As Splice Sounds populates the hit songs of Dua Lipa, Doja Cat and Justin Bieber, CEO Steve Martocci breaks down its DNA
The last episode of VarietyThe “Strictly Business” podcast by features Steve Martocci, the founder and CEO of Splice, an online music marketplace where, for a monthly fee, creators can acquire the parts that make up music – loops, one-shots ( or specific drum beats that can be used and manipulated), different instruments and sounds both synthetic and analog – and use them fully licensed and royalty-free.
With two million sounds and four million users, Splice has become the benchmark for hitmakers and newbies alike and its DNA can be heard on the songs of some of today’s most popular artists, including Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Bad Bunny and even rumored Adele.
When Martocci founded Splice in 2015, he already had a lot of experience as an entrepreneur – and a successful one. He was co-founder of Blade, the helicopter ride-sharing service, and GroupMe, a group text messaging service acquired by Skype.
But music is not an industry for the faint of heart. With its complex network of rights related to publishing and recorded works, it can stifle even the most promising idea or platform. There are many dead bodies along the way – from Napster to Limewire to Myspace to Turntable.fm and more. – and as the music industry has evolved, so have the needs of its creators.
For Splice, Martocci figured out what creators don’t need: an expensive recording studio with all sorts of equipment and instruments that load by the hour; cost-prohibitive platform-specific “plug-ins” that they may not end up using, instead opting for pirated versions that may not work as a piece of music progresses from one person or platform to another.
Those who make the sounds that populate Splice also benefit – financially. They earn a share from every download of their sound. A popular sound, like the one in the Oliver pack, named after one of Splice’s top creators, could be downloaded over a million times.
Collaboration is central to Splice’s philosophy and its track record has attracted venture capital. The company recently closed a fourth funding round led by Goldman Sachs, bringing its valuation, according to Bloomberg, to around $500 million. But the even more impressive figure is the $55 million Spice paid out to creators, up significantly from the $40 million announced at the end of 2020.
The COVID pandemic has only helped Splice grow as more and more people tinker indoors with music production. In fact, a recent study noted that 68% of independent artists made more music during COVID and 36% did more online collaboration during lockdown. It’s good news for Splice and brings more challenges for Steve Martocci, who manages a team of more than 200 people, a third of whom were hired during the pandemic.
Martocci’s ambition and passion is what drives Splice on a daily basis and he has done an admirable job of marrying technology to music, as revealed in this conversation recorded in December 2021.
Listen to the latest episode of “Strictly Business” below or wherever you get your podcasts.
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