Soundstripe, a Nashville-based company, is a leading provider of unlimited royalty-free music, stock video, and sound effects for use in videos, podcasts, and other media projects.
It was founded by former touring musicians Micah Sannan (Co- CEO), Travis Terrell (Co-CEO), and Trevor Hinesley (CTO) looking for another way to use their musical talents to create an accessible revenue stream for musicians.
Sannan was a touring guitarist who had been working in live entertainment for nearly 10 years. Knowing that he didn’t want to make working on the road a lifelong career, he started working in the studio with his now business partner Terrell.
“We have this love for music, but we’ve also always had this love for business,” Sannan says. “SoundStripe came along when he and I were producing and pitching little 30 second jingles for big brands. We realized that an email from a music supervisor will go out to a thousand different producers composers saying, ‘Hey, we need this jingle.’ There’s only one spot, so what about the 999 other jingles? What happens to them?
“We were like, ‘There’s got to be all these really great tracks, even the 10 that were in the running that just didn’t make it. What if we could find an audience for those songs.”
Now Soundstripe is a one stop shop for creators needing music for their projects. Driven by a unique subscription model, Soundstripe lets content creators pay a fee for usage of all the media in its catalog, with a la carte licenses also available. This approach has led to over 6 million licenses being issued for tens of thousands of customers in over 140 countries since Soundstripe’s inception in 2016.
“Soundstripe is a service oriented company. We’re here not to be the stars of the show, but to be the supporting character, because truly that’s what we are,” Sannan says. “We’re a tool for your tool belt in order to hopefully increase the value of your productions. That’s the heart behind what we do.”
A wide swath of users make up Sounstripe’s customer base, ranging from independent filmmakers to massive companies. “Our most predominant users self identify as professional editors. These are people who work with advertising agencies [and other clients]. They are individual, independent filmmakers. We also have a lot of wedding videographers and social media content creators,” Sannan says. “Microsoft and Volkswagen are also customers, so it goes all over the place.”
Soundstripe has nearly 70 team members, nearly a third of which are musicians, producers, and engineers who make some of the music on the platform. “We have an internet company that has all the things an internet and technology company has: a marketing department, an engineering department, product department, and customer success department. On the other side we have, essentially, what is a record label/publishing company/distribution company, where we make an unbelievable amount of new songs every month,” Sannan says.
In 2020, Soundstripe was named to the prestigious Inc. 5000 list, where its growth rate of nearly 5,000% over the last three years placed it at No. 68 among the fastest growing private companies in the U.S., as well as No. 5 in the Media category and No. 1 in Tennessee. In addition, the company was named to the Tennessean’s Top Workplaces list for the second year in a row this year.
A lot of Soundstripe’s music is created by a slew of talented full-time, in-house musicians, producers and mixers.
Sannan explains, “If you look at what a software engineering department looks like, we did that, but with musicians. There’s people that are gifted at mixing, so we employ a handful of mixing engineers. There are people that are gifted at composing, so we employ a handful of those folks. There’s people that are great at producing. We put them together as a team.”
Soundstripe paid out over $2.5 million to music creators throughout 2020, including 75 unique artists from whom the service sourced content. While a majority of the music is sourced locally in Music City, some artists come from all over the world, spanning 18 different countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, England, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, Sweden, and the U.S.
Matt Wigton was a touring musician for 20 years before he joined Soundstripe. “I’ve always been a composer my whole life. All the way back to when I was a little kid, tinkling on the piano and creating songs inspired by movies that I had just watched. So when the Soundstripe thing came to be, I was just starting to find my voice as a producer and they gave me a home to continue to grow and explore all these different avenues, sonically and genre-wise,” he says.
Wigton composes and produces music ranging from pop and low-fi hip-hop, to classical music, to world music.
Other than when a client approaches Soundstripe with a specific need, Wigton says he has the creative freedom to make the music he wants to make. “I generally try to use my best intuition and devote time to what I feel is going to be used. It’s almost like playing mind reader with our clients because you’re not scoring the picture, but your music will be more than likely used in picture, whether it be in like Instagram stories, YouTube videos, actual TV commercials, etc.”
He even has different monikers that he releases each style of music from, both on Soundstripe and on streaming platforms.
“Almost all of my monikers have presence on those platforms. It’s an interesting world because I’m not an artist, per se, but at the same time I treat my music as such. I feel like it is artistic and I put a lot of intention and time into that,” Wigton says. “I do actually have a fair amount of monthly listeners. For example, I like to produce lo-fi hip-hop music. That’s something that I usually do at least a couple of tracks a month, and that stuff is really popular with people’s study music. It’s a very interesting fine line balancing the world of our existence on our platform and our existence on all the DSPs.”
Wigton is thankful that he gets to work on a blank canvas every day.
“It was a dream of mine for a long time to exist as a musician in the studio world, like The Wrecking Crew days or Hitsville in Detroit, where your job is just to walk in the studio every day and you’re just recording record, after record, after record. And that does happen here in Nashville, I feel like Nashville is one of the last bastions of that type of existence,” Wigton says. “I feel like, in a weird backdoor entrance kind of a way, I have worked my way into a situation where I’m doing exactly that just not as a player, but as a composer and producer, which I’m very grateful for.
“This is like the best job ever, truly,” Wigton sums. “I just feel like to have a job like this through the current climate, I’m very fortunate and extremely grateful for that.”