Ask Rene Merideth, COO/Co-Founder of Exploration.io, how she got started in the music metadata business, and you’ll quickly learn she has both her family’s thirst for music and thinking outside the box.
They’re familial traits that have served her well on the road to co-founding Exploration.io with fellow music metadata maven Aaron Davis back in 2014.
It all started at church one Sunday morning. Actually, make that the concert the night before. Her older brother took her to see a mind-blowing double bill: Joe Perry Project + Heart. She was six.
“All I know is when Joe Perry took the stage and started to play, I was in love with that guitar, that sound, and everything that he was doing,” Rene recalls.
The next day, before service, her grandmother was showing Rene off to friends – white shoes, pink dress, ruffles. Exhausted from the night before, Rene was having none of it.
When one of the church ladies asked Rene what she wanted to be when she grew up, she leapt onto a pew and shouted, “I’m gonna be Joe f*cking Perry!” Air guitar, the whole deal.
(Again: she was six.)
Warming up with his band at the front of church was her beloved grandfather, Grayfer Abney. Spotting the fire in his wife’s eyes, he called his “grandbaby” to his side and made her his guitar tech from that day forward.
Thus began Rene’s trademark career in the music industry – nothing held back, busting up old ideas with her trailblazing love for tech.
After attending Nashville’s Belmont University, Rene found herself running licensing departments for increasingly larger music labels. When her latest label – Bug Music – was acquired and she became Head of West Coast Licensing for BMG, she was ready to pivot.
“Okay. I’m out. We’re too big. I’m good.”
She ended up as VP of Operations at AdShare, where she honed her deep knowledge of how YouTube uses music and advertising to “monetize.”
Rene’s love of music + tech had already taken on a life of it’s own when she broke off as a freelancer. Like it or not, she now had real street cred for working deep within YouTube’s complex monetization system.
“All anyone wanted to talk to me about at that point was YouTube,” say Rene. “It was the hot topic and I was one of very few industry people who had a lot of experience at that point. So I kept hitting that wall of ‘YouTube!’ ‘YouTube!’ ‘YouTube!’”
In early 2014, she and Aaron started collaborating through their mutual fandom music tech and rugby.(Aaron plays and Rene coaches with the Santa Monica Dolphins. She’s also the first woman to coach a 7s team to Nationals!)
“Aaron had written this piece of software that made YouTube searching better when you’re searching on the backend for things using music,” Rene says. “So we just were like, ‘Let’s start this company!’ And that’s what we did.”
Outside of rugby, they began developing a software tool that uses YouTube’s backend to find client’s metadata via song-specific tags. R&D quickly revealed that potential clients’ metadata needed to be squeaky clean to maximize their odds of YouTube accepting their royalty claims.
“Our software works by searching titles, descriptions, keywords, and more,” she explains. “It will condense that data down and give you a queue to look at and work from that gets more information ‘right’ – and pulls more videos – than YouTube’s searching tool will.”
Thus Exploration.io’s service platform was born: metadata management for 21st century content creators. In the last year, they rebuilt their system to also filter and pick up performances for digital platforms beyond YouTube.
“There’s the front end of YouTube that everybody sees and uses,” says Rene. “Then there’s the backend, which is the content management system; this large database. That search is actually done through a portal in the backend of YouTube, and it finds videos so we can attach assets to them, which is called a ‘claim’.
“We make a claim on a video, and then it will monetize for our clients instead of just airing and monetizing for the video uploader. Aaron’s software was the key to us getting started; it helped us to understand and develop the model for our clients.”
Which is where MAM comes in: Exploration.io’s team works with MAM to help our composers see the maximum possible return when their work appears on YouTube.
MAMSTER EXCLUSIVE! Rene’s hosting MAM’s first ever webinar in September! (MAM clients only — we’ll announce sign ups next month via our blog + FB + Twitter.) Want to optimize your music’s monetization options with YouTube? Rene’s webinar will offer major insights into how music metadata works behind the scenes at YouTube – you’ll never look at the big red arrow the same way again.