Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. And in addition to doing these interviews, you know, I, I run and 2019, I decided I’d run a marathon on every continent. And I decided to also videotape it and to learn how to shoot video. I started watching these videos on YouTube about how to shoot video and every freaking one of them says, we are sponsored by epidemics sound.
If you want to create like a good video, you need music in the background. Use this, use the company that we use epidemic sound, and they told us how they used epidemic sound. They recommended epidemic sound. They profited it from epidemics. I signed up and a. And I liked it. And long after the marathons were done and I published my YouTube videos, I kept using epidemic sound because I found myself enjoying shooting video of the day-to-day life of my family and the stuff that I was doing.
And I wanted music and I didn’t want to get pulled by YouTube or some other. And frankly, actually I don’t even publish my personal stuff on YouTube. I just wanted to pay the creators and make sure that if it ever got somewhere that. It would be kosher. And so I signed up for epidemic sound and the reason I like it anyway, all this is to say, I’ve got the founder on here.
I want to know about how big the business is. His name is Oscar Hoglund. He is the creator of epidemic sound. They’re the company that wants to be the soundtrack of the internet. And, uh, I want to find out about how he built up his business. And I’ve got to tell you, Oscar, one of the things that I love about about epidemic is it just makes it easy to search.
I don’t think that your price is mind-blowingly different. I can’t even remember whether you’re more expensive or less expensive than others. I don’t know how many sounds, how many soundtracks you have. It’s just that it’s easy to search. You know what I mean?
Oscar: Cool. Wow. What an intro. Thank you for saying that. And yeah. Thank you for letting us dive right in. That’s um, that’s what we do. That’s what we’re passionate about. And um, I’m very excited to join you here today from a very cold I might add in damn Sweden. It’s like Arctic cold here.
Andrew: And I’m in, I’m in Austin where it’s super hot and I keep trying new office spaces and new recording systems here. And this one’s kind of interesting, but it’s hot. I should say this interview is sponsored by two phenomenal sponsors. The first I’m going to be using them in 2022 to pay my team. It’s called Gusto.
And if you want to try them out, go to gusto.com/mixergy. And the second is the company that hosts my website. It’s HostGator. Go sign up at hostgator.com/mixergy. I’ll tell you about them later. First Oscar, how much revenue you guys do? And let me, let me know how big the business is.
Oscar: So we’re roughly a a hundred million dollar business now, and we are a so-called SAS. So we’re a subscription business and we’ve been, um, we’ve been building the business for about 12 years. Um, I sometimes chuckle when people say that we’re an overnight success and I go, yeah, we are. But it took 12 night to create 12 years to create that overnight success.
Um, but we’ve, um, we’ve had the good fortune to fail, to scale quite fast, uh, slow, uh, during the first course of. Eight initial years. And then during the last couple of years, it’s accelerated quite a bit and to a large part, thank you to, um, where you were just explaining the huge endorsement that we’re getting from the online community.
Andrew: That’s when I felt like it. I started to see it everywhere. When you guys took on YouTube influencers, creators, right? That’s when the thing blew.
Oscar: Yeah, I would definitely argue and say so. Um, but I would also say that that wasn’t actually so much a fluke. It was very much by design in the sense that, um, when we set out to build the company, we had a very clear purpose. There was something that we very much wanted to achieve. Um, I’d be happy to dive in and tell you about it.
Andrew: Yeah, let’s go, let’s go back into it. In fact, I’d like to just go step before, and that is to say you were working at what seemed like not every 20 something year old person’s dream, but a lot of them at 23, you were working and living in the French Alps as a ski guide. I never had that passion. Why do people love it?
Why do they want to do it?
Oscar: Um, for me, it was pretty straightforward. Uh, besides being a Francophile, I love everything’s France. I speak a miserable French, but, uh, I’m proud of doing it?
skiing is one of the few times when my brain actually rests, I don’t know how you are Andrew or how your listeners are, but I’m one of those person, people where it’s difficult for my brain to just completely rest.
And I like to think that happens when. Um, even though sometimes I wake up, I’m not so sure, but when it definitely happens is when I go skiing, because when you’re in the slope and you’re heading down a mountain, um, speeds can be quite high. The stakes are quite high, and I have a tough time thinking about anything besides the slope, the moment the skiing.
So it might be physically very enduring, but mentally it’s my happy place. I’m S I’m never as relaxed as when I’m in the mountains and skiing. So that was the wind for me. And that’s what I wanted to do time and time again. And normally you go skiing for a day. And I had the, uh, I had the time I done my military service.
I’d done my studying. And so I took half a year off and I lived there as a ski guide. And it was, it was.
Andrew: All right. I guess I always thought it was about like hanging out and dating a lot, but I think the idea,
Oscar: There’s definitely dating and then there’s drinking and then there’s all different kinds of things. But I think at its core, it was about pursuing a dream, which was, I’d done it for since ever in Sweden. It’s it’s second nature to go skiing. uh, we’re an outdoor people, but always just during the course of a weekend or at most a week.
And the thought of doing something for six months straight, it was just amazing.
Andrew: you know, when you put it that way, I finally understand it for me, that would be cycling. If I could just go do cycling every single day for months, uh, that would be, and listen to podcasts and audio books. That would be my dream. Meanwhile, you were, you were at the airport checking in German tourists, and then what happened?
That was so life-changing in that moment.
Oscar: Yeah. So bringing us back to that moment.
Um, I was in the French Alps. I was dirt poor, but could barely make end meets. I shared an apartment with five other guys. I actually slept with my skiing helmet on because I slept under the table And people would come home from after ski. And they’d had quite a few different drinks and they were wearing ski shoes, which are quite big and heavy.
And if they weren’t careful, they kicked me in the head. And so I wore my ski helmet. And so it was on the very non luxurious conditions, but I loved it. And I picked up an extra gig, which was working as, as, as, as a professional guide. And I’ve found myself, um, skiing with tourists from initially the Northern parts of Europe and then eventually with everyone.
But then that escalated slowly but surely. And eventually I found myself. Tour buses. I was doing less skiing. I was on tour buses going in and out of airports and checking people into their rooms and receiving complaints. And I basically got pulled into a job that I didn’t sign up for. And so I reached out to my, to my Danish manager and we had a discussion and it escalated into a row.
And then in a fit of anger, she fired me on the spot and I was mortified. I was, I was 18. I was dreading having to call my parents and say, look, mom, dad, I’m sorry. I got fired. And it wasn’t so much for the financial shortcoming, even though that was substantial, because like I said, I was dirt poor. It was more the stigma.
Like you, you’re not supposed to get fired, especially not if you’re sweet, we’re like Lutherans and we’re supposed to be hardworking and do a good job. And, and you clench your fist in your pants and you just keep at it. But my, my lid burst and we got an around, I got. And it was, it was initially it was humiliating, but the takeaway, the learning was that at a certain point it took maybe 48 hours.
