Blog Post

Guvera Gets UMG To Buy In To Its Dream Of Ad-Supported Music Downloads

Next year is shaping up to be an interesting one in terms of digital music. We’ll be able to see how much traction music video site Vevo ultimately gains, whether Google’s music search becomes ubiquitous, and possibly see Spotify launch here in the U.S. There will also be two new ad-supported music download services to choose from: Free All Music, which we profiled when it raised funding last month, and now Guvera, an Australia-based company that just inked a content-licensing deal with Universal Music Group (UMG).

First the big details: UMG didn’t take a stake in Guvera, but it will be getting a rev-share. Users create profiles around their interests and demographics on Guvera’s platform; brands also fill out similar profiles, then the company takes all the data and comes up with targeted matches. (A 25-year-old female searching for dance music, that likes cooking and fashion, for example, will be directed to tracks on a relevant brand’s custom channel). The brands pay every time a user in their targeted demo downloads a track; Guvera splits “a percentage” of that fee with UMG.

What’s not clear, are details on the kinds of ads users will see, or how Guvera will quantify the users’ interactions with the brands. Also up in the air, is whether the startup succeeded in getting any of the other big four labels to buy in. Other ad-supported services like SpiralFrog clearly crashed and burned, but a UMG source said the company would “continue to support” innovation in digital music distribution — provided that the platform and technology were “compelling” enough to get brands to buy in, and able to generate “real” revenue.

Guvera is slated to launch February 2010; the plan is for a global service, but it will roll out region-by-region. Founded in 2008, the company hasn’t said which regions will go live first, but it is letting people pre-register their profiles regardless of their country of origin.