Paul Sampson is the CEO and co-founder of Lickd, a digital platform that licenses music to YouTube content creators.
For our regular Day in the Life feature, Paul spoke to Econsultancy about how he came to found the first consumer-facing sync company, why hiring well is so important in the early stages of a start-up, and how marketers can cut through the noise with video marketing and advertising.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Paul Sampson: I am the Co-Founder and CEO of Lickd – the world’s leading commercial music licensing platform for social video creators.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Paul Sampson: Essentially I’m the head of the organisation as the Chief Executive but we have investors and a Board of Directors, which I sit on also, that we report to and consult with on a monthly basis.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Paul Sampson: Well, you need to start off with a strong and clear vision both for a product and for the consumer offering before you even begin doing anything. I think you also need to be a good communicator to be able to effectively deliver that vision not just to your team and future hires but also to investors and potential partners – in our case that includes labels, publishers, distributors and, of course, our prospective customers.
Over and above that, managing well both upwards and downwards as you grow a team and work with investors.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Paul Sampson: I’m in the office first, typically. I like to have a bit of time to myself to plan for the day or the week before others get in to work as you are very quickly deluged with meetings or questions from the team for which you need to be available.
Overall, I’m constantly directing where the company is headed and that, recently, will include interviewing new hires for cultural fit, planning the next 12-24 months, and one or two ‘pitch’ meetings at either a label or a publisher, followed by a meeting with either potential new investors or preparing for the next Board Meeting.
In the early stages of a start-up you spend a lot of your time dealing with raising money and preparing decks that outline the company vision, which leaves you with less time than you’d lke to manage your team as closely as you might like. That’s why hiring well is so important. Building a management team that is fully aligned with the company’s goals and vision means you can begin to delegate some of that management.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Paul Sampson: I love almost everything about it. I genuinely look forward to coming in to work in the morning and, because I like the people we’ve hired and I feel they’re honest, self-motivated people, I look forward to working with them each day. I love that we are challenging the music industry to think differently and that we are succeeding – those wins are very sweet.
Without doubt, the worst part of the job is the stress associated with managing runway and raising money. When you have an entire team’s future in your hands and that future depends not just on their ability to deliver on your objectives (and you being right about those) but also your ability to raise the funding to deliver against them, it does take its toll. Our second round of funding took a full nine months of pitching… a lot of rejection and a lot of sleepless nights.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Paul Sampson: The platform we always envisaged building houses ALL of the world’s music. Signing the rights to that much content for a business model that no one is familiar with is incredibly difficult, but we’re getting there. As a result, the initial KPIs we measure against centre around ‘number of rights holders signed’ and ‘number of tracks live on the platform’, as well as ‘user signup rates’. Everything else takes a back seat to those in the early stages.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Paul Sampson: Honestly, my favourite tools we use were built in-house. Our Admin Dashboard and the data segmentation it offers up to us are incredibly useful in the pitching process.
However, as a business we rely a lot of some great third-party tools like Zendesk and Slack. Slack is, without doubt, the single best third-party tool I’ve ever encountered for internal comms and direct channel communication with different departments.
How did you end up founding Lickd, and where might you go from here?
Paul Sampson: Well, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been in sync licensing since 2005. Everyone to whom I had licensed – whether it be for a film, a film trailer, a TV show or an ad – was essentially a professional production company.
I knew that the sync industry needed disrupting and more automation, but when I realised that 2.8 billion people in the world essentially had a personal production company in their pocket (their phone) – I realised that consumer-facing sync wasn’t yet a thing and needed to be. Once I realised that, I knew there was an enormous and untapped market to be catered for and I had to be the person to deliver it.
Which advertising has impressed you lately?
Paul Sampson: IKEA! IKEA! IKEA! I’ve worked in sync licensing for 15 years now and have seen a lot of brands in advertising try to get the whole music and brand partnerships right with sync. So few have done it well. But the Ikea campaign featuring the custom track by D Double E is by far and away the latest standard-bearer in terms of how to capture attention, create great and engaging content, and entertain at scale.
Some people watch that campaign just to hear the song, others to see the film, but either way everyone leaves feeling positive about the brand and probably searching for more music from the artist. Moreover, Ikea has gained great customer advocacy from a new generation of potential customers.
What advice would you give marketers who are trying to cut through the noise with video marketing/ advertising?
Paul Sampson: Simple! Put yourself in the shoes of the person to whom you’re marketing. Think about what their typical day is like and all the types of messaging they are used to receiving from your competition and do something that breaks their routine or is empathetic to that monotony. Put a smile on their face. Create an emotional high point in their otherwise homogenous routine and you will, without fail, be able to turn an otherwise cold lead in to a warm one – and win!