Streaming service Rhapsody International has taken an equity stake in electronic dance music licensing and distribution agent Dubset Media Holdings in exchange for a Series B investment of undisclosed size. The drop represents Rhapsody’s first-ever cash investment in another company.
Dubset operates three symbiotic services that help DJs distribute mixes legally. Its MixSCAN technology identifies audio content within long-form streams so that mixes can be licensed properly, while MixBANK provides DJs and venues with storage and reporting tools. TheFuture.fm is its consumer-facing site and mobile app, where EDM fans can listen to streams categorized by genre or mood. Based in New York with offices in Beverly Hills and London, Dubset says it hosts 200,000 mixes, and has been testing MixSCAN for two years.
Dubset CEO Bob Barbiere said its arrangement with Rhapsody comes with “a partnership inherent in the investment,” if not necessarily one that will be announced formally. The two appear to be preparing a content offering together, although Barbiere declined to give specific details; he said DJ content is “a tremendous vehicle for music discovery” and pointed to its usefulness for people creating their own playlists. In a statement, Rhapsody said more announcements concerning the tie-up are forthcoming. For the most part, streaming subscription services have been unable to host DJ-created content streams, mostly due to licensing issues.
Barbiere added that Dubset is in “late-stage discussions” with other streaming services that are territorial competitors with Rhapsody, but emphasized that Rhapsody’s investment does not affect its ability to partner with other companies in the sector. He said Dubset has always taken a “neutral and agnostic approach” in creating its content distribution platform. Among the company’s goals is to create a formal royalty structure for fractional pieces of music found in mixed and mashed-up content, while maintaining a sustainable rights-resolution path for DJs to monetize their work.
Founded in 2010, Dubset hasn’t disclosed how much it has raised in either its angel rounds or Series A and B rounds. Barbiere identified AVM Partners, a digital media investor with a Latin American focus, as the leader of its late 2013 Series A installment, and said Rhapsody led the new round.
Dubset recently introduced an embeddable music player utility for DJ-oriented content. Barbiere said the player is already in place on ArtistDirect, and the company is in the process of launching similar players for blogs and Facebook over the next month.
Rhapsody revealed last month that its subscriber base increased 63% year-over-year to 1.7 million worldwide, thanks in part to deals with mobile carriers such as Telefonica, E-plus and SFR.http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/digital-and-mobile/6041366/power-of-mobile-rings-rhapsody-back-to-growth-analysis The thirteen-year-old company’s service is branded as Napster in Europe, following a 2011 asset acquisition; Rhapsody was owned by RealNetworks from 2003 to 2010.
Despite jumpstarting its growth, Rhapsody still lags behind apparent market leader Spotify, which claimed more than 6 million paying customers worldwide among more than 24 million active users worldwide, most of whom use its free ad-supported version. Others in the field, including Rdio and newcomer Beats Music, haven’t released subscriber numbers.