Marc Geiger, the head of music for William Morris Endeavor who co-founded Lollapalooza and was an early proponent of digital streaming, has personally invested an undisclosed amount in Audiam, a start-up that collects money from YouTube on behalf of music publishers and rights holders.
Geiger also agreed to advise Audiam, which has raised a total of $2 million since launching in June of last year. He joins a notable list of other investors in the New York company, including Jason Mraz, Jimmy Buffett, Brett Gurewitz, Scott Schreer, GSO Business Group, Bill Silva and Jonathan Siegel. Audiam is headed by former TuneCore founders Jeff Price and Peter Wells.
"I believe the new music royalty stream collection business is a good place to invest and take risk," Geiger told Billboard. "I think Jeff picked a smart market to go after and is historically a good signer. I see him a bit like Willard [Ahdritz, CEO and Founder] from Kobalt, who I like a lot."
Audiam leverages YouTube's platform to find and add advertising to user-generated videos that contain copyrighted music owned by its clients. From June through October, Audiam collected $600,000 from YouTube to distribute to its clients, according to Price.
Since October, Audiam has added a number of clients, including Imagem, Dolly Parton's publishing catalog Velvet Apple and Jimmy Buffett's publishing catalog Coral Reefer. This week, Audiam also announced it has added Victory Records and the Don Messer catalog. Altogether, Audiam currently represents 100,000 compositions, including songs by George Gershwin, Elvis Presley, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and Phil Collins, among others.
Geiger has been outspoken in his advocacy of streaming music business models. In his keynote talk at this year's Midem music conference, Geiger declared music downloads to be "dead" and that subscription music services could become a $54 billion to $135 billion business by 2030. He also predicted that advertising revenue, the source of most of YouTube's current revenue, could contribute $10 billion to $15 billion to the music industry within 15 years.
YouTube's model "fits right alongside on demand systems because it's simply the much bigger version of radio or MTV, and it is streaming," Geiger said. "It's just free to the consumer. It's huge and will only get bigger. And the advertising on it will get more sophisticated and more expensive."
Geiger has always been bullish on digital. In 1996, he co-founded ARTISTdirect with Don Muller. The company was among the first to help artists sell products online directly to fans, as well as market bands through its Ultimate Band List and other fan engagement efforts.
Geiger said he's made "a bunch of [personal investments] over the years...haven't made too much money, mind you, because the space was nascent, and I was always too early."