07 Jul 2015 AudioMicro Review

AudioMicro is, as you may guess from the name, the microstock business model applied to audio files instead of images.  They license Royalty Free music and sound effects.  They’re the most prominent, if not also among the most successful, in the microstock audio space.

The Founder and CEO is Ryan Born, an enthusiastic entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, USA, who bootstrapped the company from 2007 to late 2008 when he found his first investor, then further money came in from Fotolia in 2011.  The business has expanded both vertically and horizontally into related markets, and is quite the entertaining story of entrepreneurialism, as well as a great place to license your stock audio.

The Business of Stock Sound

Initially launching with crowdsourced content exclusively, Born quickly set about manually signing up bigger content generators and purchasing existing collection.  One such partnership was The Hollywood Edge Sound Library which made their content available on AudioMicro in 2009.

A la carte prices range from $49.95 to $299.95 for music and $3.95 and $4.95 for sound effects.  Subscriptions bring the per-track price down as low as $10.

Non-exclusive content receives a 35% royalty, rising to 50% for exclusive content.

Growing in Complexity

Born has said AudioMicro was initially criticised heavily within the music industry, but now, 8 years on, it’s all calmed down.  He believes it was the threat of price pressure in the “old school” part of the industry, but known bands and labels were never AudioMicro’s target market.

Being the first mover in audio provided an edge, boosting growth and helping secure an early $500k angel investment.  The company experienced solid growth through to 2011, when a $750k investment from previous investor DFJ Frontier and Fotolia funded several strategic new product releases.  Oleg Tscheltzoff, Fotolia Co-founder and CEO, also took a seat on the board.

One such strategic product was AdRev, a service for music labels, music publisher and production music libraries to recover revenue from unauthorised uses on YouTube and other platforms. It also operates a YouTube multi-channel network (MCN) with over 2,500 channels.

Another was ImageCollect, a celebrity photo library that other agencies such as Crestock used to source celebrity imagery, used by many big buyers including People, ELLE and US magazine.  This was the only success of four simultaneously launched websites.

Also remarkable for 2011 was the purchase and re-launch of Audioo.com, a sharing platform that was ultimately shuttered in late 2011.

From all this momentum the company was ranked 2nd fastest growing media company at Inc 500 in 2013 and 2014 consecutively, and was on the chart for other 5 listings of fast growing businesses.

In mid December 2014,  Zealot Networks bought a majority stake of AudioMicro Inc for around $20M.  Zealot Networks is founded and lead by Danny Zappin – founder of Maker Studios.

That same month, AudioMicro Inc sealed its last acquisition: DashGo, a huge digital music distribution platform, worldwide distributor for industry giants like iTunes, Spotify, YouTube Music Key, Beats. It has an equally huge client base, with names like DH1 Media, Coconut Records, Rock Mafia. The intention is to link DashGo with AdRev: expanding AdRev services to DashGo the client base, and using this new platform for visibility and marketing strategies for their contributors.

Who’s Behind It?

Ryan Born is a Nashville native, with a strong background in accounting and finances.  His stock experience came via WireImage, later purchased by Getty Images, in NYC where he was VP of Finance.  This was Ryan’s first exposure to the microstock business model that would spark the ideas for how the model could be applied to sound.  From there he moved to LA to found AudioMicro.

Prior to this Born was an angel investor with three successful investments:  WireImage, Internet Marketing Inc, and NewCondosOnline.com.

Signs of Success

Since its origins as a start-up project, AudioMicro Inc. has grown to manage AdRev, DashGo and ImageCollect

CrunchBase currently estimates the AudioMicro group of companies at a $30M value.

If you’re into producing stock audio, you’re undoubtedly already contributing to AudioMicro.  Let us know in the comments how they sell for you.

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