Um, I came to a totally different realization. I came to understand that, hang on, I stood up for my values and my beliefs. I was doing something I didn’t sign up for. I didn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t following my passions. I said, that’s of enough’s enough and sort of things escalated. And I, and I got fired and it dawned on me that if this is the worst thing that can happen from being fired, it’s not that bad.
Why are people so hung up on being, uh, hired? What’s the whole point about having this one sort of work for the rest of your life and, and, and just escalation escalating the notion of being fired that disappeared. And that was a huge eyeopener for me because it allowed me to be much more open-minded in terms of what different path careers was or what different paths my career potentially.
Andrew: And that kind of got you into movie-making right. You were working on the girl with the dragon tattoo and other productions. What were you doing there?
Oscar: Um, that’s a question that my boss has probably asked themselves time and time again as well. I might add. Um, so I, I came to work with storytelling from sheer serendipity. So I was a numbers guy for a very long time. So I went to business school. I found myself at Wharton over in the U S and I moved back to Europe and I started working as a management consultant, and I did that for a year and a half, and I was a very mediocre consultant.
Um, and I eventually quit when I realized that. I got tired of working with new people, constantly new projects, new industries, and there?
was no continuity when you were actually intended and supposed to do something. You had to quit hand over to someone else. And it was, it was wildly frustrating. I learned a lot, it was very intellectually challenging and I got to break down super complicated problems and work with my people, but it ultimately wasn’t for me.
So I totally shifted gears. And I was incredibly fortunate to be introduced to a company called Zodiac television, which we’re making TV shows. They were production company. And, um, I was hired as the CEO’s right hand. And so I made awesome coffee and I took care of our stock listing. I acquired companies and I organize the office party.
And so I, I was thrilled.
So, um, I was a numbers guy and so we built so neck into one of the largest production companies in the world. And so we started out being big in Sweden as it were. And then in the Nordics, in Europe and view, eventually we went on to make films, which did incredibly well. So as you referenced, we did the go with a dragon to two, and I want to be super clear.
I paid a tiny, small part in, in some doing those. We did first, the Swedish ones, and then we did the American ones. Um, but the point being, I got to work with storytelling and I got to work with people who were wildly different from me. So I came from a context where we were all small clones. We were all these numbers people.
And I was in a context where people had pink hair and they had wildly different experiences. And we came up with these crazy ideas of Robinson Crusoe. I’m putting people on islands and filming them and creating a plot and an entry. And I was good with numbers. And when I contributed people were.
Andrew: So then how did that help you realize that there was an opportunity to create music on a new, on a new subscription basis? Where do you see the problem?
Oscar: So again, we were very fortunate because what we stumbled upon was that we found storytelling, right. I found storytelling and I fell head over heels in love with it. And then we stumbled upon two problems. Um, the first one was related to, um, the demand side. And so as somebody who created television, I would call that a storyteller.
And so somebody who was looking to incorporate music into their story was in horrendous position because. Let me be super clear, adding music. The content is the equivalent of adding tastes to food. It’s so incredibly important because if you don’t add music to your content is not memorable. It doesn’t stick at best. You might like something, but you’re definitely not going to connect with it and love it yet. That
Andrew: what I would think that you are just Oscar. I would think that you’re a nice guy. I would think you would be asking me unless I started to do it myself. And I realized how much music sets. The tone tells me as the creator, how to feel about the piece and how to find the, the way that I, the, the clips that show it.
It also, now I’m paying attention as a viewer. When the music is a certain way, I feel a certain way when it’s changed. I don’t, it’s, it’s dramatic how, how impactful it is. And it’s one of those things like lighting that you don’t think about until you start to engage in, in creation.
Oscar: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And I would take it one step further because I find it so interesting that we have these five senses. Right. And you can choose not to touch something. You can choose not to taste something. You can, you can choose not to watch something. You can close your eyes. You can choose not to smell something by breathing through your mouth, but you can’t turn off your ears.
So it’s the one sense that you can’t disrupt or close down. And so when you think about it, you understand why sound is such an incredible, uh, powerful, um, source of influence because it’s always on and very much to your point. Working with television. We came to realize how important it was that the music element worked.
And yet it was the most broken part of the entire process. We could clear all the rights for everything, bar music. We didn’t know how much to pay. We didn’t know how to report it. We didn’t know in What platforms there were music, cue sheets, there was no infrastructure. You’d ask for music and you get a hard drive from somebody called Patrick.
They were always called Patrick and they would bike out and they’d drop a terabyte of music. It was just an awful experience. And
Andrew: year are we talking about there?
Oscar: so we’re 2008, 2009.
Andrew: 2008, the system still was like that. It wasn’t go log online and
Oscar: I don’t know. It was even worse because no editing suites would have internet because companies back then they were terrified about contracting a digital virus so that their systems would collapse and they couldn’t stream live stream television to a huge network or to those national broadcasters.
So everything was based on hard drives. It was awkward at best.
Andrew: Okay. Okay. I’m seeing this. So then from there, how do
Oscar: So that was the first problem. And so we, we phrased that in a way that we said that wouldn’t it be amazing if adding music to content was the most fun part of the entire creative experience. If it just worked, that’s something that you look forward to. It’s inspiring, it’s inclusive. It’s um, the compatible with how you create it’s, it’s a joy and the flip side, the other problem we stumbled upon was on the supply side.
And so a couple of my co-founders, their music creators themselves as in, um, both producers and artists and the music industry was at best a challenge, but arguably fundamentally broken because the model of music was such that it was a royalty business. And so unfortunately it was being exploited to a fairly large extent because basically what was happening was that music creators were being told that, look, we’re not going to pay you for your work.
We’re not going to pay you a salary. Because there’s the pot of gold and it’s called royalty. And eventually your music will do really well. And there’ll be, that’s how you remunerate yourself. Now, the dirty little secret that people weren’t told was that more than 99% didn’t see any royalty. Hence there wasn’t any way to support themselves.
So people were basically exploiting creators dreams and telling them that that was royalty and that there wasn’t. And, um, This was like a systemic problem. It was middlemen who were able to support themselves somewhat, but music writers in general was struggling quite a bit at no real fault to, to a specific institution, more than the system didn’t work.
And we took issue with that and we felt that that’s a huge problem that, that, that the music business, not so much the industry, but the music business is broken. What if we lived in a world? And I think the technical term we used was what if we lived in a world where musicians could make shitloads of.
How about that? So like how can we solve for a world where musicians can support themselves and where content creators enjoy using music? So these were
Andrew: like a nice thing you say afterwards, but is that really where you were, where you were thinking you weren’t thinking, how do we solve the problem of creators like us to stop having hard drives, driven over to stop wondering whether we could get rights to use music, to stop wondering how much it’s going to cost, but to solve this problem once and for all using the internet.
Isn’t that the way that you were thinking about it?
I, that was a component to it, right? Because that’s very much from a supply perspective. And I think what was valuable for us was that we were five co-founders. So two of us came from storytelling where the problems you explain, where specifically what. Our other two co-founders David and power. They came from the music side of things, where they were seeing that we can’t support ourselves.
