First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Oscar Höglund: We’re all safe and well, thank you. I have three children who have been at home with us for a while now. With five of us in our flat, the fight for the internet can make for an interesting working-from-home situation, but we feel incredibly lucky to get to spend so much time together right now.
Tell us about how you founded or joined Epidemic Sound?
Oscar Höglund: The original idea came from two successful musicians and Epidemic co-founders, Pär Åstrom and David Stenmarck, who have had over 220 entries on the US Billboard working with the likes of Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Cee Lo Green. They were on a flight to produce a track for Celine Dion and got talking about how many of their musician colleagues didn’t have financial or creative stability in the traditional music industry.
Meanwhile, Jan Zachrisson and I were turning The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into a TV series here in Sweden and licensing music for it was always the most painful part of the process. The four of us were introduced by our fifth co-founder, Hjalmar Winbladh – a digital entrepreneur who founded the world’s first mobile internet company, Sendit (which was acquired by Microsoft in 1999) – and together we founded Epidemic Sound in 2009 to solve these two problems.
How does Epidemic Sounds innovate?
Oscar Höglund: It feels like this has been built in from the start. We were the first company to simplify music licensing by owning the rights to our tracks and then introducing a subscription model so storytellers could easily access the music they needed for their videos.
We’re also first when it comes to exploring and providing new ways for storytellers to get great music. As an example, we’ve just partnered with Adobe to integrate 27,000 Epidemic tracks into their Premiere Pro and Stock products. For content creators, this means they can easily and quickly discover the perfect track to soundtrack their content, straight from the video software they’re using. For our music creators, it means their tracks can be discovered, used and shared more easily, helping them to reach new listeners and build a following.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Oscar Höglund: We’re seeing some interesting digital trends when it comes to video creation as people are needing to both tell and listen to stories more than ever right now. More and more videos including Epidemic Sound music are being uploaded to YouTube and this is generating huge exposure for our music creators to be discovered through apps like Shazam and build their audience.
It’s a challenging time for everyone, but I’ve been inspired when speaking to our content creators about how they’ve been adapting to the limitations of lockdown and creating new types of content. Coming together as a creative community to share stories like this is exactly what’s needed at the moment.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Oscar Höglund: We have had to make some difficult decisions, and Covid-19 has accelerated our transition into becoming a digital-first company. This was a trend that was already present, but we’ve seen more and more people looking to access music digitally – something that we think will continue for a long time to come.
Ultimately, the main lesson we’ve taken from this is the importance of keeping your company’s purpose in mind at all times. It should guide all that you do and every decision you make.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Epidemic sound in the future?
Oscar Höglund: For me, I’ve always tried to surround myself with great people. It’s inevitable that there will be challenges along the way and having people around you with the expertise to keep things moving in the right direction is crucial.
Epidemic Sound has been around for 11 years now. We first set ourselves the mission to soundtrack TV, and then to soundtrack the internet. We’re now on a mission to soundtrack the world and we’re excited to continue working towards that together with our global community of creators.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Oscar Höglund: We have competitors doing aspects of what we do but there isn’t one competitor that soundtracks television, video and spaces like we do. Our focus is on staying true to our purpose of fuelling our creators’ success – we want to change the game for them, not stay in one that doesn’t give them what they need to thrive.
Oscar Höglund: Never in the history of creation and creativity has there been as much innovation as right now. Despite all the current challenges, I believe we’ll look back at this period of time as a creative renaissance. There is reason to be both hopeful and humble in this.