Music creation platform Splice is valued nearly half a billion dollars this week, following a $55 million investment from Goldman Sachs as well as from an investment firm called Music, according to a report from Bloomberg — the latest affirmation for the booming do-it-yourself music ecosystem.
The DIY and independent music scenes have been expanding for years, as at-home recording technology improved in leaps and bounds. But Covid-19’s circumstances dramatically accelerated that growth, leading amateurs and budding musicians everywhere to start making music from their homes. Last April, toward the beginning of the pandemic, Splice, which offers several key tools for at-home recording artists including production tools, a beat maker and hundreds of thousands of royalty-free samples for songs, told Rolling Stone it had been seeing a million downloads on its samples per day.
Steve Martocci, cofounder of GroupMe, founded Splice in 2013 as a means of making it easier to create music and found a hungry base of musicians without support from music labels. Its samples and loops, more easily available to Splice users for a monthly fee rather than through royalty payments to the sample’s original creator, are a major draw to the service. “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?’” Martocci previously told Rolling Stone about getting producers to put their music on the platform.
Splice’s recent funding and high valuation underscores the magnitude of music that’s been made in the streaming era. As of 2019, Spotify was adding 40,000 tracks to the platform every day. Much of that music comes from independent artists who lack the funds to record it in-studio and stand to benefit most from cheap samples and home-friendly production tools.
The DIY movement is most synonymous with indie artists, but it’s picked up traction even among major pop stars. Billie Eilish made most of her Grammy-sweeping When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go from her childhood home alongside her brother and collaborator Finneas. And in the early days of lockdown last year, Charli XCX recorded much of her acclaimed pandemic album How I’m Feeling Now from her house in Los Angeles.
The pandemic seems to have led more people as a whole to take up music; Rolling Stone reported last month that online music retailers like Reverb and Guitar Center, for instance, have seen a major surge in instrument sales. And much of those sales came from first-time players.
Yet, while Covid-19 may have stirred more demand for a reliable means of creating music from home, the demand itself was years in the making. As Finneas said in 2019: “[Recording at home is] how everyone except for the biggest stars is doing it now.”