The industry is in working for us. And it was in that intersection where we saw that, hang on, this might be flip sides of the same coin, but we’re coming at it from a supply. And from a demand side side,
Andrew: why so many co-founders.
Oscar: that was just certain deputy. That was how it played out. It was, we were the people who complimented each other, who could add the, uh, competing worldviews who had a supply side understanding the demand side, understanding.
And we merged and we met at the right time. And then I think what’s super important to at least our story and to, to my entrepreneurial journey was the founding premise. We had a mutual love for storytelling, and we stumbled upon these two problems, but what made it really tangible and what made it really explosive if you will, is when it came together in terms of a vision in terms of what do we want to do?
Why do we get up in the morning? And for me, it became very, very clear because I’ve referenced that I’m here in Stockholm, but, um, I’m a happy father of three. And my oldest is 14 and I have this super clear version of the future where 20, 25 years from now, I’m going to be walking down here, down the street in Stockholm.
It’s not going to be winter. So hopefully the sun is going to be shining. If I’m fortunate, I’m going to be walking down the street with a grandchild. And at some point I have no doubt in my mind, she’s going to stop in her tracks and she’s going to look at me and she’s going to go grandad couldn’t you argue that basically you’re your generation.
You invented the internet, right? That’s. And I like to think I’m going to know that I’m going to smile and I’m going to go. I normally don’t think about it, but you’re absolutely right. And honey, and she’s going to go, she’s smart. She’s going to go. I think that’s amazing granddad because that’s your generation’s defining moment and it’s your single biggest contribution to all future generations because the intimate let’s face it.
The internet is the fundament of how I express myself, how I educate myself, how I see the doctor, how I shop and how the world works. We use the internet for everything and you built that. So high five and we had to the candy store and then there’s going to be a five minute walk and then she’s going to stop in and attracts again.
And she’s going to look at me and she’s thoughtfully going to tap her cheek and she’s going to go. But grandad, if the internet was the defining achievement of your generation, remind me again, how did you contribute? What was your role in that? Because please don’t tell me that I have to be embarrassed, that you didn’t see that and that you didn’t chip in.
How did you throw your hat in the ring? If that was such a big. And what excited all of us was the notion of that being true and being able to lean into that discussion and say, honey, you know what we exactly. So what was going on 20 years ago? And we decided, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could soundtrack the internet?
What about if we could soundtrack our generation’s biggest collective achievement, we could put creativity and music front and center. We could try and ensure that the internet is this creative, inclusive, diverse entity, where just music floods freely and fairly everywhere. And it’s something that we can be really, really proud of.
And we felt passionately that in that process, we think we can help rewrite an industry. We can turn it into something better than it currently is, and that’s what we set out to do. And I think getting that sense of purpose was so crucial in the early days when you’re a startup and you have huge ideas, vertical means you need something to hold on to it, to really energize you.
That was it for us.
Andrew: I get that, that idea that you’re seeing something huge happen and you don’t just want to be an observer. You want to somehow be a participant in the thing.
Andrew: Okay. And so that was what made you get started? The fi the five of you launched epidemic sound wide, call it epidemic.
Oscar: Um, so there are a number of different reasons and everything. The context here as this is going to be a timestamp document, is that obviously when we found it up dynamic, nobody in our generation or the generation before us had had the ordeal to live through a pandemic. So there wasn’t that reference available.
was more about, um, we saw that, um, we wanted to make sure that there was music, um, so that we could spread music, um, and looking up at some finding names that, uh, sort of start with an early letter in the alphabet that really fit what we were trying to achieve. Um, that was surprisingly difficult.
And then when we found this epidemic just worked really well. It was a word that we could supercharge and fill with like a positive nature. Like I said, um, we now have a pandemics of around us. And so that obviously is some context, but it came from a place of like ambition and making sure that we want music to be.
Andrew: All right. Let me talk about my first sponsor and then we’ll get back into it. And I want to know what the first part is. Um, and then you also didn’t sell it to. Like the YouTubers who I’m familiar with, not in the beginning, I should say I’m switching to Gusto and Oscar. How big is your company? How many people on your team?
Oscar: We’re about 500 people.
Andrew: 500 people. So it gets more and more difficult to. You know, to maintain a payroll when you’ve got more people on it. For me, it’s much smaller, but I want a system that’s easy to use. I want one that makes sense for me and also makes sense for the team that I’ve hired something that works for full-time employees, but also for contractors, I’ve talked to other entrepreneurs that I’ve interviewed.
They use Gusto, I’m switching to Gusto starting 20, 22. I want it in January, just get started fresh and they do full payroll service. They help with medical dental vision. They have certified HR experts on, on staff. They’ve got time tracking, hiring, and onboarding employee finance, and also inexpensive.
Are elegantly, uh, easy to use. And so that’s why I’m switching to them. Anyone else who wants to switch just like me can use the same URL that I plan to use, which is gusto.com/mixergy, G O S G U S T o.com/m I N E R G Y. They’ll give you three months free. Frankly, the product price is so low. That’s not going to be the issue.
This would just be a way for you to go and experiment and see how helpful this can be. And what I like about it is it’s just so super clean and easy to use, and I’m looking forward to using them. And if you’ve got a team again, even if it’s contractors, they’ll work with you and make it easy for you to pay them gusto.com/mixergy.
So I thought you started with YouTube burrs. You told our producers, no, it was television. I guess you just went back to your world and said, how do we make it easy for you? Right?
Oscar: Yeah. So let me give you some context there, Andrew. Um, we set out with a super clear vision as in, we’d like to soundtrack the internet, but that’s a fairly big undertaking, right? Because let’s face it. The internet is huge and we felt that before we run, before we walk, we should probably learn how to crawl and the most difficult, the most.
Um, seasoned customers out, there were TV producers, and we knew that space well, because we come from that background ourselves and we knew that they were accustomed to dealing with music rights, but also understanding and appreciating music and being incredible storytellers back to your point that, um, adding music, it sets the tone.
It helps you to edit. It helps you to be inspired. And it’s such a crucial part of bringing a story to life. And so we said the first four or five years, we were approached by multiple entities outside of broadcasting who had heard of what we were trying to build. And we said, quite frankly, no, we’re not ready yet.
So we had a huge job ahead of us. The job to be done was to build the. Build a catalog, build music, build a business, a business model, a platform that really catered to storytellers. And we thought that if we start with the production company, broadcast is the one who are accustomed to having no budget productions who have like really high aspirations in terms of, I want to use whatever I can, because my budgets are limitless.
It’s more about creating a hit. We felt that if we can hone in on our skills, if we can build a product, so it works for them. Imagine what happens when we then get to unleash that on the internet. When we then get to invite all the words, YouTube is all the world’s content creators, all the world’s Instagrammers.
And when they get to use the same tools at a vastly cheaper price point than anyone else, because the service that it was unique in its kind, and we call it a subscription. So we scrapped the notion of paying per sync or per needle drop And just invite everyone onto that bandwagon. We thought that
Andrew: that was the plan from the beginning to go subscription. That was the plan from the beginning to go subscription.
