Evan Buist is lifting the BPM (beats per minute) on his global ambitions for stock music licensing platform Melodie following a $1 million raise as the Sydney-based company makes inroads into the North American broadcast space.
The scale-up, founded in 2017, aims to provide clients with high-quality stock music - a space the founder admits ‘used to have a pretty bad name’ with inferior sites cluttered with thousands of unappealing, simple tracks.
By working with predominantly Australian artists and some overseas musicians, Buist has built Melodie into a trusted platform that allows customers ranging from small independent content creators to larger broadcasters like BBC, Foxtel, MTV, Sky News and more to license tracks from a regularly updated library that currently contains more than 20,000 tracks.
“We exist to create high-quality music that’s going to serve the purpose of creating an emotional underscore that’s impactful to help tell a story,” Buist told Business News Australia.
“The most important thing is quality. When we built Melodie we knew we were only going to be as good as our worst track.
“We don't acquire music that’s not good, which is unique because most libraries have a lot of music and it’s a bit of a numbers game. But with us, when you get to the bottom of the barrel, it’s still good.”
This week the Glebe-headquartered business announced it had received $1 million in fresh funding from existing backers of the company including early Atlassian employee and Code Barrel founder Nick Menere and music festival The Drop owner Peter Strain.
According to Buist, this gives Melodie a valuation of $15 million - far more than the $4 million it was worth in 2021 after the company raised $600,000.
With these funds secured, the founder hopes to secure a stronger foothold in the US where it recently launched a sync division under the leadership of LA-based Gary Helsinger who had previously been overseeing broadcast licensing deals and artist acquisitions at Spirit Production Music, and famously signed the first publishing deal for alternative rock icons The Smashing Pumpkins.
Speaking to Business News Australia after returning from a trip to the US where he was pitching to potential customers at the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual event in Las Vegas, the founder said the US represented an ‘incredible opportunity’ for Melodie.
“The broadcast space is huge and since COVID more content is being produced than ever before,” Buist said.
“There’s so much content being produced by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, and of course all the smaller providers that are creating content for them.
“There’s a demand for all types of content like there’s never been.”
Where Melodie comes in for these content providers is by offering them a platform whereby they can subscribe for access and then search for the kind of music they’re looking for.
The search function lets these customers, whether they are individuals or businesses, filter tracks by mood, BPM, tempo, key, genre and so on.
“Those tracks all have versions or stems, so if you’re a more advanced editor you’re able to get in and manipulate the actual body of the song to create a slightly different version for your edits,” Buist said.
“It’s important to have that flexibility when you’re creating content - say you don’t want a vocal or a lead saxophone line over the track you can pull it out.”
In partnership with Singapore-based Musiio the company has also embedded AI-powered search tools, allowing users to search by pasting a YouTube link or uploading an MP3 reference file. From there, the backend will analyse the track and reference it to the library to find something similar.
Other technical advantages up Melodie’s sleeve include an API plugin, enabling users to integrate the platform directly into their own backends.
“We connect up to third party technology platforms with users making user-generated content, and those users have the ability to search and integrate music into digital content for YouTube and Facebook and whatnot,” explained Buist.
“So we work with clients that have millions of customers and they have access to our music and they’re creating digital content every day from our platform, but without actually using the platform.
“The hardest part about that business is because you’re integrating into a technology platform it’s very much like a marriage - they have to trust your technology.”
These additions are driving growth for Melodie, which claims to have grown its revenue by 250 per cent over the last 12 months.
Beyond expansion, a key focus for Buist is the promotion of Australian music, particularly music made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, as demonstrated by the company’s recent minimum investment of $25,000 into the development of Indigenous artists for sync opportunities through the platform.
“Since we started Melodie, we found that we had a problem with diversity whereby a lot of the people that write music, especially screen music, are middle-aged white men,” Buist said.
“What we often get requests for is authentic music made by First Nations artists. They don’t want to license a traditional indigenous track that’s made by someone sitting in the studio in London.
“We want more, and we need more because clients keep asking for it. That’s why we’re putting this money on the table just to encourage emerging First Nations artists to come to us and let us help them license their music to Australia and around the world.”
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