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Utopia Music: Enabling fair pay for every play using the power of data

About Utopia Music

Utopia Music is a Swiss-based technology company that uses data to enhance the global music industry through increased revenues, reduced costs, accelerated payment cycles and improved insights.

Industries: Technology
Location: Switzerland

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About DoiT

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Utopia Music has built a platform powered by Google Kubernetes Engine and BigQuery that marries music ownership and consumption data that brings transparency to the music industry and accelerates royalty payments.

Google Cloud results

  • Accelerates music royalty payments from months to minutes with a unique platform that combines ownership and consumption data
  • Enables clear communication and collaboration with Google Workspace during rapid expansion from 60 to 800+ employees
  • Runs powerful analytics and operations at scale while keeping its commitments to go carbon-free by 2030

Processes 28 petabytes of raw audio data every year

There’s something unknowable about music that makes it beautiful. Legendary composer Leonard Bernstein once asked "Why do so many of us try to explain the beauty of music, thus depriving us of its mystery?" But there is a world of difference between the mystery of music-making and need for transparency within the music industry. Artists, musical societies, and publishers may unfairly miss out on payments for their work, with no single dataset of what has been played to rely on. Switzerland’s Utopia Music, founded in 2016, aims to set things for right stakeholders across the music industry, with its rallying cry of ‘Fair Pay for Every Play.'

Utopia Music has developed techniques for identifying existing compositions and recordings, and matching them with an increasingly comprehensive set of consumption data. Handling, combining and analyzing different datastreams requires a high level of resources, technical expertise, and proprietary AI tools. This enables users—from multinational publishers to independent musicians—to access the data and information they need via a simple, low-friction Software-as-a-Service platform. And they can do so via a range of web and mobile apps, depending on their needs.

The company built its platform with Google Cloud, it says, in order to draw on the necessary compute power to ensure a smooth user experience, while adhering to its commitment to sustainability. "We knew we needed a developer-friendly, stable, scalable infrastructure that could process a huge amount of data and store it efficiently," explains Lauri Vuornos, CTO, Utopia Music. "Google Cloud fit all those criteria and, because of its commitment to run carbon-free by 2030, we also felt that it aligned with our sustainability goals and our desire to lead by example."

While Environmental Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) has become increasingly important in recent years, Utopia Music built sustainability into its DNA from the very start. "If you have a company with the tagline 'Fair pay for every play', your moral compass necessarily holds sway over a whole range of values," adds Utopia Music’s Chief Strategy Officer, Kristian Luoma.

"Dataflow is really, really powerful for us. It just takes away a lot of the maintenance burden compared to more traditional pipeline systems, which means we can spend our time building applications and not working on the infrastructure."

Lauri Vuornos, CTO, Utopia Music

Building a platform to scale and adapt with Kubernetes

After launching in 2016, Utopia Music worked steadily to build out its platform and enrich the features that it could provide. In 2019, after a successful round of funding, the company embarked on a series of acquisitions that would enhance the existing data platform and bring Utopia Music to new users across the world. Each acquisition came with new tools and technologies, often matured over years. And they had to be integrated with the existing infrastructure. Designing its architecture around Kubernetes, the open source container technology developed at Google, allowed Utopia Music to ensure operational consistency across its multi-cloud environment.

With the majority of its applications running in Kubernetes clusters, Google Kubernetes Engine is the backbone of the infrastructure. This enabled Utopia Music to manage its services with ease. And the company uses BigQuery as its primary warehouse and analytics platform for its data, which is pipelined in from a range of sources with Dataflow. "Dataflow, is really, really powerful for us," Vuornos adds. "It just takes away a lot of the maintenance burden compared to more traditional pipeline systems, which means we can spend our time building applications and not working on the infrastructure."

Unstructured data is stored in Cloud Storage buckets and then made suitable for analysis using data transformation services in Kubernetes and automated and managed with Cloud Composer. With the data inside BigQuery, the company can run its analytics and proprietary machine learning algorithms in order to identify recorded music, and match its ownership data with the copyright data. Any insights can be visualized with Data Studio and quickly and easily disseminated to colleagues, partners, or users.

As Utopia Music grew over time and with each acquisition added more and more tools and environments, the complexity of the infrastructure grew as well. In 2021, the company teamed up with Google Cloud partner DoiT International, to optimize its infrastructure as much as possible. "We had hit a point where we needed to get a better understanding of our costs," says Vuornos. "DoiT had the knowledge and experience to provide us with the transparency we needed, not just for Google Cloud, but also all the other services that we had started using."

"We knew we needed a developer-friendly, stable, scalable infrastructure that could process a huge amount of data and store it efficiently. Google Cloud fit all those criteria and, because of its commitment to run carbon-free by 2030, we also felt that it aligned with our sustainability goals."

Lauri Vuornos, CTO, Utopia Music

Sustainable growth, clear values

With Google Cloud at its heart, Utopia Music has been able to expand and enrich its platform for a global customer base. The platform currently processes around 28 petabytes of raw audio every year across its various apps. And users experience the same smooth service whether they’re a corporate entity using the B2B web application, or an independent musician using a mobile device. For these stakeholders, that meant comprehensive overviews of how their music is being used, and faster payments.

"Google Cloud has enabled us to grow very quickly with minimal impact to our service," says Luoma. "That growth has enabled us to compile a unique dataset of consumption data that sets a baseline in the industry, and has accelerated royalty payments from months to minutes."

The rapid growth of Utopia Music since 2019 did not only present a technical challenge in terms of scalability. It also presented an organizational challenge as the company went from 60 employees to more than 800, spread out over a dozen or so countries across the world. On top of that, much of the acquisition activity took place in the shadow of COVID-19 while much of the world was operating under lockdown conditions. In these circumstances, Google Workspace,—in particular Google Meet—enabled Utopia Music to keep its teams focused with clear communication and intuitive, real-time collaboration.

For now, Utopia Music is focused on closing the data gap in the music industry even further and iterating through and enhancing its products. Recently, the company has been exploring Google Dataplex as a way of simplifying and supercharging its data operations. Perhaps the most forward-looking element of Utopia Music is its continued commitment to sustainability and social impact. In 2021, the company wrote a study on sustainability in the music industry, how to measure it, and why that was ultimately a good thing both from an ESG perspective and from a financial perspective. Google Cloud gives Utopia Music access to all the compute power it needs, while still maintaining its sustainability goals. "We want to be a sustainable, net positive investment opportunity and our technology platform is a huge part of that," says Luoma.

"Google Cloud has enabled us to grow very quickly with minimal impact to our service. That growth has enabled us to compile a unique dataset of consumption data that sets a baseline in the industry, and has accelerated royalty payments from months to minutes."

Kristian Luoma, Chief Strategy Officer, Utopia Music

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Utopia Music

Utopia Music is a Swiss-based technology company that uses data to enhance the global music industry through increased revenues, reduced costs, accelerated payment cycles and improved insights.

Industries: Technology
Location: Switzerland

About DoiT

DoiT finds saving potential and optimization in every cloud or technology stack, helping businesses build and run powerful cloud solutions at scale.