Bands and Brands: Universal Music Partners With Havas

Global Music Data Alliance Hopes to Create Insights and Revenue Streams

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Yannick Bolloré
Yannick Bolloré

Havas and Universal Music are launching the Global Music Data Alliance, a partnership both companies hope will create new revenue streams by mining the data provided by consumer behavior around Universal's artists.

The partnership has been driven by the Bolloré family: Vincent Bolloré became chairman in June 2014 of Universal's parent company, Vivendi (as well as being its biggest shareholder, with a 5% stake). His son Yannick Bolloré is chairman and CEO of Havas, whose biggest shareholder is also the Bollore Group. There has been frequent speculation that Mr. Bollore hopes to someday combine Havas and Vivendi. Both companies are based in France.

Dominique Delport, global managing director of Havas Media Group and chairman of Havas Media in France and the U.K., has been closely involved with the deal. He said, "There's been a will to foster a collaboration between Vivendi and Havas, and Yannick saw a way to provide fresh insights for clients."

Yannick Bolloré said in a statement, "This Global Music Data Alliance will allow our clients and other brands to further expand their common passion for music with fans, and create deeper experiences for them."

The alliance will be launched this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music, and Yannick Bolloré, during a cocktail party where Universal artist Nick Jonas will perform live.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

Universal Music is the world's biggest music producer, with artists including Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Adele, BB King, Cher, Elton John, Katy Perry, Pearl Jam, and U2.

Mr. Grainge said in a statement, "We want to continue to find new revenue and marketing opportunities for all of our artists by …supercharging our efforts to realize previously untapped revenues from consumer brands and other new business partners."

Universal already runs the Artist Portal, which measures music and video sales, streaming, social media, airplay, merchandising and ticket sales. The alliance hopes to use Havas' behavioral data to identify new marketing opportunities for brands and artists.

Mr. Delport said, "We are bringing in talent from both sides. Universal is already the leading music company in terms of data, and we are taking it to the next level by bringing in Havas data scientists and algorithm experts, merging the two worlds."

The alliance will also reach out to start-ups that specialize in developing technology.

It's unclear whether any brands have committed to being part of the Global Music Data Alliance; Mr. Delport wouldn't name any. He said, "The biggest trend in the industry is for brands and entertainment to work together to co-create content and services. We will have so much data that we can leverage for the purpose of better understanding the consumer and creating better experiences – there is so much to invent – we need to be bold enough to create new solutions."

The main hubs will be cities like Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris where Universal Music and Havas already have large operations. Mr. Delport said that Asia will be equally important.

"We understand that music is less siloed than before and consumers may jump from classic to hip hop," he said. "This isn't just about teens, it's the whole music world – and it's all very focused on business, on creating messages that are more and more relevant. We are not here to produce surveys."

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