One of the most important values of TurnTable Charts is Partnership – we believe that people achieve grander feats in record time when they come together and channel their resources into searching for answers and defiling barriers. It's our guiding philosophy and it has contributed entirely to our current position, and it’s through partnerships that we met and built a relationship with HITLAB Inc., a technology company that allows artists to promote their music and brand. HITLAB is designed so that individual artists can own and manage their page that can contain news, photos, videos, upcoming shows, background, contact information, and music for free listening and download.
What put HITLAB on the map and also led them to Africa is their DHS product. HITLAB created the DHS (Dynamic Hit Scoring) technology which makes use of artificial intelligence to predict the hit potential of a new song. DHS compares this new song to a huge database of chart-topping singles called the Music DataBase, with representation from a wide range of genres such as Pop, EDM, Country, Hip Hop, Rock, K-Pop, and more to determine its quality.
In 2021, HITLAB brought its DEAS competition to Africa. DEAS (Digital Emerging Artistes Showcase) is an emerging artists competition with a fully digital application process. Artists can submit their songs for digital analysis through HITLAB’s artificial intelligence DNA technology, Digital Nuance Analysis, for a chance to showcase their song to a live audience, and to win a professional recording contract with a major label. TurnTable Charts had a sit down with Michel Zgarka, the President & CEO of HITLAB Inc. on how his company is trying to change global music and its entrance into the African music scene
TTC: How and when did you get into music?
MICHEL: I have been in the music business for a long time and at the time, I was part of the DJs of the Disco Tech which created the movement. We launched artists such as Jay Strongz, James Brown, and many others. I can still remember walking the hallways of Studio 54, so I come from that world of disco. I moved to the business side of music after that, I moved on to soundtracks then producing film, TV, and animation.
I worked on animations based on music such as "Gummy Bear" which became a phenomenon because it was one of the first music clips on animation launched using YouTube. Several years later, we are still among the top 5 ranked most views videos on YouTube with over 6 Billion views. In all, I have over 45 years of experience in music.
TTC: How did you start HITLAB?
MICHEL: We created the company in 2007 and the first step we did was to partner with Universities initially in Europe to analyze what makes up the DNA of music. So based on those studies from the University of France and the University of Germany, we brought all those studies back to Montreal where we hired our tech team and further analyze every single parameter that makes up a song and it was thus determined that any music, whatever the style, the culture, the language they come from are all made up of the same 83 parameters. From there on, we perfected the initiative which became the DNA of music which is the Digital Nuance Analysis, and our other technology called "Can you sing" which analyzes the quality of a voice.
To make sure it worked, we teamed up with the Grammys to analyze potential new artists that eventually will be part of the Grammy awards. So during Grammy week, they used our technology to get scores against the 83 parameters and that was Step 1. Then we did it with other such events and then we had our brochure for over 2 years with Akon, then we did a major contest with the Boston Red Sox. They wanted to find a new voice to sing the National Anthem on their game on national television and we proceeded to work with them which gave full proof of content and concept.
From there we decided strictly from the company's analysis to move forward to become a full-fledged B2B and B2C company. SHIN re-inventing the wheel is similar to the existing music format except that it cost about 10% of all the others because all the analysis will be done through our technology. However, because of COVID and the impossibility of launching a full-fledged TV show, in parallel we created the Digital Emerging Artist Showcase.
We launched first in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the first winners with the highest scores were announced in June 2021. We also launched the next phase which will be first in Latin America and Brazil which started in mid-July, then Eastern-Europe, all the way to November.
TTC: Going forward, what can be expected from HITLAB regarding its focus on African music? What project or plans do you have for the continent?
MICHEL: We want to make sure that any talent that we help to bring to the forefront of the industry gets domestic success but also goes international, so we have lined up a multitude of partners ranging from indie producers to labels whether they are independent or major, as well as distributors. We have already lined up multiple deals and partnerships in a multitude of countries that will guarantee that the winners are not only successful in their own country but outside of their country too and get airplay in the U.S and wherever possible too.
For now, in the initial showcase, we have talents from four different countries from Sub-Sahara Africa and we have all of them regardless of their different languages in the songs playing in the U.S and since our radio program ( KMOB.radio.com) is internet-based, it can be heard everywhere as soon as you plug into the radio system whether you are in Lagos, Washington, Paris or Tokyo, you have access to the artist that was totally unknown maybe three weeks ago
TTC: In one of our previous conversations from earlier this year, you mentioned that you would be working regarding the next African Cup of Nations which is next year. Are you chanced to give more details on that?
MICHEL: We have partners that we are working with that are providing entertainment for the next African Cup of Nations and World Cup too which is divided into two different groups and they want to do a song contest that is based on African music and African people. The song contest will be powered by HITLAB. However, we would also provide some of the artists for the half-time entertainment. For the World Cup, there would be different concerts and all kinds of other entertainment and some of the DEAS artists will also perform in some of those events.