Overheard #Midem 2014
Deezer Is Coming To America: Hires U.S. CEO

Lyor Cohen's 300 To Use Big Data As A&R Early Alert System With Twitter Deal

300This weekend Lyor Cohen revealed more about 300 at Midem where he gave a keynote interview with Tom Silverman. The primary new information seemed to be the Twitter deal for 300 that will help Twitter learn how to organize music data and give 300 an opportunity to take a highly granular look at musicians and music fans. At least part of the concept is to develop an approach to A&R that could conceivably indentify emerging artists at an early stage based on who's doing the tweeting.

Lyor Cohen and 300 co-founders Todd Moscowitz and Kevin Liles began revealing details about 300 back in the fall.

The big message at that stage was that some music industry heavyweights were starting a record label that at least one, Todd Moscowitz, called a "content company" signaling its hybrid, forward-facing nature.

The full contours remain to be seen but just as we're seeing in other industries, well-connected individuals with strong brands can strike out on their own combining the strength of their Rolodex with new digital tools and the power of partnering and outsourcing.

300 Navigates the Waters Between Tech Giants

300 is emerging in a context that gives them a lot of room to manuever. They're also navigating relationships between companies that are technically competitors with investments from Google, among others, and a new deal with Twitter.

At Midem Lyor Cohen made it clear that they weren't a Google startup:

"Google is just one of many investors. It’s up to us as a creating community to access and utilise this gigantic and wonderful platform to our benefit."

Apparently that was his lead-in to discussing 300's data deal with Twitter. Which is interesting given long-standing tensions between Google and Twitter over Google spidering Twitter data in addition to broader competitive issues. But sometimes even monstrous frienemies just have to suck it up.

The NY Times, summarized Cohen's explanation at Midem of the deal between 300 and Twitter:

"The partnership gives 300 full access to Twitter’s music data, including information not available publicly, like the location tags that identify from where a tweet was sent."

"In exchange, 300, which signs artists for recorded music, publishing and other deals, will help Twitter organize data and develop software that could be used by other artists, record labels or consumer brands. No money is changing hands."

"The goal, Mr. Cohen said, is to mine Twitter for the kind of signs that music scouts have always sought, like a flicker of excitement about a fledgling band."

For example:

"Imagine, for instance, a music executive getting an early lead on a hot new rapper by tracking the most influential Twitter users in the rapper’s local scene."

I'm not sure if Cohen gave that exact example but it makes sense as an early signal to A&R's seeking young artists to develop, which sounds like it's going to be a core focus of 300.

Come On, Lyor: "nobody knew who those fans were"

But Cohen also seemed to think it would help them learn more about music fans, stating:

“There was a time not so long ago when we sold music to retailers and they sold to fans, but nobody knew who those fans were...I’ve spent most of my life not knowing who the customer is. Isn’t that a shame?”

Which is quite a statement from a former show promoter and road manager for Run DMC. I mean, you never saw or interacted with fans at record stores or shows?

Oh, I get it. It's one of those overstatements big business people make that the press then treats as literal truth. Got it.

Overstatements aside this deal puts 300 in a very interesting position as they will be Twitter's first real data partners for music, an area which is incredibly popular on Twitter yet one in which Twitter's efforts to date have not gone so well.

One has to wonder what Google's role in this will be, given that they too are all about big data and are trying to do big things with music.

There's a lot that will play out in this unfolding narrative but the ultimate question remains:

Can they use all this money and data to find the next big star?

[Thumbnail image cover of "300" dvd, a movie about a bunch of hardcore, badasses going up against overwhelming forces and dying painfully in the end which inspired the name of the company 300 though probably not the painful death part.]


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is currently relaunching All World Dance. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.