After founding Meridian Audio in 1977 and exiting his business in 2015, Stuart now runs MQA in line with his passion for the ultimate audio experience. Here’s a snapshot of his business journey
Name: Bob Stuart
Location: Huntingdon, Cambs
Date Launched: MQA technology was unveiled at the Shard in December 2014, to an enthusiastic crowd of music industry professionals and journalists. MQA Ltd the company was then established in June 2015
Number of employees: 12
What does your business do?
MQA is a technology that delivers studio quality music files in a format small enough to stream or download. We work right across the music industry ecosystem: with music labels, recording engineers, artists, retail stores and hardware manufacturers. Ultimately, we’d like to make studio quality audio available to all music fans.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Recent neuro-scientific research into how we hear has been key to the development of MQA. Combining that knowledge with modern sampling theory, we’ve invented a way to improve digital recordings – which takes the music fan closer to the original performance.
Since the widespread adoption of MP3 as the streaming format of choice, sound quality has been sacrificed for convenience. I strongly believe that we have a collective responsibility to ensure that musical archives are preserved in their highest quality for future generations to enjoy.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I’ve always been passionate about preserving audio quality, and I was confident that music fans would appreciate a format that delivered rich sound quality alongside convenience. We’re not trying to change consumer purchasing or listening habits, we are however responding to the growing popularity of music streaming services.
How did you raise funding, and why?
We raised funding through a share issue from Reinet Investments. This enabled us to hire people with the necessary expertise, industry knowledge and connections, as well as invest in building the brand across the different sectors – from audio hardware, to music and retail.
Describe your business model in brief.
MQA is an end-to-end technology, which means taking into consideration the encoding of the music files, their delivery and the playback device, to ensure MQA quality is not compromised in any part of the chain. Revenues are generated by a royalty on content sales as well as licensing income from device partners.
What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?
Completing the technology and unveiling it to the industry in December 2014 was our first major milestone. Since then we’ve established partnerships with labels, music services and hardware manufacturers, and a real turning point was entering a long-term licensing deal with Warner Music Group in May this year. This means recordings from Warner Music’s diverse roster of acclaimed artists and catalogue will be made available in MQA for download and streaming very soon. We’re working hard with delivery partners to make MQA music available on streaming platforms as this is increasingly how fans want to listen to their music.
Stay focused on your vision; don’t get distracted by the ‘nay-sayers’; and build a strong team around you – you can’t do this alone!
What do you want to achieve within the next two years?
I would like to see a huge catalogue of MQA music available for listeners to enjoy worldwide on any device, with the knock-on effect of higher quality audio across the industry for the benefit of everyone.