Andy Chatterley // MUSO Founder
Interview by Alyssa Schmidt
Where did the idea to start MUSO come from?
The idea for MUSO came about in late 2009, when an album I was working on started leaking about 2 weeks before the release date. I embarked on the painstaking task of manually trying to find the leaks and issue DMCA notices to cyberlockers and torrent sites. I realized that there was no real solution out there to help me remove the illegal files. The record company spoke to the industry bodies who couldn’t really help us with a workable solution and the idea for MUSO was born. The vision is to create a quick and seamless way for rights holders to remove their illegally shared content online.
In your opinion, how is online piracy a problem and why is MUSO the best way to fix it?
The debate about piracy is long and varied and can be viewed from both sides. There is merit in both arguments, bands can certainly benefit from it at a certain point in their careers. However MUSO offer the rights holder the ability to take control of piracy and choose to leave the files up or remove them.
A record company invests in a variety of people and companies when they sign an artist to record an album. The studio, engineer, producer, mastering house, artwork design, promo team, radio plugger etc etc etc etc. It is an expensive business and if people don’t pay to enjoy the music and steal it , then at the end of the day there simply won’t be the money to invest in this process and new recording artists of tomorrow will be the ones who will ultimately suffer.
For the vast majority of album releases profit margins are currently either non existent or very slim and so MUSO provides the rights holders with an ability to remove the illegal files very quickly and easily if that it was they want to do and hopefully drive traffic to licensed partners.
Is MUSO proactive or reactive? How does it do one or the other?
Generally it is proactive. We actively search 24/7 looking for illegal files the moment that they have been uploaded and facilitate our clients with the ability to remove the file as soon as possible, hopefully before people have started to download it. Obviously if a record label adds their artist or release to MUSO after it has leaked then we react to the situation by finding the illegal files and facilitating removal.
Why is MUSO so effective?
We are scanning over 2 billion webpages 24/7 looking for illegal files on behalf of our clients. Our technology is very far reaching and our algorithm matches files and locates them. Our simple dashboard technology then allows the client to see the list of files found, review and remove them (if required) with one click.
Many bands have openly told their fans to illegally download their music, as long as they buy merchandise and come to shows. How do you feel about that?
It is not really my place to get into that argument, there is no question in my mind that this can be a good thing depending on the career path that the artist is taking. We just make it easier to deal with the problem if the label or artist wants to remove the illegal copies.
MUSO is now in over 15 countries. Why is it important for online piracy to be handled on a global scale?
MUSO actually works with right holders from all over the world. The internet is, relatively speaking, borderless. Torrents, cyber-lockers and streaming sites are located in many different countries, so we are actually global.
Is MUSO making progress in eliminating online piracy?
It is an ongoing ever changing process, but yes we are. We help our clients to deal with millions of illegal files, streams and links each month
Do you believe that is has been impactful?
Yes, it is hugely successful. We can see direct correlations between sales and illegal copies removed. It appears to be especially successful in helping releases maintain sales figures after the impact of singles promotion has died down. Having robust anti-piracy in place seems to result in a longer shelf life of releases, presuming their is interest in a release in the first time. It also stands to reason that if you make it impossible or very difficult to download something for free, if you want it, you will then end up buying it or streaming it through a licensed service where the label and artist can generate revenue.
How do you think MUSO is affecting the music industry in a positive way?
For a long time rights holders didn’t know how to deal with the problem of illegal file sharing. MUSO puts them back in control and gives them the power to remove the illegal files if they so desire. So we are empowering our clients with the ability to monitor and remove illegal files.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We are very proud of what MUSO is achieving. There are so many people further down the music industry food chain whose livelihoods have been decimated as a direct result of dwindling sales and music piracy. There are so many recording studios, mastering houses, pr firms, video production companies etc etc who have gone our of business. If the industry doesn’t adopt good anti-piracy strategies this knock on effect will continue. It is not only the artist who suffers. MUSO came about from trying to solve a problem that the music industry faced and indeed is very much still facing, and it is very exciting that we are seeing tangible and measurable effects on sales, and the ongoing fight against online piracy of our clients work.
What would you say has been the most difficult part of your career for you all personally and collectively?
As well as co-founder of MUSO, I am a record producer and song writer. Indeed this was indirectly how MUSO came in to existence in the first place. I have been very lucky to work on some really successful records and been Grammy nominated and am having a good run of it. I think the most difficult thing in this industry to always believe in yourself and find the ability to keep on going through the not so positive times – to quote Churchill; “Never, Never, Never give up!”
How did you, or do you continue to, overcome these struggles?
I don’t really face this anymore very often – I think when you go through something enough times you automatically overcome the problem in the same way you successfully did so in the past.
What is the ‘highlight’ of your career so far?
Many different ones along the way, from a songwriter / producer perspective hearing Kylie perform the songs we recorded with here at her London O2 show. was pretty special. From a MUSO perspective, it’s almost daily when a new label comes on board and realizes that their is something they can do about piracy!
What is the one dream the moment at which point either personally or collectively you would be able to say yes I’ve achieved this, I’m living my dreams?
Never feeling like I am going to work and I love what I do. If you can love what you do then you are doing alright in my opinion!