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UMG Licenses Catalog to Company Using Music to Help Dementia Patients

A new app called Vera will use Universal's catalog of songs to help people suffering from dementia to regain some cognitive abilities.

The Universal Music Group has licensed its catalog of titles to a company that uses artificial intelligence to choose music aimed at helping people suffering from dementia to regain some cognitive abilities, the company announced today (June 9).

Australian firm Music Health is launching a new app, called Vera, in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand that will include access to music from UMG’s suite of labels to create personalized music stations to help ease some of the effects of dementia, particularly BPSD — Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia — which displays as agitation, aggression, depression or confusion, and which affects 80% of those living with dementia, according to a press release. “Listening to personally significant music — all the noteworthy songs from our own life — is shown to effectively decrease the effects of BPSD helping to improve mood, cognitive function, motor functions and brain plasticity,” the release says.


“Research shows that music is much more impactful for people living with dementia when it holds meaning and is associated with moments from someone’s life,” Grace Meadows, campaign director for Music For Dementia, a UK-based advocacy organization that worked with UMG U.K. to produce a report on how music can be used in the health sector, said in a statement. “In our recently launched Power of Music report, which sets out how we can be harnessing the power of music more to support health and wellbeing, we emphasized the need for a personalized approach to embedding music in health and social care, and the Vera App helps carers to do that.”

Music Health worked for three years to develop the app, which included over 20,000 hours of observation of patients and analysis of effects, and worked with organizations like the Global Centre for Modern Aging, Dementia Australia, the Australian Department of Health and aged care organization Barossa Village to develop Vera. The app analyzes a person’s age, location of where they grew up and their reaction to different types of music in order to craft its music stations.

“We’ve built Vera to know and find the music that means the most and has the biggest effect for each person living with dementia,” Music Health co-founder Stephen Hunt said in a statement. “It acts like a music detective that seeks out tunes that they used to love a long time ago but may have forgotten about, which their carers may have never heard of, and their families may not even know.”

This license is the latest UMG initiative into the health and wellness space, which began with licensing agreements with companies like Peloton to use music within fitness apps, but has expanded into meditation apps like Calm and a partnership with MedRhythms, which uses music to help patients affected by cognitive and neurological issues caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, among others.

“From rigorous workouts to peaceful meditation to restorative sleep cycles, music is deeply integrated into numerous innovations promoting health and wellbeing,” Universal’s executive vp of digital strategy Michael Nash said in a statement. “Now, scientists are finding that music is also a powerful tool for helping those suffering from the effects of dementia and memory loss. At UMG, we are working with a wide range of companies to develop therapeutical applications of music and we’re proud to partner with Music Health on Vera to help improve the lives of so many around the world.”