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Calgary’s Next Economy: Listen! provides music-focused content, not just songs

The way Stella Rebouh and Gontran Mabetomoka see the music ecosystem is in four parts: The public, the artists, the industry and the different media.

The internet is the one link that can bring them all together, said Rebouh.

They co-founded the French company Listen! It’s a tech company that has created a music search engine. But rather than provide just a list of songs, it connects users to certain tracks, events, video, news articles and concert tickets for a user’s artist of choice.

But they also wanted to use it to expand music lovers’ horizons.

“Not just bringing you the content that we know you already like, that we know you’re already interested in, but put it forward and make you discover things you didn’t expect to discover,” Rebouh said.

It came from personal experience, Rebouh said. Different music – pop, rap, hip hop and jazz – represent different times in her life.

“Each time, there was content, or one group or one song that made me pass from one kind of music to another one, which was completely different,” she said.

To that end, Mabetomoka said that while there are big players on the Internet already, Listen! digs beneath the surface to connect users with more than just songs.

“It’s about the right content, at the right moment, for the right people,” he said.

Machine learning technology

Mabetomoka said Listen! is connecting musicians and users across the globe. It’s evening the playing field for lesser known, perhaps independent artists unable to collect the data to understand audience – and reach new ones.

It’s different from big players like Netflix and their ‘if you liked this’ feature, because often that’s influenced by deals with distributors and movie companies Mabetomoka said.

“With Listen!, the music experience is very intuitive and global,” he said.

Plus, their service is free. The public can access it without having to add in their specifications.

It’s all based on an algorithm, Mabetomoka said. Theirs is just different than what the others are doing in the music field.

Again, if a user listens to a certain artist, they can also be linked to other content from that user. That’s not currently a feature provided by other music services.

From France, but really international

The first version of the Listen! platform was in English, Rebouh said. They realized quite quickly, early on, that much of their user base was located in North America. While based in France, 37 per cent of their users are in North America.

That’s what brought them into the Platform Calgary Junction program.  

“We needed to understand the audience; what are their attendings, and what do they expect from us, from the service,” Rebouh said.

“We need to understand the ecosystem.”

She said when they found the Junction program, they thought it was the ideal way to gain some exposure overseas.

Mabetomoka said it was a great opportunity for them to develop an international approach to business.

While the platform has existed for some time, they want it to evolve beyond users choosing music. Since musicians can also participate, they’re hoping to build a system to allow artists to monetize their content online.

There are some technical and commercial challenges that come along with that, including modernization, Rebouh said. At the top of that list is a mobile version. Right now they’re strictly web-based.

Once they tackle that, Listen! is ready to launch into its next stanza.