Songbird Media

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Songbird Media
Subsidiary
IndustryMusic streaming, music label, music production, festival presentation
Founded12 April 2008
Founders
  • Isabeau-Euterpe Autechre
  • Trancrède-Érate Maugouai
  • Léonie-Polymnie Chater
Headquarters500 Ave Dallaire, 4th Arrondissement, ,
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
  • Isabeau-Euterpe Autechre (CEO)
  • Trancrède-Érate Maugouai (CCO)
  • Léonie-Polymnie Chater (CCO)
  • Ogier-Aimable Autechre (COO)
  • Jaçinthe-Artemès Jocault (CTO)
RevenueIncrease $20.73 billion
Increase $4.43 billion
OwnerPetalstone Music
ParentPetalstone


Songbird Media S.A. is a Çyrine streaming service provider operating globally since 2012. Founded in Boix-de-Houx in 2008 by three local music producers, the company began as a digital distribution service called Songbird before branching out to record production and publishing in the latter years of the 2010s. Audio streaming by the company provides DRM-protected music and podcasts via a freemium service. Almost half of Songbird's users are subscribers, entitling them to ad-free listening, access to music videos, improved audio quality, and access to exclusive content through licensing arrangements.

Since its launch in 2008, over 60 million tracks have been made available which users can find by artist, album, genre, or popularity globally or by region. By default, the service also recommends music or podcasts based on a user's past listens though this may be disabled in the app's options. The app is available on all major smartphones, desktop operating systems, and browsers.

In addition to its streaming services, Songbird Media has hosted a week-long music festival in April of every year since 2016, called the Songbird Festival. The inaugural event which was attended by over 25,000 people. The Songbird Festival has since become an annual event with all 75,000 tickets selling out in 2035 and 2036. Songbird Media planned to become public on the stock market as early as 2015 but was hindered by many failed international launches. It wasn't until 2018 when Petalstone Music - who had helped Songbird raise its $100 million of seed funding - invested $526 million and helped take the company public at a valuation of $19.3 billion. By the end of 2027, Petalstone Music had increased its investment to a majority stake and eventually used this as an advantage to announce its intention to fully acquire Songbird Media in 2036 but negotiations regarding license deals put the acquisition on hold for several months. In February 2037, Petalstone Music Entertainment acquired Songbird Media for $55 billion in a cash and stock deal.

History

Early development

In 2005, Isabeau-Euterpe Autechre and Trancrède-Érate Maugouai began producing electronic music as a duo and began touring together the next year. The two met Léonie-Polymnie "Lionne" Chater, a fellow Çyrine musician, at the 2006 Solstice Arts Festival and the trio of unsigned independent artists began to collaborate. After releasing two indie EPs, the group began developing a distribution platform for independent artists in 2008. Promotion of Songbird began in August 2009, while technical development of the platform was headed by Autechre's elder brother Ogier-Aimable. The company was originally going to be named Passereaux, but the group opted for an English name to increase international appeal.

Error creating thumbnail: File missing From top to bottom: Isabeau-Euterpe Autechre, Trancrède-Érate Maugouai, Léonie-Polymnie "Lionne" Chater, taken between 2015 and 2025.

Local and global launches

Songbird was launched November 8, 2010, in the Çyr with a catalog of just under one hundred independent Çyrine artists and groups. The app rapidly gained popularity due to advertising and support from independent DJs on the Çyrine club circuit despite relying entirely on a subscription model. In 2011, the app began licensing music from signed artists and also developed a modest catalog of foreign music. In addition, the freemium model of the app was released, allowing free users to listen to music with a more limited set of features and advertisements. This last development caused many in the tech industry and media to doubt in the future of the product as there was speculation that a desperate attempt to grow their user base was indicative of financial insolvency.

This period of changes culminated in a global launch alongside the introduction of a free trial period for the platform's full subscription features and catalog on January 9, 2012. This expansion effectively tripled the platform's user base within six months. Songbird continued to expand its catalog of music over the next two years and also advertised aggressively in major cities around the world as well as at major music and arts festivals. In 2014 the platform also began to feature podcasts and streamed radio broadcasts. By spring 2016, the service had 24 million subscribers which grew to 40 million the following year. By 2020, there were 90 million subscribers and the numbers continued to climb over the next decade.

Expansion and further developments

Error creating thumbnail: File missing The head office of Songbird Media has occupied the Songbird Campus on the 500 block of Ave Dallaire in Boix-de-Houx since 2018.

In 2016, two of the company's founders, Trancrède-Érate Maugouai and Lionne Chater, took a temporary hiatus from both their work with Songbird Media and their individual music careers to launch the associated Songbird Festival, a Çyrine week-long (10 days) music festival in the company's home province of La Hache. The first event was considered a great success and it has subsequently been held every spring.

