Simplifying Complexity for Indie Labels . . .with Bruno Guez

Nov 3, 2022

Bruno shares his saga from playing the drums and enjoying international music, mixing songs and culture from Tunisia, France, and LA. Those facets led to studying at UCLA Ethnomusicology, becoming a DJ at KCRW, and building a record label in his living room. He shared work in place-based music and compilation records, in building the sonic architecture of hotels, vacations, and clothing brands — creating soundtracks to vacations and lifestyles. His own independent label became his inspiration to work to streamlining the complexity of running a music label. His work in Filemaker Pro and Salesforce for his own company became the early stages of the 2015 go-to-market for Revelator. He became a “product guy,” helping labels in many regions with streaming music processing and accelerating catalog valuation and fractionalization processes. We closed with discussions from Web3 — moving from an information-based to a value-based Internet — and new types of marketplaces and tokenized economies that will go beyond what artists can do today.

Guest: Bruno Guez, Founder and CEO, Revelator

Founder of Revelator, and a former Director on the Board of Merlin Network, the leading music rights agency, Bruno Guez brings over twenty-five years of experience as a seasoned digital music executive working with Chris Blackwell’ Island Records and Guy Laliberte’s Cirque du Soleil. With a strong vision to retool the creative industry, Bruno saw the opportunity to provide a game-changing technology platform for global rights administration and royalty management using blockchain technology, with a goal of enabling efficient and fully transparent reporting, real-time payments and innovative revenue streams for rights owners, creators, artists, producers, and publishers around the world.

Links:

  • URL: revelator.com
  • Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brunoguez/
  • Twitter: https://twitter.com/brunoguez @brunoguez
Transcript
Gigi Johnson:

Are

Gigi Johnson:

You presently running Revelator. Can you give us a 30 second -- before we deep dive into your background -- what in the world Revelator is?

Bruno Guez:

Sounds good. Yes. So I started a company, close to about a decade ago, coming from running a record label, and understanding the shift and digital transformation of the music business, from a B2B perspective, from a label's perspective. And, you know, back then, you know, 10 years ago, we didn't have hardly any software or tools for running a label managing digital IP, managing reporting and royalty obligations to rights holders. So I built a platform initially to help my business transform into digital business, and soon realized that there was everybody's pain point and problem around, you know, data and royalties and payments and analytics and understanding more transparency around, you know, streaming data, those kinds of things. So Revelator became a B2B platform that serves, you know, distributors, record labels, publishers, artists, management companies, who serve artists who serve rights owners.

Gigi Johnson:

And over the last, probably, if you're an artist listening to this, you probably want to nudge your small label to say, are you using Revelator? But that's, I wouldn't get to the 10 years, but I'm gonna drag it backwards in time because again, you're a fabulous ethnomusicology person from UCLA. But you were born in France, right? How did you when you were kid person? Were you a musician? Were you an entrepreneur who was selling lemonade to your friends? What was that person? Who was maybe you were not? So what were you doing when you were in high school? What was kind of the heartbeat of this that got started?

Bruno Guez:

Even before high school, right, I grew up playing drums at the age of nine, listening to a lot of music from around the world. You know, my parents are from Tunisia, I was born in France. And we grew up in Los Angeles. So listening to you know, Brazilian music or reggae, or, you know, Arabic music or no soul was, you know, what we would normally listen to at home, it wasn't very, you know, top 40 radio, it was, you know, Brazilian bossa nova and things like that. So, growing up, I was exposed to a lot of music from around the world. So I think culturally, you know, I was already you know, very much interested in discovering music from around the world, not just in my, my country, right. And that gave me already a perspective on life, a perspective on culture, a perspective on music, because I was seeking, you know, interesting rhythms from African music and Cuban music and Latin music, and I just loved flamenco music. I love culture. And I love music, ethnomusicology is exactly that is the anthropology of music culture, in a way, so

Gigi Johnson:

Were your parents musicians, because I must admit, . . my family I we had, you know, over-the-air radio and a few albums, and definitely wouldn't have had this exposure as a young person. Were your parents highly musical?

Gigi Johnson:

Not highly musical, but they love music. You know, even listening to Bob Marley when you're nine years old, that's already great exposure, you know. But I think once I moved to LA, with my parents, and initially we came for a summer vacation, and my, my mom just did not want to go back to Paris, you after going to Yosemite and, you know, seeing Los Angeles in this is in the late 70s. So not a lot of traffic, you know, a lot of great space. And it was a fantastic life to live, you know, the Sunshine State, in many ways, compared to LA, you know, Paris where, you know, it's cold, and it's gray. And it's, you know, not a great place to grow up in some ways. As a young person. The, the opportunity, you know, I saw no, I started playing keyboards and synthesizers, I was into electronic music. This is the early 80s. So I was very much interested in in the clash of culture and technology. And when I turned 18, I kind of stopped being in bands and playing. And I just didn't know that I wanted to be recording or performing artists that was not my calling. But I knew that I loved music and I loved culture, and I had to figure out the path forward.

