collaboration tools

Why This Collaborative Platform for Musicians Is Drumming Up Big Bucks

Why This Collaborative Platform for Musicians Is Drumming Up Big Bucks
Image credit: photo © SPENCER HEYFRON
This story appears in the January 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Steve Martocci’s goal for Splice is nothing less than to change the course of music creation. “We think we can lead an entire new movement in music,” he says. 

Splice allows musicians to create, share and store their work digitally with unprecedented ease. The music platform is compatible with popular digital audio workstations such as Ableton, Logic Pro and FL Studio, with others in the works.

“We’re trying to allow artists to create fearlessly and never worry about backup, losing their work or missing files when they’re sending things to people,” says Martocci, a tech and startup veteran who previously co-founded the messaging platform GroupMe. “They just get to focus on making their music.” 

Add in a community angle that allows aspiring musicians to play with tunes, isolating tracks and creating remixes, and Splice has the makings of an online musical playground. 

New York-based Martocci sold GroupMe to Skype in 2011 for a figure reported between $43 million and $85 million. (He declined to comment.) He met his Splice co-founder, Santa Monica, Calif.-based software architect Matt Aimonetti, at a 2012 entrepreneurship conference. They were united in their belief that the digital creation process for music was stuck in the ’90s. 

“Matt was an audio engineer for half his life. I’m a huge music fan,” Martocci says. “If you sit at this apex of music and code, you wonder why these concepts of connected creation and easy collaboration don’t exist for music.”

“One of the first discussions we had was about seeing the DNA of music,” Aimonetti adds. “So much of it is black box. I’m obsessed with exposing the creative aspect.” 

Martocci and Aimonetti (who previously worked with LivingSocial and Sony PlayStation) launched Splice in October 2013 with $2.75 million in seed funding. The company raised an additional $4.5 million last year in Series A funding, led by Palo Alto, Calif.-based True Ventures. That round also included investments from New York-based Union Square Ventures, as well as some music-industry heavyweights, including superstar DJs Tiësto and Swedish House Mafia’s Steve Angello; Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun; and the William Morris Endeavor Entertainment talent agency.

True Ventures principal Adam D’Augelli was impressed with Splice’s founders and the platform’s easy integration for musicians. “They were highly focused and executed well—they built the first version of the product themselves while gathering market and potential customer feedback in a few weeks,” D’Augelli says. “We were excited about their tight focus on building a platform that didn’t require any changes in work flow but, rather, [supported] artists in the way they currently worked.”

The investments from the music industry are “a big piece of validation,” Martocci adds. “When you show [Splice] to an artist, their eyes light up. It’s going to make my life easier to get this in front of the forward-thinkers in music.”

The capital will go toward further developing and fine-tuning the product. “We’re making sure we’re solid on the platform and adding things as we go,” Martocci says. “We just need to make [Splice] so good and strong that musicians share it and we create value for them.”

Splice was in private beta for 10 months before switching to a free public beta in mid-September. The site will maintain a free tier, but Martocci says it will migrate slowly toward charging for additional features. “We’re constantly building a backlog of the amazing things we think we can offer for premium services from the education side, the professional producers’ side,” he says. “It’s endless.” 

Edition: November 2016

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