Founded in 2013 with Spotify as a co-founder, Soundtrack Your Brand operates in 73 countries and competes in the background music segment with startups like Rockbot as well as with entrenched players like PlayNetwork and Mood Media, which rely more on in-store physical boxes, USB sticks or satellite connections to broadcast their music. (Mood recently filed for bankruptcy protection, citing, in part, stronger competition and pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The UMG deal, which excludes China, means Soundtrack Your Brand now has direct licensing deals with all three major labels, meaning it doesn’t need do business with SoundExchange, the performance rights organization. It also has direct deals with more than 9,000 publishers, allowing the company to offer performing rights in its subscriptions, meaning a Soundtrack customer does not need to pay ASCAP or BMI. Soundtrack charges $31.49 a month for a subscription.
A 2018 study on background music by Nielsen Music (now MRC Data), commissioned by Soundtrack, found that 21.3 million businesses are using illicit consumer services, leaving an estimated $2.65 billion in revenues a year untapped for the global music industry. With an estimated 88% of businesses playing music four or five days a week and 86% prepared to pay for an improved service, the opportunity is substantial, Nielsen found. (The study engaged with 5,000 small businesses across seven countries: the U.S., U.K., Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy and France.)
"The UMG deal confirms the future model for background music, providing the world’s first music offering for businesses on par with consumer services like Spotify and Apple Music," Ola Sars, Soundtrack’s CEO, tells Billboard. "It provides the option for 20 million businesses to switch from illegal usage of consumers services to a legal option, securing fair compensation to labels, publishers, artists and songwriters."
James Healy, senior vp digital strategy and business development at UMG, called Soundtrack "a partner whose technological and strategic reimagining of an evolving business-to-business model will support us in ensuring creators are valued and fairly compensated."