Warner Music Sees the Future of Streaming, and It Is Playlists…

Warner Music Group Has Acquired Digital Company X5

Warner Music Group has acquired Sweden-based digital compilation company X5 Music Group.

Last month, the CEO of Warner Music Group confirmed his company’s growing control over streaming playlists.  That renewed fears of an upcoming era of playlist ‘playola,’ with three major labels controlling critical lists on platforms like Spotify.  “In the past it was about radio play, weekly charts and sales — now it’s a minute-by-minute battle for people’s time and attention,” WMG chief Stephen Cooper told Billboard.

“So playlisting is one of the big reasons why artists need record labels today.”

Now, Warner is consolidating its stronghold with the purchase of a leading playlist expert.  X5, a company that first cut its teeth on iTunes, is an independent, digital-only playlisting label first founded in 2003.  Initially, the company licensed and curated classical repertoire, including successful playlisting around recognizable melodies and composers.

These days, the company specializes in licensing pre-existing music for compilation albums and genre-specific music to create playlists across streaming and download services, with a knack for drawing greater listening around well-crafted lists.  The company’s management team is currently led by CEO and co-founder Johan Lagerlof ,who will continue to manage the company even after the acquisition.  “Our business is to increase the value of catalog music by putting it in the right context,” Lagerlof relayed.  “We are excited to be working with the amazing catalog of Warner Music Group and look forward to harnessing our scalable business model to increase its value.”

Though Lagerlof is still leading the company ,it will be overseen by Warner Music’s Tim Fraser-Harding, president of global catalog and recorded music. “X5 is an incredibly exciting company that has done great things in the digital space… this team, led by Johan, has an impressive ability to curate specific genres of music and create engaging and accessible digital products and playlists,” said Fraser-Harding.

“We hope to help X5 grow its business in the years ahead and believe that we in turn will benefit hugely from its experience.”

As of yet their have been no financial details disclosed, though it is thought that Warner Music Group may have scooped them up for a low price tag.  Once upon a time, X5 had a pile of funding, with nearly $22 million according to Crunchbase.  Despite that sizable funding, a fresh round hasn’t come in since 2011, with industry chatter focused on the company’s rough existence.

6 Responses

  1. FarePlay

    So all this destruction caused by Spotify and the rush to interactive music streaming could have been avoided?

    For years we’ve been saying that most listeners don’t want to be bothered figuring out what to play and being overwhelmed with choices.

    We’ve allowed an over financed bunch of music amateurs disrupting, no destroying, what was left of a fragile business.

    Like carrion feeding off of what’s left. My advice to Roger Daltry. Take your music off of Spotify and bring that sucker down.

    • TheFuturist

      Stop living in the past. Streaming is the future whether you like it or not. With regards to playlists, I could care less about them. I grew up an album listener and that’s not going to change now. Long live Spotify. The CD is dead. Face the facts.

      • FarePlay

        Then you’ll be there for Spotify’s crowd funding campaign if they run out of money before they can float an IPO?

        One has to wonder if they’re so clearly the future why they haven’t been able to pull the trigger.

  2. ZigZag

    Spotify is the devil.. or so it seems… also aren’t Warner and their friends all in bed with Spotify .. so of course they’re going to love it .. it’ll provide them with an extremely comfortable retirement..

  3. streamhear

    Surely, an indication that Mr, Warner is grasping at straws again. Just a matter of time for all the major labels. Stay independent!


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