Making streaming music safe for work
▶ A Swedish startup is selling background music from the cloud ▶ Commercial streaming “is super-fragmented and dysfunctional”
Not long ago, when Mathias Forslund wanted to rock out while pulling espresso shots at the three Stockholm cafes he owns, he’d burn mixes to CDS. Once he discovered the ease of streaming music at home, he wanted the same convenience at work. But after scrutinizing the fine print on his subscription service, he realized he was breaking the rules. Enter a Stockholm startup called Soundtrack Your Brand .
Forslund today pays Soundtrack about 350 kronor ($42) a month for each of his cafes to have access to 30 million songs streamed from the cloud. He can create playlists that change hour to hour: classic rock for busier times, French chansons when he wants a calmer mood. “I love having so many songs at my fingertips,” he says. “Because it’s so easy to use, it’s perfect for our stores.”
Song-streaming leader Spotify and Apple dominate streaming for consumers, with a combined 43 million paying subscribers, but they don’t have licenses allowing them to offer their service as background music in restaurants, bars, and stores. Soundtrack, by contrast, has secured those rights for the catalog it uses. One-third owned by Spotify, the company is a rising player in the market once dominated by Muzak. Soundtrack lets customers choose from songs by thousands of artists, from Rihanna to Radiohead to the Rolling Stones. The Web interface shows users what’s trending, shares access to curated playlists, and lets them schedule specific songs, bands, or genres to adapt the mix to changing moods throughout the day.
The company’s latest coup: a global deal with Mcdonald’s that allows the fast-food chain’s 36,000 locations worldwide to sign up at a discount to Soundtrack’s standard rate. The agreement gives the company its first foothold outside the Nordic region. About 130 Mcdonald’s franchises in Sweden use the service at present; in the unlikely event that all of the company’s restaurants join, Soundtrack would reap about $17 million in annual revenue. It “can deliver the largest music catalog on the market,” says Lisa Palm-danielsson, head of digital initiatives for Mcdonald’s in Sweden.
Ola Sars, Soundtrack’s chief executive officer, says the contract with the world’s biggest restaurant chain will give his company greater visibility and credibility. Soundtrack is streamed to about 5,000 total locations; it will start earning a profit when that number tops 25,000, he says. The monthly