The world of production music is often overlooked in broader discussions of the music industry. But this branch of the music business is a sleeping giant, one that’s global, large, lucrative, and growing.
It requires specific, flexible, and scalable tech to make it thrive, software that can connect farflung markets, search lightning fast, and work–even across competitor lines–as efficiently as possible. Harvest Media has created these tools, tailored to both small nimble libraries and major international players. It is the backend that powers one of the music business’s often overlooked, consistently profitable sectors.
Founded and based in Sydney, Harvest Media sprang from a team of serial tech entrepreneurs Angus Hayes, Roland Hélène, and Hamish Diver. Hayes created Mule Music, Australia’s first B2C download service to sign distribution agreements with major labels in Australia. Hélène and Diver were the technologists who delivered the framework. The platform drew in many new opportunities, but was challenged by the arrival of cashed up music juggernaut iTunes. The trio used their first mover advantage and deep knowledge of digital music assets to leverage what they had built in the production music market.
This evolution was sparked by a passing conversation with a neighbouring business. It turned out to be the pivot both businesses needed. The neighbors were pushing carts of CDs down the hall every other day. The Mule Music trio asked why, and discovered their neighbors were not alone in the production music market, where CDs lined shelves of music libraries at broadcasters, agencies, and production companies.
“Every Monday and Wednesday, their staff would walk down the hall with all these CDs. Eventually they’d come back and the trolley was empty. We wondered if we could make the process digital,” Hayes recounts. The trio, now known as Harvest Media, proposed building something to ditch the cart and mailings forever. “We evolved the whole workflow into a global digital service. Thanks to their open perspective and foresight, we landed early relationships with a lot of the better music companies around the world.” They quickly found themselves getting phone calls from broadcasters including Newscorp’s Foxtel, who were all quickly moving to digital music and asset workflows.
These relationships helped Harvest Media build a best-in-class set of tools, a global network of publishers and subpublishers, and key integrations with major music service providers, from Soundmouse, Adrev, and BMAT to FUGA and Shazam. Guided by the needs of their customers, big and small, Harvest Media developed a model flexible yet granular enough to support specific ins and outs of production music and sync.
Production music and music for picture demand speed, discoverability, and software that can handle everything from mom-and-pop shops to international enterprise clients. Clients include 300 companies in just about every territory you care to name globally, such as Warner Chappell Production Music, Anthem Entertainment (Cavendish, Jingle Punks, 5Alarm), Bertelsmann Music Group, West One Music Group, Sony ATV, License Lab, Videohelper and many more.
Harvest Media offers a freemium version to smaller companies with only a few thousand files, while whitelabeling and developing custom tools for large libraries or companies. “One of the first questions we get asked with a new engagement is ‘What’s your clip?’ the fees some providers charge when a transaction goes through,” Hayes says. “The answer is simple: zero. We are a PaaS or SaaS provider, so you pay for the software tools you use, and we don’t profit from your sync success.”
Instead of fees, Harvest Media has focused on user experience to drive business, boosting efficiency in storage and search, reducing file duplication and keeping content close to potential users to power search results in a flash. It has a range of search tools, including AI-based audio similarity search. It has integrations, even with competitors, to ensure no one has to double-handle tracks or leave their preferred workflow to find music. It’s made it as easy as possible to get a complex, farflung business community work together simply.
The technology that makes this possible has helped the sector keep pace with ever-faster production cycles and leaner budgets. Publishers and libraries need to protect their copyrights, support their composers, and maximize the value of their catalog. They look in every corner of the globe for potential partners and subpublishers to help them do that. Harvest Media, thanks to its global client base, can help connect publishers with new partners in new markets. “Harvest Media in many ways reflects the impact of digital on what was once a sleepy person-to-person network, a bit of an insider business that only those involved paid much attention to,” Hayes explains.
“Production music is a bit of an unsung hero in the music business, but “it’s a multi-billion dollar global sector with thousands of players around the world,” notes Hélène. “We help our clients maintain and grow the value of their libraries and catalogs. We help level the playing field.”
“We’ve created an ecosystem where composers can create relationships with publishers, who in turn can deliver deep into video creation platforms, the streaming and broadcast environments where video content for short, medium and long form is being created. In other words, any piece of music that you hear in a TV ad, webisode, TV show or motion picture has probably been delivered to the edit suite by Harvest Media,” Diver muses. “Next time you Shazam a track whilst watching your favorite TV show, the results mean that we’ve done our job getting copyrights to edit suites, DSPs and recognition services globally.”