SyncPower is the Japanese company whose business includes providing ‘synced lyrics’ content, as well as (through its status as the agent in Japan for ACRCloud) music-recognition technology.
The first part of that business is growing well. “Currently, we have about 2.7m lyrics content, which we provide to 30 services which are run by our business clients, as well as to consumers through our own apps,” says president Masakazu Tomita, who founded the company in 2006, after coming across synced-lyrics technology in his work with Korean companies.
“I was convinced that Synced lyric technology and services play a very important role in conveying the fascination of music,” he says. “By displaying synced lyrics while listening to music, listeners enjoy the lyrics visually as well. It allows music fans to enjoy the fascination of each song more deeply and richly.”
SyncPower’s business began with the technology to create content and integrate synced lyrics into the song files. Over time, however, its knowledge of how to manage and provide a huge library of content has also become a key asset, as it built its PetitLyrics business.
“Our main clients are music DSPs, both in Japan and abroad. I recognise our company as a music service provider in the sense that we provide lyrics content – the mandatory elements of music – and also a database company that manages and provides a large amount of metadata related to music,” says Tomita.
One of those partners is Japanese startup COTODAMA, which was part of the UK’s Abbey Road Red accelerator in 2018. Its COTODAMA Lyric Speaker has won praise for the way it displays animated lyrics as songs play.
Tomita describes it as “one of the coolest devices” and is enthusiastic about its potential. “It is a product that allows synced lyrics to be visualised and displayed, according to the characteristics of each song,” he says. “It is our great pleasure that our content and technology support this product, which is currently sold in 30 countries.”
SyncPower’s technology has also been used for an app called Lylink, launched in 2018 in partnership with two companies within the NTT telco group. The app lets people send lyrics with music videos to friends.
PetitLyrics is already available through the smart speakers of Google and Amazon, but this is just the start of what could be a fruitful new device category for SyncPower’s technology – especially as we see smart speakers become smart displays, with screens.
“One of the latest investigations shows over 70% of smart speaker users listen to music with it and it is the most well-used feature,” says Tomita, citing a recent survey conducted by Dentsu Digital in Japan.
“Currently, our services are limited to just tell the song titles. However, it is clear that the products with screens will become mainstream in the near future. At that time, I believe that synced lyrics features will be required, and it will lead to a big business opportunity,” he says.
SyncPower has also been working with ACRCloud, one of the most established companies in the automatic content recognition space, to expand its services by combining audio-fingerprinting tech with its synced-lyrics feature.
The company also sees opportunities as Japan’s music-streaming market continues to grow, with streaming revenues having risen by 32.6% there in 2018 according to the IFPI’s latest Global Music Report.
“As the streaming market grows, users will be able to enjoy a large number of music for a fixed fee, and the need for lyrics display will increase,” says Tomita.
“Music metadata and ACR technology are also important for finding favourite music from tens of millions of songs. We are forming partnerships with music aggregators and delivery companies to create a system that can respond more timely to more songs, so we believe our role will be more important.”
SyncPower also has ambitions outside Japan, having made deals with a range of DSPs in its home market.
“As Japanese artists, labels and productions are also focusing on overseas markets, we believe that our role can be increased,” says Tomita. “We are already in discussions with companies that are strong in licensing so that we can provide our rich and high quality content overseas legally.”
Also on SyncPower’s agenda: expanding its business using song-recognition technology to provide reports for songs played by broadcasters, which Tomita says fits well into its overall principles.
“Each business field is slightly different, but once we think about the music cycle, we found it is all connected. Music creation; encounter new music; enjoy music more deeply with the lyrics; the songs are properly reflected in the licensing report; and then returned to the writer and the artists,” he says.
“Everything is connected in terms of contributing to the cycle. We will continue to make full use of the vast database centred on lyrics, which is the basis of all of our services.”
SyncPower is the new co-sponsor of the free to access Music Ally Japan business information service alongside MQA.