Bruno Guez:

So, you know, I lived in Ohio for a while and I came across an album by Ali Jihad Racy, who was a professor at the UCLA ethnomusicology program and I said to my self

Bruno Guez:

This is what I want to do. I want to listen to ood. I want to listen to Arabic music, I want to play the song tour and learn about Iranian Persian classical music and things like that. So I applied I got in. And that was the beginning of my education in ethnomusicology. But it was so academic. And I was, you know, there was a disconnect for me between the world of academia and what was actually going on in world music in the 80s. So I wanted to be doing applied ethnomusicology, so I started DJing. And I started bringing, you know, African music and Arabic music and dance music and French hip hop, in the late 80s, you know, to clubs in LA, and I became a DJ, and from there, I became a radio host, on KCRW. And, you know, I loved the whole 90s You know, there was a lot of great music coming from, from around the world, from the UK, from Germany from Austria. So I was really good at spotting talent and, and developing, you know, an ear for music and saying, Oh, these two tracks go really well together. Let me put it on my show. And, you know, now I started discovering artists and broadcasting and promoting them. And that kind of became the incubation of my record label, in a way, because a lot of this music just did not have distribution in the early 90s. So I would, you know, call the artists and licensed the rights to use the music, and I learned about the music industry that way. Because out of my passion for putting music together and compilations. Today, we call them playlists, but back then we'd call them compilations of records rights, and we would put them put different songs on a CD and that became a compilation. So [that's how I got into the music industry.]

Gigi Johnson:

But you didn't have a business background? So was this kind of a trial-and-error, learning how to manage a label? Or did you find people that were then some of that wisdom for you?

Bruno Guez:racts. And, you know, back in:Gigi Johnson:

So, before that, were you making a full living doing this, or was this part of a portfolio of things that put food on the table?

Bruno Guez:areer DJing, which was around:Gigi Johnson:

So it's gonna say those of you who are listening to this on YouTube, we're gonna see your face light up. But those are listening for the audio only, you're missing Bruno's face totally light up when he is talking about this time period. You have this joy on your face talking about this.

Gigi Johnson:

So then you went and were part of someone else's label, but with your own sub-label brand continuing, correct?

Bruno Guez:ndependent label in the early:Gigi Johnson:

That's a polite way to put it.

Bruno Guez:

I'm trying not to, to use bad words.

Gigi Johnson:

For the, for those of you who this may not be your jam, the revenue per unit was low. And the detail and hassle per unit didn't necessarily change, right? So that you are having data coming in, for penny fractions, that you used to be dealing with much larger units and having lower volume, but still data per item. So that kind of adds to the complexity of the thing.

Bruno Guez:.:Gigi Johnson:

We'll swing back in the conversation. But let me let me sort of take a slightly different direction. You also -- before you go too deep into the current great work you're doing -- you also became more of a lifestyle curator too, right? So whether that was working with Cirque du Soleil, or working with a hotel chain, you were taking an avenue of bringing music to place.

Bruno Guez:

Sure.

Gigi Johnson:

How did that? How did that? I shouldn't say it's a left turn because it to me, it aligns wonderfully with your label. But how did you get into place-based music? And then why are you not still in place-based music?

Bruno Guez:ow, in the in, let's say it's:Bruno Guez:u know, this is going back to:Gigi Johnson:

And I think for a lot of people, I wanted to make sure that you talked about that, because a lot of people don't realize that entire space occurs. And I keep running into people who currently do this. And I'm always fabulously baffled that this is a an area of expertise, but it's a unique branded elements, that is the sonic architecture of a place, which I do find a really interesting business model that is much more lucrative at times than some of these other things that we're currently dealing with. So let me sort of bring you back to both what you're doing now, but maybe how in the world. So you traveled a lot. And then you've decided to move your family to Israel. And so you now are running this business that you've been incubating for 10 years, but from Israel, which is why we're talking it in the evening, your time. So how is it to be running this? How is it to be growing this? And how do you deal with this as an international company?

Bruno Guez:ays, you know, up until about:Gigi Johnson:

So you've already talked about that you started as a drummer and enjoying music, and weren't the tech guy. So, but you taught yourself how to be using the early Apple Computer. Are you now the tech guy? How did you become the tech guy? Do you have a battalion of tech people that make you the tech guy? 'Cause a lot of people there's a, there's a tech underbelly underneath what they did, or they were, you know, taking apart appliances in their parents' home or, or something. How have you become the tech guy?

