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Style, innovation & equality

”It’s an exciting time for the music industry — particularly for emerging artists”

Right before tonight’s launch of Scandinavian MAN Issue 5, which includes a Music Special, we speak to music tech company Epidemic Sound’s CEO Oscar Höglund about challenging an entire industry.

Words: Johan Magnusson

Höglund grew up in the UK and moved back to Sweden when he was 12. After studying business and becoming a Management Consultant at Boston Consulting Group, he realized that he was really searching for a role model.

— Someone whose mindset and life I could aspire towards. I didn’t have one, so I quit and took a job at Zodiak Television, which is where I met Zacke, he says, continuing,

— We hit it off instantly and he quickly became my role model, friend and then one of my co-founders of Epidemic alongside Pär Åström, David Stenmarck and Hjalmar Winbladh.

Tell us about the company. And you’ve been running for a decade, how have these first ten years been?

— They’ve been great — Zacke and I knew Epidemic was the one straight away. Sometimes you just know, right?

— When we were at Zodiak, we saw first hand how much of a nightmare it was to license music — the process took some of the joy out of creating in many ways. And meanwhile, the music industry itself was broken — it massively favoured the middle men and the majority of musicians were losing out big time. We founded Epidemic together in 2009 to solve both these problems and enable people to license music to use in any channel, anywhere in the world at any time. Ten years later we’re over 400 people working towards this vision across nine major cities around the world.

And, more specifically, what do you do?

— We’re a music licensing platform that helps storytellers easily soundtrack their videos and content with music created by some of the world’s most talented emerging artists, who gain exposure and build fanbases at the same time, says Höglund. He continues:

— We work with storytellers of all kinds: from huge broadcasters and production companies to media and advertising agencies, as well as multinational retailers, brands of all sizes, YouTubers and all other online video creators. Our music can be heard in the YouTube videos by the likes of Will Smith (6.6 million subscribers), Jack Black (4.2 million subscribers) and PewDiePie (over 100 million subscribers). It has also been used in series like Netflix’s Drug Lords and Living With Yourself, adverts for brands like Pepe Jeans and LG, as well as retailers like Burger King and Radisson.

How is the music industry doing these days?

— It’s an exciting time — streaming has really changed the game. Particularly for emerging artists. Whereas before, just a handful of people and radio controllers could decide what was good, now everyone can hear a track they like in a TV series, an online video or even in their favourite store, and then straight away start following the artist on music streaming platforms. We’re seeing more and more of Epidemic’s emerging artists building fanbases in this way and it’s definitely a trend we think will continue to go from strength to strength.

What’s next for you?

— We’re starting to experiment more with collaboration between our music and video creators. They’ve been thriving off each other as part of the Epidemic system, and now we’re seeing what we can do to bring these networks even closer and fuel their creativity. We’ve also got our annual music summit in New York coming up in December, which is always brilliant. Around 30 music creators collaborating together in the studio for a few days, I can’t wait to hear the tracks that come out of that.

And what are your future plans?

— We’ve just opened our second office in Stockholm and we’re really doubling down on maintaining the growth we’ve seen over the last 18 months, both here in Sweden and around the world in our US and European offices. We also announced over the summer that we’re expanding into South Korea, which will be our first office in Asia, so we’re laser focused on growth at the moment to continue on our mission to soundtrack the world, says Höglund.

The company also host what he describes as ”an epic music festival” once a year, seen at the picture above.

— So if you want to hear from some of the hottest emerging artists, stay tuned for more information on it in the new year.