An online audio sharing platform and streamer, SoundCloud has acquired Musiio, an AI music curation company. With Musiio's team and technology, SoundCloud plans to strengthen its music discovery features. The terms of the deal are undisclosed.
Based in Singapore and founded in 2018, Musiio built an AI that can "listen" to music faster than any human possibly could, tag the audio and curate playlists. The technology helps predict which songs a listener would want to hear next, and if users spend more time on SoundCloud, then the company ultimately profits.
When TechCrunch last covered Musiio after its $1 million seed round, the company had just collaborated with its first public client, the Free Music Archive, a Creative Commons-like free music site developed by independent U.S. radio station WFMU. Musiio managed to surface a number of songs that had been "lost" in the sprawling catalog, helping one eight-year-old track double its plays within two days.
Nothing will ever replace the intimacy of a hand-picked track list on a mixtape, but the upside of AI curation is that it can surface lesser known songs and artists to a new audience. In one fascinating case, Spotify's AI popularized a rare b-side from the indie rock heroes Pavement called "Harness Your Hopes," which went on to become the band's most-played song on the platform -- even Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus didn't recognize the song when he heard it playing in a Portland bakery.
SoundCloud president Eliah Seton thinks that the capability of Musiio's AI will yield especially interesting results on a platform like SoundCloud, where anyone can upload music regardless of whether they're signed to a label or have a distributor.
"SoundCloud is a unique business. Its singular market position as both a music-streaming service for fans and an artists services business is unlike any other streamer. Meaning, it is the only platform that truly holds a direct relationship with artists and listeners," Seton told TechCrunch.
Seton didn't specify what kinds of new features fans can expect to see, but added that he hopes Musiio's technology will enable SoundCloud to "know what tracks are moving before anyone else."
Founded in 2007, SoundCloud claims it has over 300 million tracks from 30 million creators, which are streamed in 190 countries. Most recently, it raised $75 million from SiriusXM in 2020.