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Overcoming government regulations and launching a marketplace with Epidemic Sound's Founder, Oscar Hoglund

Oscar Hoglund discusses how, through dedication to their mission, Epidemic Sound put the power back in artists' hands.

By Adam O’Donnell, Sit Down Startup podcast host

Last updated October 31, 2023

Starting your own company is one thing; the hours behind building relationships with potential customers, developing your product and your brand, as well as meeting with investors can be overwhelming. Disrupting an entire industry through legislation, however, is another thing entirely—just ask Oscar Hoglund, co-founder and CEO of Epidemic Sound.

Fourteen years ago, Hoglund and his co-founders created Epidemic Sound, a SaaS company based on revolutionizing the way music is used online—especially when associated with video content. “Adding music to content was incredibly important,” says Hoglund. “It’s the equivalent of adding flavor to food.” But at the time, doing so was close to impossible due to copyright laws. Most online users were scared to add music to their content, as a breach of copyright rules could result in them needing to remove content or being sued for using copyrighted music.

Tune in to this week’s podcast episode as Hoglund shares Epidemic Sound’s unique challenges and how the startup overcame them to become a $1.2B music tech company.

An unexpected journey

Coming from TV production, music, and storytelling backgrounds, Epidemic Sound’s co-founders predicted that video would be one of the most popular types of content on the internet, in which adding music would elevate content quality. And as it turns out, Epidemic Sound was extremely successful in its early days.

However, as the company grew, older industry players started influencing legislation laws in the U.S. and Europe, threatening Epidemic Sound’s viability. “The copyright laws weren’t fit for purpose. They didn’t match how the internet was evolving,” Hoglund recalls.

This prompted Epidemic Sound’s co-founders to enter the world of politics—which is relatively different from the startup and scaleup world—and influence legislation in order to save their company and continue to pursue their mission.

Seeing opportunities instead of problems

Hoglund strongly believes that the more problems a company encounters, the more opportunities you can find for both your customers and company.

“Building a company is constantly about solving problems,” he insists. “If you have that mindset, as soon as you hit a problem, it doesn’t really get you down. It gives you an opportunity to increase the value of your company.”

Make it, break it, or take it

Hoglund believes there are three different choices when developing a startup.

  • Make it: Startups can help make and influence legislation. Investing your time and resources to create the world that you want can help you develop your product and accomplish your mission.
  • Break it: A very popular concept amongst startups, Hoglund refers to entrepreneurs who build a company with such momentum, they automatically break traditional rules—often the ones that favor the bigger players (such as Uber versus traditional taxi services).
  • Take it: This is usually for industry giants, where rules have always been the same. In this scenario, new entrants adhere to the rules instead of making or breaking them.

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