one occupied by Myspace Music in the mid-2000s by giving bands an online platform to promote themselves, post a variety of content and interact with fans.

“We really want to create a meaningful platform that brings value to bands,” said Jayson Won, chief operating officer and executive creative director at WorldArts. “Hopefully, through our platform, they can build an audience and community.”

Won fell in love with music as a kid in Los Angeles. As the drummer for Justice, a local hair-metal band in the 1980s, he got to live out his musical ambitions before turning his attention to the business world in his early 20s when he co-founded Burbank DVD production house 1K Studios, which was later acquired by Toronto’s Cinram.

WorldArts officially launched in early February, though the company held its first promotional event during last month’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

WorldArts sponsored an event called Quantum Collective Southwest Invasion, inviting member bands to compete for a chance to perform at the music showcase in front of thousands of people and have their act live-streamed on WorldArts’ site. The company wound up selecting four bands to take the stage in Austin.

Another opportunity will give bands the shot to be showcased on KROQ-FM (106.7) show “Locals Only.”

As a result of these efforts, WorldArts now has 900 bands and artists from around the world on its site, with more events on the way to help get the word out.

Won said the company is finalizing its monetization strategy, though he noted several brand partnerships are set to be announced in coming months.

WorldArts also plans to launch a crowdfunding component allowing fans to donate money to bands, with the company taking a small cut. Another monetization option includes charging bands for advanced analytics on the people visiting their profiles, though WorldArts does plan to give artists some data for free.

WorldArts, founded and backed by Larry Underwood, who also owns Culver City brand development and marketing firm LCI Group Ltd. Inc., is also trying to patent a data-mining algorithm that gathers data from social media accounts of fans using the site as well as information about how those users engage with each artist on its platform.

Won said WorldArts plans to share this data with bands in order to help them better understand their audience.

“We’ll hopefully be able to keep it where artists aren’t charged for anything,” he said.

Rubicon Expands

Rubicon Project, an automated online ad platform, announced an agreement last week to buy online intent marketing business Chango Inc. for $122 million, mostly in stock.

Toronto’s Chango will give Rubicon the ability to target advertisements based on a website user’s intent, which is inferred from search engine entries or the content a user is viewing. Intent marketing is a lucrative revenue stream for search engines such as Google.

Chango takes the technology behind intent marketing and offers it to the company’s customers without search engine partnerships. Search engines such as Google pioneered intent marketing and have dominated this kind of advertising with products such as AdWords, but Chango now competes with them.

“A lot of dollars have been focused on search to date,” said Frank Addante, Rubicon’s chief executive. “We are now able to take this technology and more dollars away from search.”

Chango’s technology uses publishers’ data to learn how users came to their websites and what content they view. That technology will give Rubicon’s customers another way to sell their advertising inventory.

“You might search for something on a search engine, but you’re likely to land on a publisher that uses Rubicon,” said Addante. “Fifty percent of the top 100 websites are customers of our platform.”

Top publishers have shied away from selling their ad inventory for intent marketing because of the low price they often receive from search engines.

However, Rubicon believes there is opportunity in serving premium websites and advertisers.

“Our belief is that dollars will move to premium marketplaces,” Addante said.

Rubicon’s focus on premium websites has helped drive up the average price of ads on its platform, from 36 cents per thousand views in 2013 to 67 cents in 2014.

Some of Rubicon’s premium customers include Pangea Alliance, a programmatic advertising partnership formed in mid-March by Guardian News and Media Ltd., Cable News Network, Financial Times Ltd. and Thomson Reuters, with some ad inventory from Economist Newspaper Ltd.

For its part, Chango’s customers include more than 60 Fortune 500 advertisers. According to the Technology Fast 50 list published by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., the company’s revenue grew almost 70,000 percent over the past five years.

Addante said the deal will likely close in the next 10 to 20 days. Chango’s 150 employees will remain in Toronto.

Staff reporter Omar Shamout can be reached at oshamout@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263. Staff reporter Garrett Reim also contributed to this column.

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