Saturday, March 16, 2013

Samsung to Double Music Hub Staff as Part of Media Push

Alex Pham/Billboard

Photo: mSpot Inc.
Samsung’s Music Hub service is planning to double its Silicon Valley workforce in the coming year as part of a broader push by the Korean consumer electronics giant to play a larger role as a media platform for its devices, the company said on Friday.

The Music Hub service, introduced last year for the company’s Galaxy smartphone and tablet line, came out of Samsung’s acquisition on May 9, 2012, of mSpot Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider of white label music services for mobile carriers and device manufacturers.

The company said it plans to double the Palo Alto music team from 100 people to 200 by the end of the year, hiring both engineers and business development staff.

“To date, the Music Hub subscription service is only available in six countries,” said Daren Tsui, mSpot’s chief executive. “We want to expand that this year and next. That, of course, requires staff” to hammer out licensing and partnership deals.

Samsung has already made some key hires to further its international expansion. In November, the company hired Lisa Tiver as its senior VP of business development to oversee the broader licensing efforts. Tiver, a specialist in music publishing licensing, was general counsel of ESPN Star Sports Asia, a joint venture between the Walt Disney Co. and News Corp. and, prior to that, head of legal and business affairs for Mushroom Records, also a News Corp. venture.

And in January, Samsung hired Duncan Hutchison, former GM of Caroline Records and founder of Astralwerks, as director of global independent label relations, to aggregate independent content for the Music Hub service.

Samsung also needs additional engineers to help bring the Music Hub service to a broader mix of connected devices that it manufactures, including Internet-connected television sets, home audio equipment and home appliances, such as refrigerators, Tsui said.

Some of the current job openings listed on mSpot’s website include Android software engineer, Flash software engineer and senior data analyst.

The expansion of Music Hub is part of a larger effort by Samsung to build out a broader entertainment platform -- dubbed Samsung Hub. Samsung gave a sneak peek of the platform on Thursday at the Galaxy S4 unveiling, but did not provide any details.

Expected to launch late this spring or early this summer, Samsung Hub will bring together under a single “store” its various digital media services, including Music Hub, Book Hub, Game Hub and Media Hub.

For Music Hub, Samsung will continue to rely on its contract with 7Digital to provide the back end music delivery, while its Palo Alto engineers design the service’s search, recommendation and user interface, Tsui said. Based in the United Kingdom, 7Digital on Friday said its music application programming interface is expected to be pre-installed in 100 million Galaxy S4 phones this year. Samsung has not disclosed how many people have opted to subscribe to Music Hub, which is only available on Samsung devices and personal computers via a web browser.

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