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There’s a real appetite for western songs among Japanese and Korean record label A&Rs and music supervisors. Yet, for western songwriters and producers landing a song placement in these markets – with an artist, on screen or in-game – can seem daunting. If only there was an interface that could connect labels with writing talent across cultural and language boundaries.

That’s exactly the gap in the market SURF Music identified. The Japan-based company, founded and run by multicultural, multilingual music industry experts, is designed to connect East with West.

What is SURF Music?

SURF Music is a digital music marketplace with a community of hundreds of songwriters and producers, mostly from the West, and over 300 A&Rs. The platform allows creators - artists, songwriters, producers - to upload demos so they can connect with opportunities extending beyond their local network, focusing primarily on the Japan, Korea, and US markets.

In the last two years, SURF Music has placed five songs in #1 albums in Japan, and a #1 single on the Oricon Charts in Japan. Among the acts they’ve placed songs with are Japanese alt-rock back The Oral Cigarettes, and girl group Little Glee Monster.

SURF Music operates a subscription-based model, while not taking any commissions or royalties. They strive to empower creators with an equitable business model and bridge East and West markets through effective music sourcing and positive AI applications.

The Challenge: Organising and Making Music Discoverable

When creators on SURF Music's platform upload their music, it needs to be tagged. Otherwise, A&Rs looking for great new songs would have to listen to a lot of irrelevant material before finding appropriate songs to place with their artists. The more time wasted listening to irrelevant material, the fewer songwriters and producers benefit.

Also, record labels have their own libraries which are rapidly growing. There’s a need for labels to quickly and smoothly organise these libraries so their A&R teams can find the right kinds of songs for their artists quickly.

For both of these functions to work, all the music uploaded needs accurate metadata.

The Solution: Musiio's AI-Powered Music Tagging

Musiio’s AI-powered music tagging technology addressed SURF Music's challenges head-on.

"What initially drew us to Musiio's tech was that they had J-pop as a tag," says SURF Music COO Jona Higa. "I think Musiio having been based in Singapore and understanding some nuances with Asian music was very important. It felt like they get it."

Justine Suzuki, Chief Creative Officer at SURF Music, also notes the value Musiio's tech brings: "From an organisational and metadata standpoint, Musiio was the perfect fit. It delivers that comprehensive detail that a song requires, and addresses every detail of what a song embodies."

Jona adds, “From the tech perspective, the Musiio API was very easy to work with and integrate. It works beautifully, and was self-explanatory for our developers.”

Results and Future Plans

With Musiio's technology, SURF Music is better positioned to connect music creators and buyers, facilitating collaborations like those with the Busan Expo team and K-pop group DRIPPIN.

Justine reinforces the power of the integration for time saving. “We didn’t have the same level of technology for discovery in the b2b world as exists in b2c. That’s why we built what we built with SURF Music. We should be allowed to have the same technology, access, discoverability and connectivity to music, on the business side as well. Musiio allows that, and it makes the lives of our users easier.”

For SURF Music, placing songs with artists is just the start. They are actively surfacing opportunities in film, TV, advertising and the gaming industry. By leveraging Musiio's AI technology, SURF Music has been able to optimise their platform for creators and buyers and further bridge the East and West music markets.

SURF Music is also offering an exclusive discount on its Creator subscriptions for any readers of the Musiio Blog. Use code MUSIIO30 for 30% off an annual subscription.

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