OpenAura's API Creates New Monetization Opportunities for Artists

Patricio Robles
Apr. 02 2014, 12:42PM EDT

Music is an integral part of daily life for countless millions of people around the world, and in many cases, the artists who create it touch our lives in ways that go beyond sound. In fact, musicians are some of the most visible and talked about individuals on the internet. To help artists control how they're represented to their fans online, and to help them monetize their online content, San Francisco-based OpenAura has created a digital identity platform for artists and the record labels and content partners they work with. Through this platform, third parties can license premium content, including pictures, artwork, reviews and social feeds, enabling them to build deeper, more dynamic experiences for fans.

In an effort to make integrating that premium content into their applications easier for third parties, OpenAura has launched a beta version of an API platform. The platform comes in two flavors: an Info "Classic" API that provides basic artist data, such as bio information and a profile image, and an Info Premium API that offers access to a rich universe of visual content.

OpenAura's API platform is RESTful and returns data in JSON format. The company's developer portal offers API documentation and an interactive console that developers can use to experiment with the API without writing code.

Both the Info "Classic" and Info Premium APIs are available for commercial use. A non-commercial trial of the Info Premium API is offered. One of the first partners using the OpenAura API is popular internet radio service 8tracks, which allows users to create and listen to mixes.

New APIs, new revenue streams

OpenAura is founded by music industry veteran Kevin Arnold. It has inked deals with several artist management companies and raised seed investment from Sony Music Entertainment.

"In today’s world where fans engage directly with artists in many ways across many networks and platforms, the '80s-bio-and-photo-press-kit version of identity isn’t good enough," Arnold told Billboard earlier this year. "With connected screens everywhere and fans consuming and creating content at breakneck pace, the industry needs a better visual content offering to move music user experiences forward."

Distributing content to all of those screens and platforms, and making sure that fans have access to the most up-to-date media, of course, is a task ideally suited to an API. And, more interestingly, an API  also offers a way to monetize content that, up to now, hasn't been monetized.

According to Billboard, artists will receive 30% of the licensing fees OpenAura collects, and another 20% will be shared with the owners of the images it distributes. If the OpenAura API gains enough traction, and the apps using OpenAura content produce enough usage, the company could be the source of a meaningful new revenue stream for an industry still figuring out how to fully capitalize on the digital popularity of its music and artists.

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