Oscar: It very much was. Um, because again, taking you back on that, on that journey, we’re in 2008 now and, um, suites are remarkably, um, uh, unremarkable in the sense that there’s a lot of stuff that we get wrong, but there are a few things that we get, Right, And we’re good at engineering and we’re good at music.
And so you typically tend to find that DNA in a lot of the companies that we build here and in, um, just south of the north pole and in 2008 was no exception because that’s when Daniel and Martin founded Spotify. And so we knew them intimately and we were wildly inspired by the paradigm that they discovered because they basically, I would argue not single-handedly, but to a very large extent helped save the music industry and their insight amongst many was that people were willing to pay for access instead of ownership back then you’d buy an album like a CD album for 1520 bucks, and you’d have to listen to the same.
Infinitely time and time again. And their understanding was that we think that the world is ripe for a paradigm shift. And we think that people are willing to pay for access instead of ownership, basically pay for convenience. And when you access to all the music in the entire world, and we saw the immense power that their business model unleashed when they got everyone onto the bandwagon and people started paying a fixed subscription and weren’t as set on owning the underlying album as they were having access to all music ever made in the history of humanity.
That was a huge shift in consumption. And I would argue in culture. And so we were very clear from the get go that we think that’s the way to go. We think that the world’s media companies they’ve been struggling as local storytellers on one platform for one. Fast-forward to today, you look at, I can Netflix, they released tiger king, which is an epic series, but it’s released in 170 jurisdictions across every single country on the planet earth on every single platform.
And so storytelling has gone from this local analog way of telling a story to this always on global distribution form. And we felt that the model had to be subscription from day one so that everyone can subscribe and everyone has access to everything they need because we needed to make it simpler. We needed to make it
Andrew: All right. So the first step you took was you went to musicians, I think you found what was it? 500 tracks that you could own outright and then enable creators to use in their productions. Am I right about that?
Oscar: Yeah. So the way we built the value proposition was that. You could argue that there’s a two-sided marketplace, so that there’s a flywheel going on. So what we said and the F and the fundament here was a huge contrarian bet. So we reached out to music writers at scale, and we said that we would like to acquire your IP.
We’d like to acquire your copyright, which is quite common in the U S they’re called buyouts, but in the rest of the world, very rare. And we said, trust us on this, because we think that if, if we get to acquire your corporates, what we’ll do is we’ll build a catalog with them, build a cultural infrastructure to distribute that catalog we’ll have the means to safeguard the legal validity of all the tracks in there.
And we’ll encourage enable all the world’s storytellers to use that music that will generate two things. One, it’ll give you distribution. So your music gets heard everywhere as we grow. And too, as that happens, you’ll become more and more famous. You’ll be seeing more and more streams, more and more utilization, and you’ll earn more and more revenue, more and more royalty from the music that the catalog Greg’s brings in off the back end.
And the flip side was that we told the same thing to storytellers and as they started using our music, their viewers really engaged with it. They loved it. Um, so much so that we were starting to see a point where YouTube is their number. One question that they were getting was I love the music, where’s it from why can’t I find it?
And so we could create this pool effect where storytellers were really getting engagement and quality and helping their stories bring to life. They were bringing more and more viewers, which brought in better, better music creators, which brought in more music that generated more views. And we had this flywheel and it really started to pick up speed.
I’d say two to three years. And so now I
Andrew: was it? How hard was it to get the musicians to say, okay, fine. I’m going to trust you with my music.
Oscar: uh, I would have S I’d say it would have been near impossible. Had it not been for your initial question where you said like, wow, five co-founders that’s quite a lot. How come? And it’s because we had, within our founding team, we had both storytellers and visual content creators. We had, um, entrepreneurial grit and experience, and we had music creators who had seen incredible success and had some very wide networks of, of, um, uh, music creators.
And we could, we could leverage our combined, um, social capital, I guess you could call it and convince people to trust us because of what we’d done previously. And once we
Andrew: Trust is one thing, but to give up ownership is so big. Isn’t an Oscar. The idea that whatever you make could one day be huge, but you won’t make money from it is such a shocking thing to accept. How do you get some? And it makes sense intellectually, but emotionally it’s a hard thing to accept.
Oscar: Yeah. And I, I think that, um, the journey you’re describing now is an intellectual journey that we embarked on a long time ago. And the route that we took was that’s the knee-jerk reaction. But then if you dig deeper one level and you ask yourself, okay, why are we saying that. IP is important? What’s the underlying desire, like first principles?
What is the music creator looking to achieve? When we say that we think you should own your IP forever and ever. And ultimately it’s two things. I have a voice. I want as many people as possible to hear it. So it’s distribution, that’s one of the underlying needs. And the second one is. So I want to be able to support myself.
I want to, uh, make sure that the craft that I’ve mastered and that I’m very skilled that if that’s commercially successful, I want to have an upside. And we took those two, um, understandings and those beliefs, and we placed the contrarian bed. Cause we said that we think that we can achieve those two goals to a much bigger extent we can extract more distribution.
Andrew: Was it hard to persuade them, to get them to shift where their heart was? Which is I created it. It’s mine.
Oscar: Um, not so much because I would argue that we, we, we, we very much put our money where our mouth is. And so if, if you indulge me, like the music industry was make a track, don’t get paid for it. Wait for it. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. And we flip that around. Basically. I said, No. we’re a group of entrepreneurs.
We’re music, creators, we’re storytellers. We’ll pay you to make music guaranteed. We’ll then put it in the catalog. If it generates royalties, we’ll collect those royalties. And we looked at the industry and we put together the most generous offer. So not only did we buy the IP up front and paid for it, we typically now pay about four or $5,000 per track.
But we then said, if this generates royalties across apple, Spotify, these, or whatever, we’ll collect the royalty and we’ll share all of that with you 50% in perpetuity. And then we’ll also make you a shareholder in the company and you combine that and it became really attractive.
Andrew: wait, what’s the 15%, 15% of what?
Oscar: So it’s not one, five it’s five. Oh, so the flywheel works according to the. We get our generation’s most prolific storytellers like the Pewdie pie, the Netflix, the YouTube, or the Instagram is out there. They subscribed to our music and they incorporate that music in their videos. Right?
Oscar: And the videos get viewed by billions of people.
I think we’re currently, soundtracking 2 billion views, every 24 hours, something like that. So huge footprint now massive portion of the viewers consume the content. They listen to the music and they go, I love this track. It’s being used by one of my most trusted sources of entertainment. And they’re using this music.
It’s great. They pull out their phone, they Shazam it. And immediately they start listening to it on the DSP of their choice. That then generates royalties. Right? Spotify pays that out to us. Apple pays it out to us. So all the DSPs we collect the
Andrew: you wait, you represent it on when I go back and I listened to epidemic sound music on Spotify, your, the person who collects the payment from Spotify and passes it to the musicians.
Oscar: And so instead of there being 50 different middlemen who do that, and at the end of the day, the music creator gets between 10 and 15%. We cut out all the middlemen and then we collect that and we share that 50, 50 straight down the middle.
