Ola Sars of Music-Tech Leader, Soundtrack your brand

Founder Interview

Describe Soundtrack Your Brand’s product/service

Soundtrack Your Brand is a music streaming service for businesses.

Soundtrack Your Brand is a B2B music streaming service with the world’s largest catalog of popular music licensed for businesses. We combine expert curation and world-class tech to give businesses an all-in-one solution for streaming music in their establishments, all while ensuring artists and music rights holders are properly compensated.

When we first launched, we were shocked at how far behind the background music space was from the consumer streaming space. We have been working on bridging that gap.

The Soundtrack platform enhances the in-store/restaurant experience by providing music that matches the brand, which encourages guests stay longer and spend more. Additionally, our full song trackability model allows us to give artists and songwriters usage-based compensation and clear accountability when their music is played.

What inspired you to start Soundtrack Your Brand?

Before Soundtrack, I had built multiple consumer interfacing companies in the music streaming space, including Beats Music, which was acquired and transformed into Apple Music.

When building Beats, I was constantly approached by brands and businesses that wanted to engage in the music streaming revolution.

They wanted to expand their brand experiences with music streaming. When discussing the idea with fellow Swede Daniel Ek at Spotify, it became apparent that they were experiencing the same demand.

We decided to set up a joint venture to go after the global “Audio for Business” market, and Soundtrack was born.

I believe that music is undervalued as an art form and saw that there was significant opportunity for value improvement and growth.

What are the disruptive factors in the music-tech industry?

What makes it so promising?

The music industry is in the middle of complete digitization where the whole value chain, including production, distribution and consumption, are all transforming into the streaming model simultaneously.

This tectonic shift has provided significant opportunity for industry disruption where new startup brands have taken leading roles and old legacy brands that have not been able to adapt have fallen.

But the biggest opportunity presented is that the global music market has grown into a bigger market than ever before currently at $77 billion and that is expected to grow further to $142 billion before 2030.

This unprecedented growth is driven by the global digitization mentioned above and will be shared amongst those technology disruptors that most effectively capture the opportunity.

Describe any Soundtrack Your Brand pivot point, and its impact?

Soundtrack Your Brand started up as a joint venture with Spotify. The initial product MVP was called Spotify Business and was only made available in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

After proving out the concept of B2B music streaming and realizing that the company had the opportunity to go after a global multi-billion-dollar opportunity, we took the decision to pivot away from the Spotify Business product and develop and launch our own independent “Soundtrack” product.

This was the most challenging but, at the same time, the best decision we have ever made.

What have been the primary challenges in your scaleup journey?

The primary challenge has been in reaching product market fit for the global B2B customer.

Realizing this, we set out to progress our offering to include a fully interactive B2B SaaS platform, providing an equally big catalogue as Spotify with +50 million tracks in 75 markets worldwide, requiring us to raise and invest an additional $30 million in product and team development as well as negotiating and closing over a 16,000 licensing deals with labels and publishers worldwide.

Overwinning this challenge has been the company’s biggest achievement. We have now built a significant product leadership and barriers to entry for any competitor wishing to enter the music streaming market for businesses.

Did you have to raise funds from outside investors?

Since inception, Soundtrack has raised more than $50 million from some of the most prominent VC’s in the world, and that has been far from easy. Even if you have a great team, a huge market opportunity and a leading technology and product vision, it all comes down to continuously proving your ability to execute effectively. A business idea and strategy are only a dream if you are not able to prove execution and business results.

For Soundtrack, our vision has always been the same, but the strategy and tactical execution around how to achieve that vision has needed to improve through every round of financing we have secured.

Do you have a thought about the Soundtrack Your Brand “exit” options?

Of course, an externally funded company will have to relate to a future exit, that is the nature of having external investors.

For Soundtrack, we are getting closer and closer to that exit event, so we are starting to think more about it every day.

Currently, we are at a point where an IPO is the most logical path for us in terms of exit.

What is the most important thing prospective investors should know?

The B2B audio streaming market is trailing 5-10 years behind the B2C audio streaming market so, if you like what you see in general from Spotify, Apple Music etc. in the consumer market, you will like the B2B expansion of that market even more.

In B2B, Soundtrack is the unchallenged disruptor and market leader. We are what Spotify was in the beginning of the B2C streaming revolution.

B2B audio streaming is just about to happen, and Soundtrack is in a clear leading position.

What factors influenced your decision to be an entrepreneur?

My mother was one of my earliest mentors. She really opened my eyes to entrepreneurship as a career path. My dad was at the UN and was on the road often, so she was my primary example on how to balance raising a family and building a business.

What is the most important thing you tell other startup founders?

Stay focused. Execution is everything. Ideas are great but learn how to prioritize the right ideas and focus on bringing them to life.

Lastly, tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?

I am a really lousy DJ, so don’t ever ask me to play at your wedding or even at your worst dive bar.

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