Bruno Guez:ay. You know, fast forward to:Bruno Guez:

And from the moment I started developing the tooling, I obviously had already the experience and understanding metadata structure and rights information and contracts, you know, data models and those kind of things. So it was actually pretty easy for me. You know, it was actually me applying myself in V2 kind of way. I did it before, it was my own pet project. But now I need it to be a prod . . . you know, a product that other people could use, that to kind of create some type of standards around metadata for how do you describe rights. How do you describe release information, track level information, artists level information, those kinds of things.

Bruno Guez:le releasing it, and that was:Bruno Guez:

Yeah, once you've done it, and you've learned the mistakes that you should have done differently. The next time you get the opportunity, you want to do things correctly, and I think we've done a really good job now, at doing that.

Gigi Johnson:

Let me point to current and forward. So looking on your website, I was kind of tickled when you look at your products, you've got a category for Web 2 products, which implies then that there's Web 3 products in the pipeline, and also that you've got the ability to be offering business intelligence tools to go with all of this, can you talk a little bit about the without giving away company secrets, the sort of forward direction and where you're inspired to take this group of B2B clients and tool sets and people all over the world? What's the web three side of this? And then what do you what are you thinking and doing an offering with the business intelligence side of this?

Bruno Guez:

Sure. So, you know, streaming business models provides two data sets, financial data, which comes monthly and consumption data, which comes daily. So for the majority of of, you know, artists, and labels, and, and distributors, the need to understand the daily consumption, the usage pattern of you know, where your songs are streaming across which markets and platforms is important to helping inform marketing decisions, and be able to understand is my, you know, single really taken off in a certain market or things like that. And it really becomes a data infrastructure problem, because there's so much data, when you're processing 3 billion streams per month or more, or 6 billion streams, or, you know, the some of our companies are doing about 80 to 200 million streams a month, individually. And it becomes a challenge to deal with that amount of data coming from many different sources, different platforms, Spotify, Apple, Deezer, YouTube, etc, TikTok. And the volume of data is just unmanageable for most companies. So streamlining, all those, automating the whole process of collecting, aggregating, normalizing, ingesting, de-duplicating, matching, all the things you have to do, so that you could just look at a dashboard and understand what's going on. And your artists can understand where they're performing or not. Yeah, I think what's interesting with that is if you can, you know, accelerate the pace at which people get information about the performance of their assets, it becomes really interesting, not just for marketing purposes, or financial management, and understanding how to run a business, and how to make investment decisions into your artists, how to provide advances to those artists. But also, part of what excites me now is around automating the whole valuation of catalogs, so that any of our customers can understand the value of their work in real time. Because what I found is that it's really hard to gather all the data, share all the data with potential buyers, or lenders or people who want to finance no buying assets or catalog. So a lot of what drives me is can I accelerate payments? And can I automate the understanding for the rights owner? Even if it's free, or 33% share of the song, do you know the value of that song? You know, is there a way that you can understand how much the your third of that song is worth? And can you access, you know, a market where you can offer fractional ownership of that? Or can you sell or list those royalty streams, to potential buyers? And I think that's where the markets really think of . . .

Gigi Johnson:

You could also subdivide your portfolio too, right? So, so someone can see before they are buying some kind of a representation of the financial elements, and that you could also take that sub database and be able to move it to a new owner or a new investor, I wou ld think that were options here.

Bruno Guez:

Absolutely, and the whole idea of creating baskets of songs, that comes with their cash flows, and their valuation metrics, you know, and making that more of a seamless user experience, so that you can accelerate underwriting and then you can share that information with potential interested party will allow independents to easily, you know, more easily sell or, or fractionalize their catalogue and get financed or get funded or access working capital. And I think the, the majors, you know, have whole teams, you know, analyzing catalog purchasing, Neil Young and Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, for $500 million. But the independents just don't have those tools, nor do they have those opportunities. And I believe that what we'll see over the next five years is the growth of the independents will continue. And as a result, the growth of financial services for funding independence will continue. And the better the tools the independents have, then the more likely they'll be able to understand that they also have opportunity for liquidity and for exits.

Gigi Johnson:

So my last question is then a future direction which is kind of the Web 3 side of the house as to sort of rethinking the connective tissue. I'm assuming that's some of your heartbeat going forward. And how are you looking at Web 3 opportunities? And is there anything you can share with us that you were tinkering with this in the, in this regard?

