Production music firm Epidemic Sound gets quite a few people’s backs up in the music industry, it’s fair to say. In recent years the criticism has tended to focus on the way the company pays the musicians it works with.
Industry bodies see its ‘buyout’ deals as unfair to songwriters and producers, while Epidemic Sound argues that the musicians understand these deals when they sign them, and also that they’re doing well out of it. This argument flares up semi-regularly.
Whichever side of that particular row you sit on (or if you’re on the fence but are interested in Epidemic Sound’s business) its latest annual recap is worth a read. It certainly shows the scale at which the company’s music is being used on streaming video and social platforms.
“In 2022 alone, Epidemic Sound’s music was used in more than 14 million videos and heard 1.5 billion times per day on YouTube,” claimed the company, adding that its 100 most popular tracks were used in more than 2.5m videos that were collectively watched more than 20bn times.
A pertinent question: is that music use growing? Seemingly not. In May 2020, Epidemic Sound’s CEO told news site Tubefilter that videos containing its tracks were viewed… 1.5bn times per day on YouTube. So that particular metric, while high, is staying flat rather than growing.
Swedish artist Ooyy (“electronic house bangers” it says here) was top of the company’s internal chart, with tracks used in more than 485k YouTube videos in 2022. “It doesn’t end on YouTube – in 2022, Epidemic Sound tracks were heard 11.5 billion times per month on TikTok,” added the company’s post. So growth is coming off-YouTube for the company.
There’s also a big section on classical music, with Epidemic Sound suggesting that “the use of classical music on YouTube has risen by over 90% worldwide in the past year, making it the fastest-growing genre used by content creators in 2022”. The company’s own classical repertoire has generated more than 200m streams on music streaming services.
What the recap doesn’t mention are any stats for use of Epidemic Sound’s music on other prominent social-media platforms, like Instagram or Facebook. The obvious reason for that: Epidemic Sound sued Meta in a $142m lawsuit earlier this year alleging unlicensed use of its catalogue across those two services.
Epidemic Sound’s fiercer critics may want to put a boot through their screen reading this. But beyond the arguments about how it operates, these figures are useful to understand the scale of its business, and some of the trends around how production music is being used by influencers.