Subscription music-streaming has ushered in new growth for recorded music. But you can’t keep up that growth without also making it easier in the first place for artists to create new songs — the very products that power this new economy — argues Splice, a tech start-up that wants to not just help artists create more music, but make its creation much easier.
Founded in 2013, Splice is a cloud-collaboration service for artists that also offers production tools, a “Beat Maker,” and an expansive $8/month library of royalty-free loops and samples. Its samples have been used in chart-topping hits by Drake, Sebastián Yatra and Maren Morris, streamed over 60 million times by Splice’s users, and given a windfall of $20 million to the producers who made them. Earlier this year, the company raised $57.5 million to continue improving its tools for creators interested in designing and selling short snippets of sounds rather than more fleshed-out melodies.
But convincing music creators to put their sounds on Splice was not easy. “When we first started, people were like, ‘there’s no fucking way I’m giving you my samples. Why would I give my secret sauce out?’” says CEO Steve Martocci, an engineer who drew inspiration for Splice from the open-source software world. He built his previous company, GroupMe, in 24 hours with colleagues at a hackathon; it taught him that sharing the creative process with others could make for a better product. “There’s so much you can learn from how much programmers share,” he says. Splice, whose officially-registered business name is “Distributed Creation Inc,” gained traction in the industry by being transparent about its premise, eventually netting producers like Oak Felder, Ian Kirkpatrick, and Rihanna collaborator Wondagurl. One significant competitive advantage for Splice is that it’s run into virtually no licensing issues, since it sells new, original creations rather than extracting samples from existing recordings.
Martocci believes sharing one’s creative process with collaborators helps make a better product, and he thinks of Splice as a “multi-generational business” for pros and novices alike. “If you stick to that ethos of letting creativity flow and fostering an open ecosystem, it’s never ‘mission accomplished,’ ” he says.