Bruno Guez:

Sure. So we've been developing, you know, Web 3 infrastructure for four years, initially around a digital wallet for creators, where they could manage their rights and their royalty flows and payments. We've connected you know, streaming, royalty data from the Revelator platform to those wallets so that any rights holder would receive their share of the money flow, and could even request advances against their future cash flows, based on the consumption data. So we've done that. The interesting part that I'm seeing now that obviously, the music industry is interested in NFTs, they're interested in digital collectibles. And when I look at the Web 3 space, I look at three different types of marketplace opportunities. I look at digital collectibles. I look at licensing into Web 3 and Metaverse are gaming applications. And the third part is around the securitization, or the digital securities, you know, selling IP [Intellectual Property] or fractional IP to marketplaces that are compliant and regulated, and that can offer tokenized securities for music IP. And I think, you know, when we look at the next five years, you know, the streaming landscape will look a little different, because I think there'll be new marketplaces, new types of marketplaces that open up, you know, more direct to fan, and tokenized economies around communities and fan powered communities that will go beyond just what artists are able to do today, which is earn money from streaming, I think this streaming income will just be an input into the value of IP that can be monetized through a digital asset across different types of marketplaces, whether it's a collectible, or licensing your song into no Decentraland, or The Sandbox or, you know, other types of Web 3 properties . . .

Gigi Johnson:recording this in October of:Bruno Guez:

Completely. So I do, you know, love the infrastructure of Web 3, I think we're moving from a, you know, a web to internet, which was based around the flow of information. You know, it was an information based internet. And I think now we're moving into a value based internet, where value gets exchanged between parties. And I think we'll provide a lot more interesting opportunities around engagement around direct fans and direct to fan and direct to collector and community building. I think that's really exciting.

Gigi Johnson:

Well, Bruno, we've been talking for a while, it's been great talking. Is there anything we have not talked about that you'd like to cover before we wrap up?

Bruno Guez:enced this digital, you know,:Gigi Johnson:

So if people are also excited about this, and would like to reach out to you to connect with you and your company, how would you like them to reach out and who would you like to reach out?

Bruno Guez:

So I think Revelator.com is a good place to start, you can contact us from the website. And if you're interested in music, IP, whether it's from the seller side, or the buyer side, or if you're a record label, that's looking for better tools to help you understand the value of your work and monetize your IP or a distributor looking to launch a service and create the DIY self distribution model. I think we're a great company to work with.

Gigi Johnson:

Thank you so much for joining us, Bruno. Have a good evening as you're already deep into your evening and appreciate this great conversation.

Creative Innovators Podcast

Creative Innovators with Gigi Johnson

Architecture, Mars, and VR . . . with Alfredo Muñoz

Questions: How do we design for extreme conditions and resource challenges?  Is that for Mars or...

Out on a Limb   . . . .with Darryl Hurs

Question: How can you build a rich creative life based on referrals and going out on a limb?...

Music + India . . . .plus Ritnika Nayan

Question: How do you connect independent artists and music business in India as a young woman?...

Building Campfires . . . with Arturo O’Farrill

Question: How can you build campfires, mixing music and social activism? Guest: Arturo O'Farrill,...

Asking for What You Want . . . with Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Question:  What can you do with focus on drive in both toys and STEM?  And what can a persistent...

Related Episodes and Blog Posts

Architecture, Mars, and VR . . . with Alfredo Muñoz

Architecture, Mars, and VR . . . with Alfredo Muñoz

Questions: How do we design for extreme conditions and resource challenges?  Is that for Mars or Earth? Guest: Alfredo Muñoz, Architect; Founder; Onteco; Founder, ABIBOO Studio; Chair for Memberships of the Technical Committee of Space Architecture at the American...

read more
Out on a Limb   . . . .with Darryl Hurs

Out on a Limb   . . . .with Darryl Hurs

Question: How can you build a rich creative life based on referrals and going out on a limb? Guest: Darryl Hurs, Owner/CEO, Indie Week; Managing Director, Downtown Canada; Director, Market Development, Canada, CD Baby; Educator, Harris Institute In this episode,...

read more
Music + India . . . .plus Ritnika Nayan

Music + India . . . .plus Ritnika Nayan

Question: How do you connect independent artists and music business in India as a young woman? Guest: Ritnika Nayan, Managing Director, Downtown India; Owner: Music Gets Me High Ritnika Nayan shares stories about her passion: helping indie artists succeed and make...

read more
Building Campfires . . . with Arturo O’Farrill

Building Campfires . . . with Arturo O’Farrill

Question: How can you build campfires, mixing music and social activism? Guest: Arturo O'Farrill, Founder, Artistic Director, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance; Professor, Global Jazz Studies, The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and...

read more
Asking for What You Want . . . with Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Asking for What You Want . . . with Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia

Question:  What can you do with focus on drive in both toys and STEM?  And what can a persistent Shirin Salemnia do? Guest: Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia, Founder and CEO, WhizGirls Academy and PlayWerks Shirin shares a passionate tale of drive, success with extreme...

read more
Making Sense Backwards…with Jeremy Yuille

Making Sense Backwards…with Jeremy Yuille

Question: How can life make better sense backwards? How can we weave together arts, spatial sound, architecture, and organizational change? Jeremy Yuille, with Meld Studios in Melbourne, Australia, works with organizations to transform how they work in the face of...

read more