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Epidemic Sound: On a growth journey to soundtrack the world, powered by Google Cloud

About Epidemic Sound

Swedish royalty-free music provider Epidemic Sound was established in 2009 with the mission to soundtrack the world. Since then, the company has enabled access to music for millions of storytellers with its innovative digital rights model. This helps content creators take their videos to the next level, while supporting musicians both financially and creatively.

Industries: Technology
Location: Sweden

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Music provider Epidemic Sound builds an integrated Google Cloud Platform and Google Marketing Platform infrastructure during its hyper growth to serve musicians and content creators worldwide.

Google Cloud results

  • Informs smarter marketing decisions by turning big data into valuable business insights with built-in machine learning capabilities.
  • Democratizes access to information across the company with user-friendly data dashboards powered by Looker.
  • Powers an ROI-efficient approach to marketing with accurate predictive customer lifetime value calculations.

Instant scalability supports 400% growth in two years

For music creators, every song is an opportunity to make a living through royalties. But although global music industry revenues should surpass $65 billion in 2023, many musicians still struggle to survive. This is why royalty-free soundtrack provider Epidemic Sound is on a mission to make music flow more easily and fairly around the world.

"We have non-binding, non-exclusive agreements with music creators, including some of the world’s biggest brands and content makers," explains Linn Westerberg, Director DSPP & Music Recruitment at Epidemic Sound. "Their tracks are found by our subscribers and used to soundtrack their content, which is consumed by millions of people online. We take care of licensing for both parties."

With 35,000 tracks and 90,000 sound effects, millions of users use Epidemic Sound to soundtrack their work. To keep up with its global demand, in 2019, Epidemic Sound decided to move its infrastructure to a new cloud provider. "We outgrew our host and weren’t able to scale fast enough," explains Greg Elkehag Funk, Chief Product Officer at Epidemic Sound.

"We needed a powerful solution for gathering increasingly more data in a centralized place to support our growth. We chose Google Cloud Platform because it could scale to meet our demands especially for our data warehouse, and for its superior containerization capabilities."

In 2020, Epidemic Sound established BigQuery as its data warehouse and Google Kubernetes Engine to automatically deploy, scale, and manage multi-zonal and regional clusters. This freed up Epidemic Sound to develop new features for its creators.

"As more platforms and users come online, we need a powerful solution for gathering increasingly more data in a centralized place to support the business during hyper-growth. Two core requirements led us to Google Cloud: superior capabilities around containerization, and the ability to scale fantastically in the long run."

Greg Elkehag Funk, Chief Product Officer, Epidemic Sound

Innovating the ways people search for sound

Key to Epidemic Sound leveraging this new technology to make audio flow more freely is making it easier to search for. "It’s easier to name and search for something you want to see, rather than something you want to listen to," says Elkehag Funk. "Integrating our Google Cloud environment with multiple data sources, such as YouTube video data, helped us to better categorize our audio library." Harnessing metadata, Epidemic Sound enables users to search for a genre, tempo, and song duration, or use keywords such as ‘Christmas.’

Personalized recommendations further speed the search process, with results matched with a user’s taste profile based on tracks they’ve downloaded on the platform, or used on YouTube.

These features are powered by compute-intensive machine learning workloads running on Compute Engine to pre-generate the recommendations. Meanwhile, BigQuery and Cloud Storage gather data about user actions.

To determine which predetermined metrics are most relevant for different users, Looker is used to analyze user behavior. "This helps us understand how users embrace new launches, so we know whether we’re helping them find what they want," Elkehag Funk explains.

Understanding what the internet sounds like through data

With 500+ employees worldwide, Epidemic Sound values the ability to share data and insights internally, so it was a natural step to shift onto Looker in February 2021 to further democratize access to information company-wide.

"Looker dashboards are easy to use, even for non-technical users," says Westerberg. "We can share relevant insights with music creators so they understand what’s in demand and what might make their music more popular. Everybody wins."

Epidemic Sound also uses its data insights to help content creators give their followers what they want. “Our research helps storytellers sort through soundtrack options with tools such as YouTube recommendations, showing what resonates well with different segments. We’re not just a stock library. We use machine learning to narrow searches from thousands to a dozen songs to lift content to the next level, so it’s more likely to resonate with followers,” explains David Baekholm, Chief Marketing Officer at Epidemic Sound. With over 1.5 billion YouTube video views daily, the company obviously knows what the internet sounds like.

"Looker dashboards are intuitive and easy to use, making information easily accessible for non-technical users, such as the music team. This means we can share more relevant insights with music creators so they understand what’s in high demand and what might help make their music more popular within specific sectors. Everybody wins."

Linn Westerberg, Director, DSPP & Music Recruitment, Epidemic Sound

Smarter marketing for a growing community of content creators

Epidemic Sound also encourages its teams to use its new infrastructure to empower smarter decisions. And its marketing team was quick to leverage this. Previously, it had to extract, transform or load data from multiple sources. Now, with Salesforce data and internal systems connected with Google Marketing Platform, everything is centralized. “Automated audience lists halves the time to feed customer learnings straight to us. We can see who we’re targeting with our campaigns and Google Ads and can quickly leverage those insights,” Baekholm says.

Plus, instead of relying on user surveys, Epidemic Sound now captures user behavior signals to help understand user experiences in real-time and optimize decisions. “Our new marketing holy grail is predictive analysis,” says Baekholm. “Our marketing is now driven by our customers. As we connect more of our data with Google Analytics, we can make better predictive calculations and this allows us to tailor every ad to each individual user’s soundtrack requirements, really helping our creators thrive."

"In two years, our music went from being heard on average 250 million hours per month on YouTube to more than 1 billion hours per month, because our Google Cloud machinery is working in the background ensuring that more of our creators’ music reaches more listeners, taking us closer to achieving our mission of soundtracking the world."

"2020 was the most transformative year in Epidemic Sound’s history," concludes Oscar Hōglund, co-founder and CEO at Epidemic Sound. "We created a fully digital business model and added thousands of amazing tracks to our world-class catalog. The demand for restriction-free music keeps on growing. I could not be more optimistic about the future."

"In two years, our music went from being heard on average 250 million hours per month on YouTube to more than 1 billion hours per month. This means we’ve seen a 400% growth from 2019 to 2021, and that is because our Google Cloud machinery is working well in the background to support our vision."

David Baekholm, Chief Marketing Officer, Epidemic Sound

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Epidemic Sound

Swedish royalty-free music provider Epidemic Sound was established in 2009 with the mission to soundtrack the world. Since then, the company has enabled access to music for millions of storytellers with its innovative digital rights model. This helps content creators take their videos to the next level, while supporting musicians both financially and creatively.

Industries: Technology
Location: Sweden