Oscar: so the result is by soundtracking the internet, we’re creating huge careers for our music creators.
And so even when they leave epidemic, we pay that in perpetuity. And so the model is like very sophisticated
Andrew: then what about the, and you did that from the beginning, giving them a share of you did?
Oscar: Yep. That’s how it works.
Andrew: Yes. Oh, okay. And then the share in the business, you gave them from the beginning to.
Oscar: And so, um, the way we think about remuneration and basically the way I think about business in general is that I’m a firm believer in creating partnerships. I don’t believe in zero sum games. I believe that there is a, win-win almost every time you set out to do something and we’ve been very clear that that’s been our ambition.
So we always look to partner with storytellers, with music creators and create situations where it’s mutually beneficial. So that’s like the founding principle on top of that principle sets we’re never done. And what I mean by that is as we look to try and soundtrack the internet, and as we look to try and build a brave new music industry, we’re committing to ourselves and everyone that we work with.
And we’re saying that we’ve probably not even. Halfway of where we need to be, where we would like to be. And so we’re constantly evolving and we’re always looking for ways to improve our business, our offering, and our footprint. And so when it comes to compensation, that’s no exception. So when we started epidemic the first, uh, when we crawled, we said that we’d like to pay for music upfront.
And so that was the very first iteration. We’d say we will guarantee payment because that was not commonplace. And so we started there, we quickly realized that that was a good starting point, but then we added 50 50 splits when it comes to royalties, we saw what the industry was doing in general. And we said that we can do better.
So if we want to tell this story to future generations, I want to make them proud. So we said 50 50 is the way to go. We then felt we can do the. So we introduced a bonus. So the bonus for this year is $2 million. And so based on how popular your music is, as in how often does attract get downloaded from our catalog, that’s going to provide you with the bonus.
So the more times your track gets downloaded, the larger, the part of the bonus that you get. And then the other year we invited all of our music writers to become shareholders as well. And so, um, we’ve been constantly adding new ways of creating alignment of creating incentive, and basically trying to reinvent ourselves constantly.
Andrew: Got it. So it’s not like a share ownership in the business, but it’s a share of the revenue that comes in from the business.
Oscar: no, I shouldn’t be clearer. It most definitely is becoming shareholders in the business. So we’ve offered them
Andrew: Right now, the musicians are shareholders in the business. They are. Oh, what percentage of the businesses of epidemic sound is owned by the creator by the musicians? Let’s say.
Oscar: Um, so it’s, it’s a single digit, uh, I can’t, and I’m not, I’m not at Liberty to give you the exact number, but so they’re meaningful shareholders.
Andrew: Okay. That’s impressive. And is that the same thing on the other side, do the creators who then use your music? Do you have any of them who are also shareholders in the business?
Oscar: So our storytellers are not the ones where we are, Um,
making them shareholders. And I think the logic is, is for me quite straightforward because we’ve been setting out to change the music industry. We see that the creative economy is flourishing and we see that there are ample opportunities for storytellers.
We’re supercharging them. We’re trying to help them, but the business that we’re really trying to change in, it’s funny. As in it’s a set business that needs changing. That’s the music industry. So we’re looking to usher that into the digital world and create like the framework for how can this work in an environment where you’re looking to soundtrack and be a part of the internet,
Andrew: Okay. All right. I see what you’re going for. So it’s first, you start off with, how do we get musicians to give us their music so that we can then power creators. You call them storyteller storytellers to have access to music that will help improve their storytelling. You get this hard drive worth of 500 tracks.
You start off with that. You start knocking on doors of people in the television industry. It’s mostly friends of friends who then say, sure, we want access to this. They then become your first customers. You start to improve the website experience for them, for television. And then you say, well, we want to empower any creator.
And so we’re going to open this up to anyone you tubers later on Instagrammers, et cetera. Am I, am I getting the timeline?
Oscar: You’re most definitely getting in, right, Andrew?
Andrew: Okay. All right. I want to get some details in here. Like how did you know that it was time to open it up? What happened to the pricing structure when you went from television to, um, to online creators.
And then at what point did you realize that influencers like Peter, Peter McKinnon is one of the people who promoting it, right?
Andrew: Yeah. They’ve got a big heart. I thought for a second. They’re going to say no. So I want to know how you, how you tapped into these creators. The first, I should say this interview, it will go on my website.
My website is hosted by my sponsor. HostGator, if you need. That’s inexpensive that just fricking works. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. It’s already inexpensive. If you throw the slash mixer, John they’ll slap that, uh, slap it slash it. They’ll slash slasher price, hostgator.com/mixer. To get a lower price than everyone else and enjoy great service.
Just like the rest of us who are customers of HostGator. All right. At what point did you decide Oscar to switch to, um, to, to invite the rest of the, the world on not just television creators?
Oscar: So, um, I think the way I would phrase that is I take a step back and I say that for a long time, we’ve, we’ve reasoned according to the following logic. So imagine a room 20, 20 years ago, and it’s yourself, Andrew, and it’s me. And we’re sitting there talking and I’m trying to persuade you. And I go like Andrew, I think that in 20 years from now, every company on the planet earth is going to have a website.
Um, you would have probably said, you’re absolutely crazy. So who would visit those websites who are going to run them? What’s going to be on there. So that’s not palatable. That’s not reasonable. I don’t think that’s the case fast forward to today. And not only did every single company on the planet earth develop.
Every single person on earth developed a website. And then they went on to develop multiple websites. You have a Twitter site, do you have a LinkedIn side? You have a YouTube channel and you have like all these different access points. And so the entire world went plurals, which took longer time, but it became much bigger than sort of any of us anticipated.
We have the same sense when it comes to the internet and video. We think that’s an overtime. We know that as humans, we communicate fairly good with words, even better with writing fairly good with pictures, but video is the medium that carries so much more information, carries emotion and carries animation.
It’s just a much more efficient way of communicating. So we fundamentally think that’s an overtime. Every single company, every single individual is going to communicate through video. Just look at your own feeds like Facebook, Instagram, it’s going from text to pictures to video. And so all of that’s going to need soundtracking.
So we saw this huge opportunity where people initially were like, ah, epidemic. Yeah, that’s smart. You’re familiar companies and we will go. We think that over time, every single company on the planet earth is going to be producing video. Because if it’s not video, it’s not compelling people aren’t going to interact with it.
So we had this very clear picture, everywhere is moving in that direction and the same is going to be true for humans and individuals and take talks. I don’t even have to prove that proof point now because that’s been proven. And so I remember this point where, um, Uh,
I got a call in, in, in I’m in the middle of Sweden and I got a call from the north of Sweden and it was an industrial goods company.
And they’re like, Hey man, And we hope in a car and it’s forever and we come up there and they go, yup. So we’re a fortune 500 company. We create these drills and we sell them, um, to, uh, customers in China. And normally we send over manual 500 pages explaining why our drills are better than the competitors.
