Splice, the popular platform for rights-cleared sounds and beats, has paid out more than $25 million to musicians in its artist-to-artist marketplace, the company has revealed. The milestone marks a significant acceleration since announcing a year ago that it had reached $15 million in payouts.
That’s in large part because Splice is seen as “a different form of collaboration,” says CEO Steve Martocci, who founded the company in 2013 with CTO Matt Aimonetti. Indeed, while most would imagine a hit song coming together in a studio setting with various creators working together, in essence, the collaboration starts much earlier. “It’s about opening up the ecosystem,” Martocci elaborates, pointing to his roots in programming and open source software. “And what’s cool about Splice Sounds is every time you’re using it, you’re putting money into the pockets of the musicians who made those sounds. And to get compensated like this actually can transform peoples’ lives.”
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The dance artist Karra is perhaps Splice’s greatest success story. A Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and producer, she has worked with the likes of Armin Van Buuren and Steve Aoki, but it’s her Splice sample packs, one of which contains sounds that were downloaded more than 1 million times, that has made her career as an artist possible at all.
“It’s provided financial stability in my life,” Karra tells Variety. “Being that I write songs every day, I never know where my next check is coming from. But with Splice it’s so nice to have a quarterly payout. That’s a really significant amount of money — life-changing money, in my instance.”
Karra can hear her sounds being used in media “all the time,” she says. “I’ll be watching TV and hear samples in a commercial. Or I’ll be listening to something on Spotify and hear my vocals. Or even just the reverse reverb which is just an effect that I made, I can tell by the tone of it that it’s from my pack, which is crazy. I’ve heard them live on EDC, and they were on a Grammy nominated album [Bring Me the Horizon’s]. I hear them everywhere.”
Promoting the underrepresented is another of Splice’s initiatives, and an admirable one in the wake of the most recent USC Annenberg study on inclusion in the music business. As Martocci explains: “We spent a lot of time rounding out the catalog. We have a big push around female producers. Last year, we had WondaGurl who was our first female producer to break a million sample downloads. With Karra, we saw the way YouTube comments felt very discriminatory against women producers, we want to keep trying to inspire women to create. For us, we think more about about solving the problem at its core — at the very beginning. And as we’ve grown, we also doubled the amount of women from a percentage basis who are new users on our platform. So, you know, I think you’ll start to see these effects compound over time. We’re really focusing on inspiring them and make sure they don’t get scared off from the very beginning of the process.”
Karra’s own experience as a Splice star, as it were, brought out the worst in gender discrimination. “There was a lot of backlash on the music and videos that I did with Splice,” she recounts. “A lot of men thought I was an actor hired and just to be in the video. Because of that backlash, Splice put in initiatives to involve more female producers and singers. We’re definitely making waves to diversify the space of sound design, which is awesome.”
Also working in Splice’s favor: the growth of platforms like TikTok which are reliant on music. “The market’s getting bigger as kids become content creators,” says Martocci. “They’re using the same sounds as the pros. There’s nothing holding them back. … It’s a new way to be a part of an artist’s career,” adds Martocci. “Being able to have them hear themselves on a Grammy-nominated track — that’s something you can build a career around. And you’re getting paid and having credibility.”
Adds Karra, who signed to Ultra Music Publishing a year ago: “The sample pack business wasn’t something that artists and vocalists saw as an opportunity and I just want to make it known that this is a new path that has brought me up to the next level and has connected me with artists, people and companies that I wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. Splice has really created a new cutting-edge way for artists to get their start in the industry, which is amazing.”