Tech has a bad reputation for pulling money out of musicians’ pockets, but Splice is changing that. The audio sample marketplace and music production collaboration tool has now paid out $15 million to artists since 2013, doubling from a year ago. Splice lets musicians sell their sounds for royalty-free use, and songs by Eminem, Ariana Grande, and Marshmello that were powered by those samples have topped the charts. Splice charges $7.99 per month for unlimited access to its array of 3 million synthesizers, drum hits, vocal flares, and other sounds. Despite being designed for serious musicians, Splice’s suite of tools now has 2.5 million monthly users.
“Music is going through a beautiful moment” says Steve Martocci, Splice’s co-founder and CEO who former built and sold GroupMe. “The tailwinds from the success of streaming are great. As more people realize how big the market it, how much people want to create music, there’s a huge opportunity here.”
Now Union Square Ventures and True Ventures are seizing on that opportunity, co-leading a $57.5 million Series C for Splice. “It’s all about scale” Martocci tells me. “We’re investing in ourselves. Continuing to build new products. Continuing to work with bigger artists. We think there’s so much about the creative process and ecosystem of musicians that needs to be fixed. We want to diviserify the content available so all artists in all genres feel like we have what they need.“
The round which includes DFJ Growth, Flybridge, Lerer Hippeau, Liontree, Founders Circle Capital, and Matt Pincus brings Splice to $104.5 million in total funding. Splice wouldn’t disclose the valuation, but using the industry standard of selling 20 percent equity for a Series C, Splice could be valued in the ballpark of $285 million. That would make it one of the top music startups that isn’t selling streaming, tickets, or hardware.
Splice’s subscription revenue is pooled and then doled out to artists based on who’s samples got the most downloads. Creators range from bedroom tinkerers to Drake’s Grammy-winning producer boi-1da. Martocci confirms that artists receive the majority of Splice’s sample marketplace revenue, saying “they’re very favorable deals”. That’s especially great for the music production industry because a lot of Splice’s sample creators aren’t celebrity DJs, Martocci says the’rre audio engineers and other “people behind the scenes getting an oppportunity to step into the light with an amazing revenue opportunity, but also an oppportunity to be seen for their creative contributions.”
Prioritization across Splice’s different product lines will be one of its big challenges, Martocci tells me.