We often get asked about how we work with music creators to soundtrack the world; here’s everything you need to know about how we partner with and pay music creators from Sweden, the U.S., South Korea, and the U.K.
The original idea
At the time, we didn’t know that the unconventional idea of paying music creators upfront in exchange for ownership of a track’s IP was going to make such a huge difference to the lives of creators, or indeed send such shockwaves through the music industry.
When Peer Åström and David Stenmarck - two of Epidemic Sound’s co-founders who happen to have a combined 220 entries on the US Billboard chart first put the idea down on paper, it was to supplement their work as pop songwriters and producers with an altogether much more achievable revenue stream - one which enabled them to continue to use their musical talent in the studio each day to pay the bills without relying on a need to create ‘the next big hit’.
On coming up with the original idea Peer Åström, says:
“So many of our musician friends were working in coffee shops and bars, trying to make it by writing and gigging on their nights off... we knew there was so much talent there that was not just reliant on hard work but also on catching a lucky, lucky break.
We thought that there had to be a way that they could create bespoke tracks, written to a brief, for a specific purpose, which would allow them to be fairly paid for their work and still give them time to work on the tracks they felt had a shot at the charts. We pitched the idea to our friends Oscar Höglund, Jan Zachrisson and Hjalmar Windbladh, who at the time were wading through the issues that came with clearing music rights for TV and Epidemic Sound was born.”
Our accelerator for music creators
Fast forward twelve years and the two musician founders have passed the baton onto a fellow Grammy Award-winning music team (click here to meet the creators behind the creators), who have continued to build on the original premise to develop the Epidemic Sound offering for music creators.
Former Spotify employee and now Director of Music Distribution at Epidemic Sound, Linn Westerberg is one of the core music team responsible for ensuring that Epidemic’s ethos remains true to the musicians’ interests in which it was born.
“We develop close working relationships with all of the creators we work with, as we keep the number of contributors down deliberately”, said Linn. “I’d say we take on roughly around 1% of the thousands that apply to work with us each year, meaning that we know personally - and listen to - everyone who produces the music which helps Epidemic to soundtrack the world.”
Here’s a bit more detail on what we offer and how we work with music creators:
We offer creative freedom within a framework
Our data puts us in a unique position to brief music creators on the type of music that storytellers are looking for. The writers and producers we work with have often stated that the briefs remove the anxiety of a blank canvas and support the music creators to be creative with the track, knowing that there is a market for what they are working on.
We work closely to develop talent
Our team of talented music A&Rs work closely with each music creator from their initial demos to the final mixes. We get told frequently that it’s this supporting environment which enables them to hone their skill and styles in a short space of time.
We offer access to a worldwide network of storytellers
We enable music to travel through our network of online video creators, broadcasters, small businesses, media agencies, and brands, whilst also distributing music to streaming platforms and pitching to playlists with millions of followers. We credit our artists in the way that they want to be known, and encourage our customers to do the same.
We facilitate collaborations with storytellers
Over the past couple of years we’ve organised a number of events and opportunities for video creators and music creators to collaborate. You can view some of our latest collabs here*:
- Ooyy and Peter Mckinnon chase sounds in Norway
- Lost Leblanc and Smartface meet in the studio
- TheLineUp and Nico Rengifo talk about why music matters
We provide an opportunity for musicians to make a living in music
We’re able to offer this opportunity to music creators and our service to storytellers by being the owner of the financial rights to the tracks. Therefore we ask music creators to not be affiliated with collecting societies, due to many societies having exclusive affiliation agreements. Currently we only work with music creators based in Sweden or the United States of America.
Making a living in music
We get feedback from our music creators and artists stating that they love working in this way because it empowers them to make a living in music in a way which works for their lifestyles.
Some music creators say they love the stability of the upfront payments, whilst some enjoy working with us because of the 50/50 royalty splits or more recently they are happy with the potential of topping up their earnings via our Soundtrack Bonus. Some say the beauty is in the mix of all of our payouts enabling music creators who work with us to earn over $50,000 on average with our top earners taking home more than $200,000 from making music with Epidemic Sound per year.
Here’s a bit more detail on how we pay music creators:
Payment upfront for every track commissioned
We pay anything between $1,200 and $6,000 for each track. This depends on a mix of factors: the needs of the sync market, whether it's an instrumental or vocal track, the role of the music creator in the creation of the track (e.g. producer, composer and/or lead vocalist) and the comparative experience of the music creator.
A 50/50 split on all streaming platform royalties
Thanks to the reach of our storytellers’ channels, many people Shazam the tracks they like and seek them out on music streaming platforms. All royalties we collect from these platforms are split down the middle (50/50), even if the music creators are no longer working with Epidemic Sound.
A quarterly ‘Soundtrack Bonus’ for all music creators
Starting in 2021, Epidemic Sound introduced a Soundtrack Bonus pool, which is set at $2.5 million for the year. Each quarter, music creators will receive a Soundtrack Bonus proportional to the performance of their tracks in our Epidemic Player. In an ever-changing world, our ambition is to continuously develop our compensation model; the addition of the Soundtrack Bonus reflects our commitment to constantly evolve and improve how music creators can make a living in music.
Next up we’ll be sharing stories directly from our music creators on how they make a living in music. Until then...if you have any questions, drop us a note here or visit our ‘For Artists’ page to get in touch with our music team.
*Disclaimer: We pay all of our music creators and content creators for their time and expertise in any collaborations we film.