Georgia State grad Robert Hatcher recognized an inherent problem in the music industry while building his previous startup, Soundcollide.
The home recording studio startup was designed to help artists work on songs from different locations. “Music is collaborative,” Hatcher told Hypepotamus. “But we saw from our studio that publishing rights were a big point of failure.”
Musicians, agents, and labels have traditionally struggled to figure out the equity stakes associated with each published song. That process is further complicated by new streaming platforms and the need to navigate royalty collection agencies.
That complicated structure has added up to some serious monetary losses for musicians. Billboard estimated that lost royalties totaled upwards of $250 million in 2019.
Hatcher and his co-founders decided to tackle the problem head-on with a “pivot into publishing.”
Aurign, which is also being built in Atlanta, is an automated music publishing platform that creates the required split sheets for artists. The goal is to streamline how royalties are paid on a song-by-song basis.
Hatcher describes it as “a cap table for every song.”
The platform handles sending information to the royalty collection agencies and each published song has a “proof of ownership” record to ensure everyone gets paid.
Hatcher is working alongside co-founder/COO Kevin Taylor Jr. and Co-Founder/Head Of Business Development and Publishing Mike Norris to bring Aurign to more artists.
Why MusicTech Now
It is an important time to be creating such a MusicTech solution, said Hatcher. Before streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, artists needed help with production, marketing, and distribution. But with physical CDs a thing of the past and social media as the great individual PR machine, the cost of making music has gone down significantly.
“Artists are more autonomous today, but they lack the skills to keep up with royalties,” Hatcher added.
It’s been a busy few years for the MusicTech startup. After winning the Business Plan Competition at Rice University in summer 2020, the team is now focused on closing its seed round and expanding its team.
Hatcher is also focused on what NFTs could mean for the future of music streaming and music ownership. While the NFT space is “messy” now, he sees it as an automated revenue distribution method that could eliminate the wait time artists experience when trying to get paid from streaming services.