Why the cost of ownership is yada yada. And then like six months ago, our Chinese counterparts reach out to us. And they said that your, your Cantonese is embarrassing. So if you send me one more manual, I would probably have to like, kill myself. Why don’t you make. Show me how I change the oil filter. Show me how I educate my Salesforce, show me how I make these reparations myself.
And so this company goes, so we now produce 50 films every frigging month. And we send them all across the world. And if we don’t incorporate music, cause we’re not actors, we’re engineers, the content sucks. We need to add production value because it really needs to travel and age well. And I’m sitting there thinking to myself, there are all these light bulbs going off in my head.
And I’m saying like, this is, this is the moment. This is the proof point like it. And so it begins was literally what I heard in my head, because that was the point where I felt that now this is starting to happen. It’s becoming mainstream and now is the time we should accelerate.
Andrew: and that’s when you said, okay, we’ve been asked by others outside the television industry to let us use our music. We’re going to say yes. And pricing. How did it change when you were opening it up to more people?
Oscar: And so when we kick things off, um, I started flying back and forth to San Bruno where YouTube is headquartered and we started interacting with them. And it was very clear to me that they were super good at solving very large-scale problems, but music was complicated. It’s such an archaic model. It’s regional it’s, um, uh, sometimes nonsensical and it’s difficult to create algos, to work with all the different rights systems out there.
And so we had a very simple solution and we tried for a long time to work directly with YouTube. We do now, but we’re a bigger entity. Back then we were super small. And so I remember, uh, I’m back in LA and I walk past a parking lot and it said Disney on a sign and it was crossed and it said full screen.
And I was so intrigued because I I’d heard of Fullscreen and maker studios and the so-called multi-channel networks, but I didn’t really understand what they were. And so I though when I invited myself and I got a meeting with the founders and I eventually came to understand that Fullscreen and maker was so-called multi-channel networks and they aggregated YouTubers and content creators at scale, and they helped them out.
They were basically record labels, not for music artists, but for video creators. And they were huge educators of a space. And we got to a point where we realized. Hang on. These are incredible gatekeepers. We’re having a tough time working with the juggernauts of our generation and the juggernauts of our industry, the platforms, because their roadmaps are so comprehensive, the so big, even if they like to cooperate, we can’t make the roadmaps fit.
And so we said, let’s double down on the MCN. Let’s get to a point where we can supercharge all the multi-channel networks because they aggregate all of the top tier content creators. And so we struck partnership deals directly with them. So we didn’t have step one. And I think in hindsight, this was a stroke of genius.
Step one was that we didn’t establish, we established a price point. So we looked at how music was being used in other industries. And we sort of came up with a model and a structure for how we wanted to price it. Um, so we landed in like $15 per channel per month is like an epic subscription, like sort of, it’s definitely attainable and sustainable. That’s where we start, but we started this.
Andrew: That’s where you started. Meaning if you want to put the video on YouTube, you pay $15. If you’re also taking it to Instagram, now it’s a 30 and so
Oscar: No. Um, we took it one step further in the sense that how the industry was geared back then was there was a sense of I’m going to call it adverse selection in, as in everyone wanted a cut of your revenue and face value. That seems quite smart because you start out and you don’t have to pay anything because your revenues are zero, but you extrapolate that in time.
And what happens. And I think that this is where the music industry got it wrong. If you look at the music industry, you bet on.
a hundred artists and 90 fail tend to, okay. One is the runaway success. You have to bleed that artists dry to pay for the next batch of a hundred to get to the next one. And so you’re intrinsically setting yourself up for a sour relationship with the artists that.
Pulling in the most value for yourself. So, so, so there’s some, I’m not going to say a flow, but this challenge, that model, and it was similar in terms of everyone wanting a percentage of your revenue, because what ultimately happened was that the people who didn’t have traction didn’t have yours, they were getting a product for free for a very long time.
People who like Peter McKinnon and others who were seeing huge amount of success, because they were incredibly talented, suddenly five, 10, 15% of your revenue is a massive number. And you’re overcharging the people who are most passionate and the best ambassadors. So for us, it was very much about, again, going back to the first principles, what are we optimizing for?
What’s the longterm right.
thing to do. And we struck out and we said that we’re going to be the first subscription music service for UGC. That was unheard of back then. And so we set a fixed, low price, and we said, we want everyone to participate.
Andrew: And so it was $15 in per creator or
Oscar: co-creator at one channel three,
Andrew: Put it wherever you want to put it.
Oscar: whatever you want.
Andrew: Got it. And then at some point you also needed the, uh, the platforms to work with you, right? So that they know that when music is used that’s okay. Because you’ve white labeled the creator, the storyteller.
Oscar: I mean, that’s the beauty of having a principle at heart, which is trying to create partnerships wherever you go. And so what we did early on was we said that we have a long-term purpose here, which is we want to soundtrack the internet. We don’t ever want to commission a takedown. We don’t ever want to Sue anyone.
That’s not in our DNA. We’re here to try and optimize and make sure the music. Across all different platforms, both current and future. And we want to aid storytellers, and ultimately we want to be the BFS. We want to be the best friends forever of the platforms, because if they distribute well, if the system works, they generate distribution.
They generate monetization, which fuels the entire ecosystem. So rather than set ourselves up as counterparts or negotiators, we were very open-minded and said, look, we think that we can help solve issues for you. So the bigger we are, the larger portion of some of your IP challenges that we can solve.
And that was very
Andrew: it. Well, we’ll make it easy for you to know that people are, the creators are using legitimately, uh, licensed music and will allow more music, more music to be in, uh, in the videos that are posted on your platform because we’re going to make it easier for people to use it. Okay. All right. So you had that and then to me, where you, where you started getting on my radar was when, when all these influencers were promoting you, it seems like you started, was it with an affiliate program or was it with one-on-one relationships?
Oscar: Um, uh, I would argue, we started out with one-on-one relationships?
and then we transitioned into affiliate, but I I’d say there, there there’s much more nuance here because the way it played out was that I think history is typically written by the victors and people go or fluffy and soft themselves, and they ascribed way too much value and smartness to their own undertakings.
I’m going to try and do the exact opposite here. So this is how it basically went down. We were, um, providing music to all of these storytellers who were super happy users and they were reaching out to us and they were saying, guys, you know What my number one comment is on all my videos across all my online career.
Number one question I get asked is I love the music you’re using. Where is it from? Why can’t I find this anywhere? And so we were being reminded that YouTube, because YouTube was the only game in town back then today it’s obviously proliferated and there are more, but back then it was YouTube. And we were reminded that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.
Second, only to Google, which happens to own YouTube. So well-played um, and so we’re seeing that we’re getting these huge amounts of distribution and at the same time, We’re charging our, uh, our customer base, uh, a price for providing a marketing service. And we’re not really optimizing the whole notion of being partners.
And so what we ended up doing was we ended up initially doing cold, cold, cold outreaches to our, our customers saying, we, we, we think you’d like our service. No, and they go, I freaking love epidemic. It’s amazing. Uh, you have a super low profile, your Swedes, you never reach out. You never say anything, but it’s, it’s kick-ass this is great.
