They say you should never meet your heroes – but for Ryan Edwards, to do so has been a dream come true.

As a child the Audoo entrepreneur would practise drumming along to songs from famous bands in his bedroom. Later, as part of The Lines, he would find himself opening for these heroes – including The Killers, The Charlatans, Jack Peñate and Supergrass.

“Looking back, it was the dream!” he tells BusinessCloud. “I went from playing along with their songs in my bedroom – sorry, Mum & Dad! – to standing side stage and getting to know them.

“My favourite song of all time is Wires by Athlete, which came out in 2005… for me it’s the perfect mix of fear, excitement and love in a single song – the vocal-only part of the bridge is just perfection. Some years later we got to open for Athlete at Coventry Kasbah.

“We arrived late and rushed through the song check… I’ll never forget arriving in our dressing room and hearing Joel [Pott] next door warming up on an acoustic guitar to Wires. I was so starstruck I couldn’t bring myself to tell him my love for the song.

“Instead I played it super cool, thanked the full band for letting us open for them and got my CD of their album Tourist signed… which I now have framed in my home office!”

Far from living a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, Edwards would study the art of drumming while on tour. “I planned to go to Leeds Music College to study jazz, so I took any moment I could to sit with a practice pad and work through books like Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer by Jim Chapin and Stick Control by George Lawrence Stone.

“It was the opposite of my band mates, who certainly enjoyed their fair share of Champagne!”

Domino Effect

After The Lines, Edwards focused his career on technology and data, leading teams in creating mobile apps for world football governing body FIFA, B&Q and Barclays; rolling out complex retail data solutions at Visa; and bringing Best Buy to the UK.

In 2018 he was shopping in a department store when he heard his former band’s song Domino Effect playing over the speakers – and wondered whether they were being paid royalties they were due. The idea for Audoo, recently crowned No.1 on our MediaTech 50 ranking, was born.

Its Audio Meter™ – which Edwards says remains true to the original vision sketched out sitting at his kitchen table – has been specifically designed to cut through environmental noise and recognise the music played within commercial premises.

Audoo – revolutionising royalty reporting through data

“Just last week I received a message on LinkedIn from a songwriter based in Australia thanking me personally… he had received his royalty statement and music reported via Audio Meters were on it as line items,” says Edwards. 

“He had never seen such detail. It was something we had hoped for, but it’s never been about Audoo as a brand – just the output. The Audio Meter’s reporting meant a songwriter was paid accurately.

“The whole team was dizzy that day, and to show our investors and potential new partners execution like that is exactly why we’re growing so quickly.”

Step inside Abbey Road Red (and meet its music start-ups)

Rocket Man

I first met Edwards in person at the demo day for Abbey Road’s Red incubator in the days before COVID hit the UK. Back then he had a team of three but by the time the pandemic was over, he had 20 staff.

“We are now over 35. The team is based around the world from Bristol to Barcelona, Sydney to Staffordshire – and everywhere in between, our first US based employee joins in April 2024,” he tells me.

Still headquartered in London, last year Audoo opened its second UK office in Wakefield at Tileyard North. Its Audio Meter™ – which was piloted in Australia due to lockdown restrictions in the UK – is now live in more than 15 countries across four continents.

Key to its growth has been the support of investors – including the most famous of music legends – with more than $25 million raised to date.

“To start with, I favoured the ‘small and often’ approach. I started with an initial £150,000 pre-seed, and went over to seed at £1.2m, and then further rounds at just over £5m each,” Edwards explains.

“In October last year, we announced a further $5m round, backed by Sir Elton John, MPL Ventures and ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus. This was an amazing moment for Audoo, drawing on the support of music legends to revolutionise the royalty space is a dream come true.

“Like any growing business, funding is always on our mind and because of our progress we are always being approached. Whilst we’re not in an active round, conversations are still had most weeks.”

The first interview

So what did it mean to Edwards to top BusinessCloud’s MediaTech 50?

“BusinessCloud was the first publication to ever cover Audoo and has a very special place in my heart,” he says of our phone interview in 2019. “I was in Cannes for the MIDEM music conference and my daughter was just a few months old.

“My wife sat in the bathroom of our tiny hotel room so we could speak – I was so nervous doing my first interview as a founder/CEO, hoping the questions were nice… they were!

“I thought we had peaked at No.13 last year, so despite the unlucky number I’m absolutely delighted to take the crown this time round.

“I’m very grateful for the continued support of BusinessCloud telling our story over the years and looking forward to many more to come.”

MediaTech 50 – UK’s most innovative media tech creators for 2024