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Playlists.net Acquired By Warner Music Group

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In early July we reported exclusively that Spotify community and playlist sharing site Playlists.net was in acquisition talks, with one suitor — a prominent music industry company — in the lead. Well, today comes official confirmation that the UK startup has indeed been acquired by WEA, the artist and label services company owned by major record label Warner Music Group. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed.

According to the official announcement, Playlists.net will continue to operate as a stand-alone company based in Newcastle, England and run by founder and CEO Kieron Donoghue.

In a statement, Donoghue says: “We were approached by WEA earlier in the year to discuss ways in which we could collaborate and it became apparent that there was much to be gained by us joining forces. What’s really exciting is that WEA have committed to support Playlists.net as an independent platform, invest in its future and grow the team to take advantage of new opportunities in the streaming ecosystem. There is a huge appetite in WEA to further embrace streaming, develop new concepts and really innovate in this growing sector.”

Founded in 2009, Playlists.net had raised a rather modest £600,000 from various private backers, including Mark Pearson (Markco Media), and Steve Brown, Dave Brown, Malcolm Cowley and Paul Fellows (the original team behind www.Buy.at, which in 2008 was sold to AOL for $125m and subsequently offloaded to Digital Window.)

Originally named ShareMyPlaylists, the UK startup was one of the first companies to jump head-first into the Spotify ecosystem (and before it was clear Spotify could sustain an ecosystem), providing users with a place to upload and share playlists. It subsequently added music discovery features, including launching a playlist generator powered by EchoNest, in addition to iOS, Android and Spotify apps that emphasised consuming music curated by its core users.

As of July this year, Playlists.net claimed 1 million users per month, amounting to 4.5 million “listening sessions” per month, and 1 billion Spotify streams per year. As we wrote at the time, depending on which way you slice it, that’s a not-insignificant dent in the music curation space, especially for a rather moderately funded company.

Why would a major record label buy a Spotify community and playlist sharing site?

The answer lies in both the relative success of Playlists.net itself and a recent industry change that means streaming music now counts towards the official music charts in the UK.

Playlists.net is thought to have compiled the biggest database of independent Spotify playlists, so there’s a potential opportunity for a major record label to leverage the platform to ensure playlists featuring their acts are more prominently promoted, or that acts they’ve signed feature on the most popular playlists.

In addition, thousands of curated playlists uploaded and listened to gives you all sorts of interesting data, which could be leveraged by a record label’s A&R and marketing departments as a signalling tool for spotting up and coming trends related to its own artists or further afield.