And we go, thank you. That’s amazing. W w we’d like for you to maybe stop paying for ourselves. And they go, what? Yeah. So here’s the deal. So we have an affiliate link and we think that your view is, are quite keen to understand what the music is from. Right. And they go, absolutely. It’s the number one question.
And so we started providing people with manually created links and where we turn them into affiliates. And we said, well, how about you interact with them? What if you provide the answer to the number one question on all the comments across YouTube and they go that’s content. That’s amazing. Of course I would.
And so we popped that out there and the program just picks up from there. And so we see that we’re super fortunate in the world is, is, is so infatuated with they’re called influencers. They’re called storytellers. They’re called, um, some markets here, but in our world we call them storytellers and we’re fortunate to have them as our customers.
And so we’ve developed that into a partnership where our content fits naturally into their content. And so answering that question just became first off an Oregon. Uh, launch truss and then over time, we’ve just accelerated that. So now we have, we have thousands of ambassadors all across the world. And like I said, our music has paid billions of times every single day.
And you referenced,
Andrew: of your, of your marketing cost goes to these ambassadors?
Oscar: uh, I’m not, I’m not comfortable with giving you the exact number, but I Can say it’s a pretty ex expansive operation. So
Andrew: Can you give me a ballpark? Are we talking about like quarter percent? A quarter of the, of new customers are coming from them half.
Oscar: uh, I’d say it’s a substantial part that, uh, I don’t have the exact number of top of my head and rather than get it wrong, I just say it’s a substantial part. And I think what’s interesting is how it grows because it builds on trust. It builds on people really appreciating and liking the product. And so it’s a, uh, it’s a great flywheel.
It’s a super powerful way of.
Andrew: It also seems to grow when they grow. So one of the people that you have is a guy named David Manning. He just started in his basement shooting videos, I guess he was a wedding photographer, videographer or something. And then he started shooting videos about how to use cameras and what an ISO is and all that.
And then at some point he said, this, this stuff is sponsored by epidemic sound. You know, it was on his site, but as he gets more and more popular on YouTube, those older videos get more discovered and then you get to grow with
Oscar: Correct. So there’s an excellent law longevity because of the nature of content, especially you referenced YouTube now. And I think they have a great catalog. And so you can. New content surfaces, but it’s also a repository for all content, somewhat unsimilar to other platforms where it’s just new feeds coming all the time.
And so the nature of the catalog and the long tail is so incredibly valuable Because per your point, Andrew, as someone gains a bigger and bigger following people are sort of insatiable in terms of their appetite for more content. So they search for it. And they, when they’ve looked at the new stuff, they go to the semi old stuff and then they go to the real old stuff and we try and we very much want to be on a journey with our storyteller.
So we want to be there when they take their first steps, when they start to work, when they start to run and eventually some of them start to fly. We want to be there from the
Andrew: they could go and create an account with you directly on become affiliates directly. So they make money in the beginning and then they, they, you don’t have to wait until they’re huge, by the way. So that’s your big marketing channel. One of your competitors who is founder, I interviewed a while back, embeds themselves into other software.
I’m talking about story Storybox. So if you have like Luma fusion, the iPad app for editing, they incorporate a few free tracks from there, and then you pay to get the rest. And they, I think are in other iOS and iPad apps. Have you tried that or it seems like that might be outside of your model.
Oscar: Um, yes. So it, yes. In the sense that it is outside of our model, um, I think that what we’ve come to understand is that we partner with some of the most prolific brands within our industry, right? And so we are on several of the really large platforms and we coexist together with. I wouldn’t say to a similar nature, but it’s no secret that we are on Canva, that we help power Getty that we are on Adobe.
So some of these
Andrew: Oh, I didn’t realize that. I didn’t realize that. I didn’t know that you were on there. Okay. So you are then in the platforms as part of the software creation.
Oscar: And, and, and I think that’s important for many different reasons. I think one of them is because ultimately what you need to do is you need to sit yourself down in the shoes of a content creator and a storyteller. And You know, this more than the most people under, but creating content is it’s, time-consuming, it’s difficult.
Um, and tactically, it can be quite cumbersome with like a gazillion different programs and whatnot. And so having an ambition to soundtrack the world and being naive or arrogant enough to think that we’re just gonna make everyone on planet earth, visit epidemic sound. Okay. That’s just borderline crazy.
Right. And so I think you need to have a much more agile approach. Where are the customers? And we came to realize they’re definitely Adobe gets the in-camera and so we should probably be there too.
Andrew: You know, what else I’d love is first of all, to be in all those in all those apps is super helpful. I guess it’s not the apps that I’ve maybe I have, I have used Canva. I just didn’t realize it. I think it might also be helpful to have a less expensive package for someone who’s not looking to be a YouTuber.
Like I, I realize that I’m paying for music when I’m just catering to 20 people, you know, in my family when I’m just trying to, but I still want to pay and I don’t want the, I like Ben sound, for example, to really inexpensive, it’s basically like a free pro like a lifestyle project. The person, I think has a hundred songs.
You get to use any one of them for free. If you give them credit and then you pay, if you don’t want to give them credit, that,
Oscar: I’ve met the founder several times. He lives in France. I flown into Stockholm, we thrown parties together. And so it’s a tight knit. Yeah. It’s a tight knit community. So, uh, uh, I know exactly who they are. And, and I agree. I think that the, the place where you don’t want to be though is you don’t want to be liked by everyone, but loved by no one.
And I think that’s striking the balance. I think that you either want to go super niche and be incredibly appreciated by a select group of users, or you want to go ultra big and become a platform. As in one of
the big platforms, you don’t want to be stuck in the middle. And so I think that you need to pick, and I would argue that trying to be everything for everyone is a recipe for disaster.
So Ben sound is one thing where something else and you referenced a few others of our competitors as well. I think that, like I said, the internet is a very big place. I think there’s room for everyone. And I think.
Andrew: is it time to buy Ben sound or someone like that? Because if you’re going to be this, if you’re going to soundtrack the internet, you need a brand that lets you have maybe a subset of epidemic sounds music. Some of it’s amazing search capability. So you can find beats and moods and so on, but also a lower price with, with fewer tracks.
I don’t know. I’m trying to think with you where your future is and what you’re going to be doing.
Oscar: So I mean, Andrew, I would argue that I think that every company has a rhythm. It has a beat that it walks to and you can change that rhythm over time, but it’s difficult to go from one beat to a totally different bit. And we’ve been building this company now for 12 years. We’ve never once done an acquisition.
We’ve we’re an organically built company and we’ve been growing. Incredibly healthy for over a decade now. So my that’s not where my head goes. My head doesn’t go to acquisition terminate in terms of finding growth. Growth is not a problem for us. I mean, if there’s one thing we focus on and we do it’s growth and we’re, like I said, we’re early days in our journey where we’re we’re, we’re just at the starting gate.
