A Swedish startup that wants to bring music streaming to businesses has raised $US22 million (£17.5 million) in a round led by first-time investors Balderton Capital and Stockholm-based Industrifonden.
The cash will fund the company’s overseas expansion to the US, Asia-Pacific, and Europe and brings its total funding to $US40 million (£32 million).
Soundtrack Your Brand was set up by Beats Music cofounder Ola Sars and former Spotify exec Andreas Liffgarden in 2013, after the pair found cafes, restaurants, and shops were reliant on CDs to play music in-store.
With early funding from Spotify and others, the duo built a music streaming service which manages licenses for businesses, and lets them control music across multiple stores.
Now, according to CEO Sars, the company has taken 30% market share in the Nordics.
“We’re just coming out of the gate for global expansion,” Liffgarden added in an interview with Business Insider. “Last year, [revenue] grew 400%. We have a two-year plan and see a clear route to profitability if we choose to take that route.”
For Sars and Liffgarden, the consumer music streaming market is “thinning out”, while business remains a “multibillion dollar” untapped market.
“I think the winning horses are on the startline — it will be Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon, or Beats may have a chance,” said Liffgarden. “Already back then there was financial stress on Aspiro [now Tidal] and Deezer, people have written about Soundcloud. Lots of areas can be disrupted with tech in music and we have found one.”
Soundtrack Your Brand is known as Spotify Business in the Nordics, though it doesn’t have the licence to use Spotify’s branding outside that market. The company employs 65 people, mostly comprising engineers in Stockholm, plus sales teams in London and Seattle.
Asked whether Soundtrack Your Brand had poached staff from one of the many music services founded in the Nordics (like Tidal, Spotify, and SoundCloud), Liffgarden said: “There’s been no stealing from Spotify. We thought that when we tried to build an ecosystem of startups in Northern Europe, in Stockholm, it would be a bit cheeky to nick staff from our fellows. We tried to stick together as an ecosystem.”
There are some ex-Beats Music staff on board who didn’t want to move to the US after Apple acquired the company, Liffgarden added.
The company will focus on its US expansion, where it already has McDonald’s as a client. “This company is going for the global market,” said Liffgarden. “If it takes us three or 10 years, it doesn’t matter.”