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Using any music in one’s work is often a headache if one is unsure of the ins and outs of licensing.

Epidemic Sound aims to simplify the process with its users paying one fee to access a whole bunch of music to use in their work.

We caught up with CEO, Oscar Höglund to ask him more about the service.

In one sentence, what is your product/service?  

Epidemic Sound is the first production music library that gives visual content creators use of professional-quality soundtracks in any country, on any platform, forever, for only a small fee – and no additional charges are ever required of anyone.

What problem(s) does it solve?

Production music licensing is totally broken. Content – basically film, TV, advertising, video – has all moved to the Internet and there’s no going back.  But the traditional way to license music for soundtracks doesn’t work when that content is watched anytime, on any platform, worldwide.

And, despite claims by ever other professional quality production music library, someone else will charge you or block the viewing of your content, after you paid good money to licensed their music.

In contrast, with Epidemic Sound you pay once and you’re free to use the music in any country, on any platform, forever, because instead of representing music, we own it, and can do with it as we please.

What are your immediate goals?

Epidemic Sound is already the largest supplier of production music to TV in the Nordics. And, last month we signed a commercial agreement with the U.K. trade association pact where they’re paying the fees to give their members (who produce more hours of content for British TV than the BBC) free use of our library.

So our focus right now is on the U.K., followed quickly by the U.S. – probably the biggest market in the world for our services.

What were the biggest challenges involved in building the tech or your team?

First we had to figure out how to create this company and business model. Production music accounts for about 90 percent of all music used in professional TV and online visual content production, but the old-school way of licensing music for soundtracks is extremely complex with a million players involved in creating, reporting, billing, blocking and often suing one another.

It’s totally crazy and broken. But once we figured out that we need to reinvent this industry, and how to do it legally, then the challenge was all about building a library with professional quality music and scaling it, which has taken the last few years to achieve.

The Epidemic Sound library now has more than 25,000 tracks that are tagged and formatted for our search tools that visual content creators use to explore, edit and download the music.

And, each track is broken into STEMS, individual tracks where the instruments can be heard and edited separately, thereby creating over 100,000 sound files available for use.

How will the company make money?

It’s not really a question of whether we will make money. Epidemic Sound makes money today, because our model is very simple. We buy music directly from composers when tracks are created, rather than making the artists wait and rely on collection societies to send royalty checks at an unknown, totally unpredictable time.

Then, visual content creators can either subscribe to our service and pay a monthly fee for essentially unlimited use, or they can purchase individual tracks on an as needed basis.

 

Who is in your team?

There are five of us in the founding team:

  • Peer Aström, an award-winning producer for the likes of Madonna, Kelly Clarkson and Enrique Iglesias, and who produces all of the music for the FOX hit show Glee.
  • Jan (Zac) Zachrisson is best known for co-founding TV4, now the largest commercial broadcaster in Sweden, and Zodiak Television, one of the world’s largest TV-production companies.
  • Hjalmar Winbladh is a serial entrepreneur with a list of successful tech startups, including Sendit (sold to Microsoft), Rebtel (a $100 million mobile VoIP company), and Wrapp (the social gifting service).
  • David Stenmarck, who started and owns one of the most successful shows in Swedish entertainment history, called Ladies Night, is the other creative force at the company, producing hit singles for international superstars such as his brother, Martin Stenmarck, Celine Dion and Westife.

    Between David and Peer I think the two have sold more than 150 million albums and/or downloads.

  • And then there’s me, Epidemic Sound’s CEO, Oscar Höglund, who was bored being a management consultant for Boston Consulting Group, and joined Zodiak Television where I started 5th Element, one of Zodiak’s fastest growing production companies, and served as a member of the management team before we sold it to the De Agostini Group.

 

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

Our goal from the start has been to unchain production music and give composers a better way to make a living. I think we accomplished a lot in just a few years, and have a good start down that road.

But, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. So if we succeed, five years from now visual content creators will be in control, and Epidemic Sound will be in every creator’s toolbox.

Other than your own, what are your favourite websites / apps / tools?

I don’t think I could run my business without Dropbox. I really admire its utility and ease of use, and the company’s focus on doing one thing super, super well. LinkedIn is also an essential part of doing my job day to day.

Spotify – I don’t think an explanation is required. And RunKeeper because it helps me become a better version of me. That’s it. Lots of others.  But those are the top four.

Ben Davis

Published 17 October, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

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stan goldard

I hope Econsultancy don't mind if I, as a production music writer of 10+ years attempt to redress the balance of this article from a musician's perspective:

I can't help feeling that a "problem" is being manufactured here to line somebody's pockets (and musicians - that's definitely not you).

Production music licensing is not "totally broken" and is not rife with litigation. Millions of tracks are licensed successfully everyday - the amount of litigation or tracks that are disputed is minuscule by comparison.

I have, in 10+ years as a writer, never been subject to litigation or had any of my catalogue flagged. Nor has anyone of the 20 or so other production music writers I know ever been subject to litigation - and if any of our tracks had been flagged, we'd know as contractually we are liable for any litigation.

My royalty payments are paid 4 times every year on designated dates without fail. It is accounted to me in full every time. Again, this is normal for me and all my writing buddies.

Under Epidemic's business model (small up front one-off fee, no royalties), I would stand to earn on a track by track basis AT BEST a mere 10% of my annual income.

So for anyone from Epidemic to give the impression that their model would actually benefit musicians IN ANY WAY is really pushing the truth to limits that are frankly, astounding.

And let's make a bet that some of the directors are only able to make this fabulous offer because of the money they've made / are making from the sort of residual income they conveniently believe their writers don't need any more.

There are thousands of production music companies providing music whose legal provenance offers no difficulties whatsoever to production companies and they also offer musicians a fair deal.

I say to budding writers - go out and find work with them instead - you won't earn a rock star's salary, but at least you can pay your bills and not live in a room with a bed and a computer for the rest of your life.

And don't just take it from me. Ask around. Do your research.

almost 3 years ago

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