I think that a number that excites me is I believe that there was in January of 21, there were 100 million companies on Facebook. Creating content looking to create interactions with not their shareholders, but with our stakeholders. So with their employees, with their customers, with their advertising content, with their own boarding, like everyone wants to talk to all of their stakeholders on one platform in January, there are a hundred million and I look at our user base and I, and I look at the time ahead of us.
There’s so much to be done. And I think that any founder we’ll, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll subscribe to, I think, at a distance you’re obviously super proud of what we’ve, what you’ve built and what you’ve achieved, but when you’re in it, you can only see the opportunities. What’s next, what’s around the corner. If we only do this and we only do this, and I think it’s, it’s an integral part of surviving as an entrepreneur, like having that in you, but also like focusing on the building and focusing on trying to reinvent, maybe not just your business, but also trying to reinvent yourself.
Andrew: All right, then what are you going to do personally, thinking of reinvention. And one of the things you talked to our producer about was how exhausted you are, and you must be 12 years of doing this. It’s now what? In Sweden, it’s gotta be close to seven, right? 7:00 PM. Yup. So how did, how do you, what are you gonna do now to get yourself to feel alive?
Oscar: So, um, eh, here’s what I think, I think. I think you’ve come to learn. Now. I love thinking and talking in analogies and pictures and whatnot. So I was on this epic trip a few years ago to the north of Sweden, with my family. Cause I really wanted to get them into skiing as per I love skiing and they weren’t super into skiing.
So I went all in and there was ski guides and there was fondu and there were restaurants and there was like a bowling alley here and there was lots of great skiing, but the big push on the last day was we went on a sled ride. So imagine like eight dogs on a sled. It’s gorgeous. It’s freezing in the middle of nowhere.
And it’s just an epic nature experience. And it dawned on me when, when, when I was on that. For so many years at epidemic, my role was to be the lead hound. I was at the front like tongue out, running, pulling in the snow, like six, seven other dogs next to me, there’s structure, but it’s not formal. We’re more like a pack of pack of dogs running in one direction.
And I’m a really good runner. I love that. It gives me energy. It gives me purpose direction, context, and that was my job for a long time. But then you get to a point where you start realizing that we’re not running a startup anymore. We’re running a scale-up. And I think the lack miss test is when you go to bed at night, when the last thought before you fall asleep, if your last thought is, I wonder if the idea is good enough, then you know, you’re running a startup, but when you find yourself thinking, the last thought is, I wonder if I’m going to.
Then you’re not a startup anymore. Cause you pass that point and you start thinking about the management. The team will be giving the idea, the right horsepower to get the job done. And I found myself just feeling so connected to these dogs because for so many years, my role was to be one of these dogs.
That’s how I got endorphins. That’s how I created value. But now I was standing on the sled and my, my, my job. I had my family on my slide and I was looking to the horizon. There were all these dogs pulling and my job was suddenly, do we go through the forest or do we go over the, like, the light looks a bit dark.
It might be cold if we fall down as bad, but the forest is like really cumbersome. Why do we take a break? So have we eaten food? We stopped paired. Do I have firewood? And so I came to realize that my job had transitioned from being one of the hounds, which came naturally to myself. I was much more a person who, who got to look at the horizon and that was a difficult transition.
I’m not going to lie because I think that ultimately it’s all about endorphins. And I had to retrain myself and my. I’m not a doctor, but at a, on a biological level to feel excited about not being a pulling dog anymore, but finding my new place. And that’s what I mean by reinventing. I think that you can sometimes feel tired because you’re exposed to something new, but as long as you’re reinventing your role and finding your new place and your new context, that’s one of the privileges of getting to run something that eventually becomes a unicorn and goes from a startup to scale-up is that every six months it’s a totally different company.
And if you’re fortunate, you get to be on that sled for a very long time. And at some point you’re going to be the, the dog at the front at some points, you might find yourself sitting on the sled, not adding value. That’s assigned to be a bit careful, but you might be the person standing and looking at answer funds, finding the direction.
And that transition is like very rewarding and it’s draining cause it’s difficult, but it’s, it’s, I think it’s something that a lot of entrepreneurs need to reflect and think about. And. And Yeah.
I, I was reminded by that story, reading about Jack Dorsey the other day, like he is running square and Twitter, and he now left and he doesn’t believe in founder led companies.
And it just sparked all these ideas of what does it mean being founder led. So that doesn’t means of calling all the shots, being the big ego at the board meeting. So how do you interpret that? How do you add value? What’s your role and trying to reinvent yourself? I think that’s cool.
Andrew: I did your storytelling, Oscar, I it’s such a challenge to get entrepreneurs, to feel comfortable telling the story to help, to, to just share what happened in their lives in storytelling format instead of bullet point. And by the way, and the sledding analogy is so fantastic, but I’m also thinking you were on a sled with your kids.
And then what does that mean? You slept in tents out in the snow.
Oscar: It was too frigging cold. Uh, Andrew. So we, we grabbed for three hours, you wear Arctic, uh, gloves and hats and you have goggles and whatnot. So, um, again, this is Sweden, so we only had three hours of sunlight. So the sun would come up at 10 and it would go down at one. And so it was a day trip for three hours, but Yeah.
then you go home and you go inside because we’re crazy, but we’re not that crazy.
Andrew: Wow. I might want to try that. I want to try adventures like that with my kids. That’s how I feel like I could be more engaged with them. I’m not as sit down and watch television type of
Oscar: If I can plug anything, I’d say there’s this ice hotel in Sweden, UK CRV. They build it every year because it melts every summer. It’s been around for 30 years. You sleep in an I glow, uh, as an Eagle, there’s ice art. It’s amazing. So if you want to do something with your kids or if your listeners want to have, like, that would be a crazy adventure.
I’ve been there for a weekend. It’s wow.
Andrew: What makes it amazing? I’ve seen YouTube videos of it. It does look like it really photographs well, but where’s the life like altering or the eyeopening
Oscar: It’s it’s think of your life as a spectrum, right? And typically you also late somewhere here on the spectrum, you fly to the north of Sweden, middle of nowhere, like sweets everywhere you live in an aisle in a, in an ice cabin. There are sculptures everywhere. You see the Northern lights that are arranged there.
It’s it’s so out of character it’s so out of body, it’s just.
Andrew: uh, that makes sense. I do like when the, the random, everyday things are completely different, it makes me be more aware of life. Like even just going to different country and seeing how they, you know, they don’t give you a to go cup with coffee makes you stop for a moment. All right. The website is epidemic sound.
It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to create any video or frankly, any audio products too, because they, I I’ve said before, big selection, but also just really easy to find the kind of vibe you’re looking for with them. And I want to thank two sponsors made this interview happen. The first will host your website.
Right? They’ve done it for me. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second startup 22, right. 2022 is an ex, uh, is next year with, uh, paying your people using software. That just makes sense that many of my interviewees have used it’s called Gusto. And if you go to gusto.com/mixergy, they’ll let you try three months for free and use it forever with happiness, Oscar.
Thanks so much for being here,
Oscar: you for having me. It was an absolutely.
Andrew: bye. One,