In tandem with the opening of the company's new offices in 2018 and the process of going public, Songbird Media introduced a new division to sign independent musicians; arranging production, touring, advertisement, and merchandising for artists signed to the Songbird label in addition to producing physical media for the first time. Artists signed with Songbird still gained benefits from platforming their music on the main service and as on-demand streaming media became more commonplace globally, so did Songbird's appeal to mainstream artists increase. As of 2035, Songbird still retains less than 5% of the music industry market, but it has been speculated that the company may breach this threshold in the 2040s, thereby qualifying as a major music label.

As a music label, Songbird Media is also heavily involved in music production for its artists and commercial music. Solo artists whose careers take off may be easily matched with producers also under the employ of Songbird. The company also produces music for movies, television, and commercials.

In the subsequent two decades, Songbird Media has continued to expand its reach and audience but the core elements of the business have remained stable save for the introduction of a few features. These include live-streamed music concerts for subscribers, including video and mastered audio, and the acquisition of several other small record labels, expanding the company's physical footprint internationally in the process. The company also began to platform historic speeches and various lectures in a new "Education" genre in 2023. While the bulk of the service's platform is still music provided by musicians since 2023 numerous renowned academics now regularly publish lectures and interviews on various subjects on the platform.

Streaming service

Library screen on the Songbird smartphone app with the default black and magenta theme.

Songbird has been available on all major smartphones, desktop operating systems, and browsers since its 2010 launch. Accounts and features are also cross-platform, capable of transitioning between the desktop app, smartphone app, and browser app seamlessly, though the latter does not allow users to save tracks offline to listen to without internet access. The other two implements are capable of doing so though with strict digital rights management (DRM) software to protect against illicit duplication of the music.

Features

In Songbird's apps, music can be browsed or searched for via various parameters, such as artist, album, genre, popularity, playlist, or label. Users can create, edit and share playlists, share tracks on various social media platforms, and contribute to playlists together with other users.

In addition to the addition of a native video player, Songbird also made it possible for other applications to be integrated into their apps in 2017. This allows for the streaming of lyrics in time with a song, reviews and ratings of a given track or album to be displayed, and recommendations for similar music or content to be displayed during a track. Development tools for Songbird's platform also allowed for the web player to be embedded in other sites and mobile applications, expanding the versatility and accessibility of the platform even further. Other customization options include user-made themes or the alteration of the application's theme according to the art or colour scheme of the track or album that is being listened to.

Along with the aforementioned parameters, Songbird can also generate playlists to suit a user's tastes if permitted to do so (which is enabled on all accounts by default). Ten different playlists curated by genre and industry specialists at Songbird are also made available for all listeners weekly.

Exposure

Despite explosive growth since its launch, Songbird's creative direction has continually supported small and independent musicians. In keeping with this priority, lesser-known artists are able to have their music pushed to wider audiences through curated playlists which select work based on geographic proximity to the listener, filtering out more popular artists. In addition, independent artists are both featured at the Songbird Festival and Çyrine artists can have travel fees to other major music festivals subsidized by the company.

In addition to supporting independent musicians and attempting to push their work to broader audiences, even mainstream musicians who are signed to other labels may be pushed to listeners in regions where their work is less popular. Songbird Media has explained that its objective is to truly expand music universally and minimize regional and market differences around the globe.

Business model

Songbird Media collects revenue both by direct subscriptions and also through ad revenue. In turn, royalties to artists are disbursed from 70% of the revenue in proportion to the number of streams their content had. Many artists have criticized the process as their own record labels retain a portion of the royalties received from Songbird. However, artists who are signed with Songbird Media directly or are unsigned completely receive their full allotment directly without the company taking more than the 30% portion.

The Songbird service operates under a freemium business model, providing basic services to users for free while offering additional ones to paying subscribers. Revenue for the streaming service subscriptions is supplemented by advertising revenue gathered from free users. Songbird keeps 30% of its streaming revenue and distributes the remaining 70% to record labels or independent artists accordingly. The actual amount disbursed to artists can vary according to arrangements with their labels if applicable. The major features which distinguish the free and subscriber versions of the service are advertisements, though the paid version also provides higher audio quality and allows users to save tracks to be played offline. In 2030, the service also began to offer a traditional catalog which allowed users to permanently purchase and download tracks and albums.

The actual cost of a subscription varies according to region, but generally discounts are available for students and families. The former is typically a 50% discount while the latter of these two programs allows for four, five, or six users to share the service with a 33% discount.

Music production/label

Public atrium of Songbird Burgundie, opened in 2024.

Since beginning operations as a music label in 2018, Songbird Media has attracted a great deal of attention from both mainstream and independent artists. By the mid-2020s, the label was already achieving a great deal of success, charting between seven and twelve number one singles in major regions during that period. The label's artists also experienced great critical success, garnering numerous awards in the same period. By the early 2030s, two-thirds of the label's revenue was now coming from twenty-five major artists signed to Songbird Media. The most frequently cited reasons for the label's success have been both slim margins which allow artists to profit more directly from their work as well as a robust support system of producers. Since 2018, Songbird Media has expanded its physical footprint to five continents through the acquisition of smaller labels and studios in various countries or the opening of entirely new facilities.

Major artists

Songbird Festival

Controversies