On this episode, we talk to Byta Founder Marc Brown about how he came to found Byta, why music metadata matters, and what it all means for the future of Hi-Fi audio and NFTs.
Byta is a music sharing app that lets artists, studios, and managers share, collaborate on, and promote secure music files before uploading them to streaming services. Marc is currently based in Stockholm, Sweden, though he is originally from Canada and spent many years in London working in A&R and artist promotion.
Are Labels Still Attention Aggregators?
As an industry veteran who started at an independent record label, Marc has seen a shift happen in terms of who is aggregating consumer attention in the music industry. In the past it was record labels, but according to Marc, music streaming has increasingly made their ability to aggregate consumer attention less and less relevant.
Certain label identities still exist in a lot of ways ... but there's been a shift in context. It is more about individual songs.... The way [DSPs] make it very easy to jump around ... means the idea of an album is less important, which means you're thinking less about a catalogue ... [and] who released that catalogue.... I don't know if [attention] has shifted anywhere.... I think it's just become less relevant to the way people find, listen, and discover new music.
What Byta's All About
What hasn't lost relevancy is the sharing of music, and that's what underpins Marc's vision for Byta, which, by the way, is the Swedish word for "exchange."
Byta is an app for sending and receiving digital audio in a clean, simple, and secure way, and it's for anyone who works with digital audio ... anyone from a bedroom artist to the largest record companies in the world. But we've also got ... tons of podcasters and people who do audiobooks.... It's a freemium product, so you can sign up and upload your audio and share it with the people you need to share it with.
According to Marc, what sets Byta apart from other file sharing platforms is that Byta is "built for music," meaning they "take advantage of audio files' unique properties" to accomplish three major tasks that are crucial for creators who need to share audio with collaborators, managers, labels, and more:
- Reading and writing file metadata
- Allowing for file conversions on the fly
- Providing fast, yet secure, streaming
Into the Metadata-verse
While "reading and writing file metadata" might seem like the least significant task that Byta is trying to accomplish, for Marc, it's arguably the foundation of everything. According to Marc, having the right metadata can help artists:
- Get discovered
- Get played
- Get paid
What's behind the scenes, all of that information is the metadata. Artists know now that they need to send the right information to whoever their aggregator is to get that music onto Spotify, to make sure that information is correct.... If somebody listens to your track and the information is good enough, but they [Spotify] don't know who to pay, Spotify can't get you your money back. So it's this idea of tying your piece of music to information about you.... Most people talk from release forward, but we like to think that this process starts very early, from the day you start moving tracks around, so learning to tag your files properly so people know the artist name, the album name — super important in synch — mood and all that stuff.