Swedish Startup Space

Ex-Beats Music co-founder and COO Ola Sars launches B2B platform for playing Spotify legally on business premises

Written by on June 2, 2014

Most of you probably don’t know, but it’s actually illegal to use Spotify in your cafe, nightclub or restaurant. To solve that problem, Spotify for Business was launched and first company to take advantage is Soundtrack Your Brand. In short, Soundtrack Your Brand have created a B2B music platform aimed at businesses wishing to play, curate and organise music for their premises.

The co-founders, Ola Sars and Andreas Liffgarden have known each other for years from the music industry, and they recently held one of their quarterly get-togethers. The two always enjoy catching up, but little did they know that this time would be different – because by the time the meeting was over, they decided to start a new business.

Ola had stubbornly been trying to crack the music curation dilemma with his previous start-ups Pacemaker and Let’s Mix, and was now a part of the Beats Music team – soon to become Spotify’s biggest challenger in the US market. Andreas was one of the first non-coders to be hired at Spotify, and had been working with their business development team since 2007.

I decided to have a chat with Ola Sars to find out more about his background and experiences.

“Trying to be cool in my school in Södermalm, Stockholm, I early on used music as an identifier for my personality; wearing all black during my The Cure and Depeche Mode years, in my teens moving into sneakers and caps during the hip hop revolution…”

“Soon I also understood that music and sub-culture could be a source for revenue, so during my first years in high School, I started creating parties and clubs, soon becoming the only club promoter in school.”

“During my final year in high school I secured the financing for our class trip to the Greek islands with party revenues generated through school parties in our gymnasium.”

A massive, untapped market

Ola and Andreas started talking about how Spotify would be the ideal platform for connecting brands with their fans. Andreas explains. “When I was at Spotify and Ola was at Beats, we constantly had to turn down requests from major brands to invest in our platforms and source music to their customer touch-points in the physical world”.

And that is how “Soundtrack Your Brand” was born, after a chat with Martin Lorentzon, chairman and founder of Spotify, listened to their pitch and liked the idea.

“Both me and Andreas knew this market had a massive potential. The global market for Recorded Music 2013 accounted to $16 Billion, whereof B2B music currently constitutes approximately $1 Billion and global ad spend 2013 accounted to $550 Billion. Spotify for Business will become the platform for facilitating those marketing and brand investments towards music”

After having Spotify onboard, they felt like they had the perfect set-up:

“We usually describe Soundtrack Your Brand as the the perfect set-up. The small agile start-up backed by the clout of a leading brand. Spotify is our partner and a major investor, so we involve them in our overall strategy as well as our ambitions to grow the business. But we own the plan and decide how to run the company. Basic corporate governance.”

“We usually describe Soundtrack Your Brand as the the perfect set-up. The small agile start-up backed by the power of a leading brand.”

Finally, I asked Ola what companies he is most proud of and if he has any regrets.

“I don’t regret anything, all of my many mistakes have been my best experiences to improve my game moving forward. I am proud of all of them, small or big, successful or total disasters. I am proud of the fact that I stubernly have stayed in the digitalized music market for so long, and have stubernly tried to combine my passion fro music with my passion for building products and businesses. Today it has proven to be pretty good move after all.”

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