How This Startup Is Turning Illegal Remixes Into Real Revenue

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Fill Ryabchikov
          

Matthew Adell, the former CEO of online dance-music store Beatport, estimates that the music industry loses out on hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue by failing to monetize the tens of thousands of unauthorized remixes that are ­floating around the Internet.

It is the reason he founded MetaPop, the remix rights-­management ­company that uses proprietary ­technology dubbed Remix Finder to scour the web and create an index of existing bootleg remixes for its 8,000-plus indie-label clients.

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“We’ve had clients who thought that their antipiracy company had taken all the remixes down,” says Adell. “And we can show them a report that there are still 10,000 out there.”

MetaPop is not in the business of policing bootleg remixes. “Other companies are already good at ­antipiracy measures,” says Adell. Rather, Remix Finder reports are used to show labels an untapped ­revenue stream. Once a label signs with MetaPop, he says, “we make sure they are properly ­monetizing all the ­existing remixes of their music and publish a list of songs they have the rights to that are precleared for remixing.”

It’s free for a label to sign up, and everyone is subject to the same ­revenue share from remixes: 70 ­percent goes to the original rights holder, 15 percent goes to the remixer and 15 percent goes to MetaPop. The split ­incentivizes bootleg remixers to become MetaPop users as well so they can legally collect money for their work. If they don’t, MetaPop still reaches out to services like YouTube to claim remixes on behalf of clients.

Since the company was founded in March 2016, Adell estimates MetaPop has legalized more than 20,000 bootleg remixes and built a catalog of approximately 200,000 songs for its clients — dance acts, but also rock, jazz, folk and Bollywood — that MetaPop users can legally remix. The company also has helped spawn new talent: Two remixers ­discovered through MetaPop ­competitions, Lorenzo Molinari and Reinier Zonneveld, have snagged label deals with, ­respectively, Soul Shift Music and Intec to release their own singles.

Adell says MetaPop has begun “experiments” with a ­handful of majors, including the Republic Records-distributed Cash Money and ADA, Warner Music Group’s ­independent sales, marketing and distribution network. “I would expect at least one of the majors, if not more, will be fully onboard by ­[midyear],” he says. And as remix phone apps become ­increasingly ­popular, Adell aims to expand MetaPop into that market as well, noting, “It’s an ­exciting time."

This article originally appeared in the March 18 issue of Billboard.