U.K.-based music platform Uppbeat has been developing a service that makes it easier for content creators to find quality free music to use in their videos published to platforms like YouTube, Twitch, TikTok and others. Now with more than 500,000 users on board, the startup is announcing the close of its £4.6 million GBP ($6.15 million USD) Series A funding round to help further grow its business.
Uppbeat was developed by Lewis Foster and Matt Russell, the U.K.-based co-founders of another music-licensing company, Music Vine. The founders realized there was an opportunity to put their expertise to work to address the growing need to offer a free music resource for the creator space. Today, over 100 million people share content across social platforms, but there weren’t that many great options for free, but high-quality, music the founders believed.
First launched in January 2021, Uppbeat helps to eliminate the headaches that come with copyright claims on music used within creator content. It does so by offering an alternative to expensive music licensing platforms as well as free music options like YouTube’s Audio Library or Creative Commons‘ music.
Leveraging a freemium model, Uppbeat allows creators to sign up for an account that provides access to around 50% of the site’s catalog and provides 10 downloads per month. The Premium subscription ($6.99/mo) provides full access and unlimited downloads (a three-year and lifetime subscription is also available).
In addition to music, Uppbeat now offers a sound effects and clips library that works well for “meme-style” content, via an expansion to the site in September 2021.
Because music tracks have to be fingerprinted to fight off unlicensed usage, a copyright claim will still occur when using Uppbeat music, but the system will look for the necessary credit then clear the claim automatically, in about five minutes. Free users simply add a credit to their YouTube video description to clear the copyright claims, while Premium users on YouTube can whitelist their channel to automatically protect against copyright claims.
The system isn’t limited to YouTube — the music and effects can work on nearly any platform used by streamers, podcasters, bloggers and other social media creators.
Uppbeat artists, meanwhile, keep total ownership of their music and are paid on a rev share basis.
The company says it’s now taking on more than 75,000 new users per month and traffic to its site is topping 1 million sessions per month. Retention is high and bounce rates are low, at less than 10%, the startup told TechCrunch. Average session times are over five minutes.
Uppbeat’s catalog has grown from a curated collection of 1,000 tracks at the time of its launch to over 3,000 tracks, and has since added 2,500 sound effects and clips. Meanwhile, the company reports its annual revenue run rate is $718,000, while Music Vine as a whole is at approximately $2.4 million.
The company said they were not able to name their Series A investor, a strategic backer and leader in the space who didn’t want to be disclosed.
With the additional investment, Uppbeat says it will work to better establish its brand presence on YouTube by releasing its music there and will engage in more direct partnerships with online communities. It will also use the cash to overhaul its backend and build a smarter user interface with personalization features.
It’s also planning to roll out new features for creators, including one that allows them to curate and share their own playlists — something that can give Uppbeat artists more exposure, as well, and could help creators earn money. The company has already worked with YouTubers to release hand-picked “Partner Playlists” to showcase the kind of music they typically use on their own channels.
The nine-person Uppbeat team will also expand and will relocate to new office space.
“Since Uppbeat went live, the response from the creator community has been truly incredible. Their positivity and feedback have pushed the platform to where it is today and it’s thanks to them that we’ve been able to secure this incredible investment as we enter an exciting new chapter for Uppbeat,” said co-founder and CEO Lewis Foster. “We believe this investment is not only a gamechanger that will help fund Uppbeat’s ambitious growth strategy, but also an exciting moment for the creator community and a huge milestone on our path to giving everyone the freedom to create,” he said.