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SoundCloud buys AI that claims to predict hit songs

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AI is the new A&R

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

SoundCloud has acquired audio AI company Musiio, which makes tech that can “listen” to new music and purportedly identify the hits. The acquisition, announced Tuesday, is meant to help SoundCloud sort through its immense library of amateur music and will “become core to SoundCloud’s discovery experience,” the company said in a statement.

As DIY music distribution platforms like SoundCloud lower the barrier to entry for amateur artists and flood platforms with new music, identifying and promoting the good stuff has become even more challenging. SoundCloud claims that Musiio’s tools can quickly sift through countless hours of (mostly bad) music and pick out the songs that have patterns and characteristics that correlate with chart-toppers.

“Acquiring Musiio accelerates our strategy to better understand how that music is moving in a proprietary way, which is critical to our success,” SoundCloud President Eliah Seton said in a statement.

Though a far cry from the smoky clubs and A&R legends of old, AI is becoming an increasingly critical part of finding up-and-coming artists. Music distribution platform Tunecore announced in February that it is partnering with LA-based music startup Fwaygo, which uses AI to match listeners with creators. Meanwhile, competing DIY music distributor DistroKid has an AI bot named Dave that reviews tracks and ranks qualities like “danceability” and “speechiness.”

SoundCloud spokesperson Cullen Heaney declined to disclose how much the company paid for Musiio, but the Singapore-based startup was reportedly valued at $10 million last year. Musiio CEO Hazel Savage and CTO Aron Pettersson will stay on board, becoming SoundCloud’s VPs of music intelligence and AI and machine learning, respectively.