GEMA Acquires Majority Interest in Song-Play Monitor SoundAware, Sets Sights on ‘Becoming a Powerful Digital Collecting Society’

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GEMA CEO Harald Heker. Photo Credit: Sebastian Linder

A little less than four months after reporting a record 2022 distribution, GEMA has acquired a majority interest in the Netherlands’ SoundAware Group – including song-usage monitor SoundAware.

The Berlin-headquartered collecting society emailed Digital Music News today about the buyout, the financial details of which haven’t been publicly announced. But SoundAware Group, besides encompassing the namesake song-play monitor, likewise operates an AI-powered media-mention monitor called RTV Monitor, the advert-intelligence-centered AdFact, and TRCKTrace, to name some.

Per the appropriate website, the latter offering screens “social media and (online) music platforms” in order to determine “where all live music events are being held and where your music is being played.” Then, the technology is said to “trace and identify” usages before reporting “back with metadata.”

Meanwhile, SoundAware proper (which has clients including Sabam and Buma/Stemra) specifically provides “analytical and tracking opportunities for broadcasted content on radio, television and mobile devices,” according once again to the relevant website.

Moving forward, SoundAware Group (and its approximately 50-person team) will continue operating independently as a subsidiary of GEMA, with founder Harold de Groot remaining aboard as managing director.

“We are convinced that the potential of our monitoring technology is far from exhausted,” de Groot said. “With GEMA as a strong partner, we want to develop new digital services for the music industry based on this technology and distribute them internationally.”

GEMA, for its part, emphasized the buyout’s perceived potential “to further enhance its licensing and distribution processes and expand its service offering” – steps that CEO Harald Heker billed as components of a wider strategy to render GEMA “a powerful digital collecting society.”

“By investing in a music identification pioneer,” communicated the 16-year GEMA head Heker, “we are adding an important key competence to our portfolio: digital music identification. The investment in a future-oriented technology is a decisive step for GEMA on the way to becoming a powerful digital collecting society.”

Needless to say, against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving AI landscape, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for the widespread implementation of other song-recognition and usage-analysis technologies in the approaching months and years. On the creative side, however, several industry companies and organizations are pushing for enhanced artificial-intelligence regulations and disclosures.

More immediately, companies including Audoo are utilizing proprietary song-recognition tools to monitor usages in public establishments like bars and restaurants as part of a broader push towards hard numbers and accurate data.