In the world of filmmaking, finding the perfect music to complement visual storytelling can be a challenging task.
Filmstro, a leading music library, has revolutionized the industry by offering a unique solution that empowers filmmakers to customize and adapt royalty-free music to their projects.
In this exclusive interview, we speak with Seb Jaeger, CEO of Filmstro, who sheds light on the inspiration behind the company, its evolution, and how it has differentiated itself from other music libraries, an highly competitive niche.
Before we dive into the interview, let’s take a moment to learn more about Seb Jaeger, the remarkable individual behind Filmstro. Jaeger embarked on his career as a Recording Artist at Rainbow Quartz in New York.
After honing his skills and gaining valuable experience for a year, he transitioned into the role of Composer and Music Producer for Score Audio, where he dedicated nearly six years of his creative journey.
In 2014, fueled by his passion for music and technology, Jaeger ventured into the entrepreneurial realm and founded Filmstro. Since then, he has etched his name in the annals of history with his groundbreaking contributions.
Now, let’s delve into the intriguing story of Seb Jaeger and explore the remarkable success story of Filmstro.
As we like to do, we will look both at the entrepreneurial aspect of his journey, to inspire other digital marketers, to then dive deeper into techincal aspects and the secrets of Filmstro.
Q - What inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start your own business?
Feedback and encouragement from other people. I hadn’t planned on setting up Filmstro and was experimenting with the core concept as part of my previous career as a music composer, but at the time I knew a lot of film directors and producers and they said that what I was working on could easily become a product so I decided to try and commercialise my idea.
Q - Can you share some of the key challenges you faced when starting your business and how you overcame them?
Our earliest challenge was around ingesting content quickly enough. To solve this we built some software for internal use that our composers use to speed up their workflow in creating adaptive audio in our proprietary format.
Q - What do you think are the most important factors in driving the success of a business?
I think there are probably too many to mention, but ultimately it comes down to visibility. Even if you have the best product in the world, if nobody comes to your shop then you can’t sell it. So I would say that a good marketing strategy is key. Of course the product itself needs to be robust as well. And lastly, you need a team that can iterate rapidly on the product in order to ensure customer retention.
Q - Can you discuss the role of risk-taking in entrepreneurship and how you manage and mitigate risks in your business ventures?
Risk-taking is inherent in entrepreneurship; particularly if the venture requires significant funds to build a unique tech stack. Seeking the right funding routes for the business at the right time is crucial, and to mitigate risks it’s important not to give away too much control to outside stakeholders in the early stages.
Q - How do you approach building a strong and effective team for your company?
By using trusted advisors to help at the recruitment stage; particularly for roles in which the founders don’t have any innate experience themselves!
Q - Can you share with us some of the challenges you've faced in growing Filmstro and how you overcame them?
Managing teams is never easy and diversifying the product offering too soon is definitely a drain on resource.
Pivoting to the cloud and focusing on a single product has been the necessary step in overcoming some of these challenges.
Q - What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey?
Do not, under any circumstances, try and please all of the people all of the time. The best piece of product design advice is actually to say ‘no’ a thousand times to feature requests. Just focus on the core offering until it’s super robust.
Q - Can you share any lessons you've learned from failure or setbacks in your entrepreneurial career?
Raising money before you have a clear marketing strategy is a mistake. You want to avoid spending money on campaigns that don’t add value.
Q - How do you stay motivated and overcome challenges during the ups and downs of running a business?
If it’s your company then I think it’s easy to stay motivated; particularly if customer feedback is consistently positive. The product is what keeps me interested and there are always new items on the roadmap to tackle which is energising and rewarding.
Q - How do you balance work and personal life as an entrepreneur, and what strategies do you use to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
I switch my phone off at 6pm every day and don’t switch it back on until 7am the next day. I never look at sales reports in the evenings or over the weekend and try to avoid work emails after 6pm and at weekends as well.
Q - What are some of the most effective marketing and branding strategies you've used to promote your business and attract customers?
The most effective marketing campaigns are genuine collaborations with other creative industry players – for example running a short film competition with a successful filmmaking YouTuber or an official film organisation.
Q - Can you discuss the importance of having a strong community and how you foster that community?
User feedback is incredibly important to us so we can shape the tools around what our community want. Providing tutorials and running competitions is something that works well.
Q - What strategies do you use to stay ahead of the competition in your industry?
We don’t actively try and stay ahead of the competition. Our USP is inherently unique anyway and there’s nobody else doing what we do. We were the first company to offer SaaS in our space and most other companies have now copied us.
I guess what I’m saying is that we’d prefer to simply focus on doing what we’re doing. If you worry about what the competition are doing then that’s time you could have improved your product. At the end of the day the world is big enough for many companies in the same space.
Q - any future plans or goals for your business and how you envision its growth and success?
I think it’s inevitable that Filmstro will finally do a proper fundraise at some point and scale. Specifically we have plans for several other products in tangental and emerging markets, but we would need a much larger team to service those products effectively. The areas we are looking to move into are gaming, streaming and music AI.
Q - Can you share a Lesson you've learned as the CEO of Filmstro that you think would be valuable for other entrepreneurs?
“Remember that the main thing is that the main thing is the main thing!“
Q - Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting Filmstro and how it evolved over the years?
The inspiration came from the inherent difficulty that creatives faced when briefing composers for bespoke projects due to the difference in terminology, leading to wasted time on both sides.
We experimented with a new way to describe musical changes, using just a few words that were from a visual arts background rather than a musical background. This lead to early collaborators encouraging us to reduce this number of variables down to only three and allow users to make changes using these variables.
That’s how Filmstro was born.
Q - How does Filmstro differentiate itself from other royalty-free music libraries in the market?
We’re the only music library that allows users to make musical changes to all of the music in our catalogue using our unique online music app.
Q - Can you walk us through the process of curating and adding new music to the Filmstro library?
Our roster of composers send us new music – in response to a brief from our music supervisors or custom requests from our community of users – and we then convert their submission into our proprietary adaptive format before adding it to our online library and app.
Q - How do you ensure the quality and diversity of the music on Filmstro?
We ensure quality by curating our content and using only exclusive music that is not available from any other libraries.
We try to ensure diversity, but also recognise that we’re a boutique library specialising in Cinematic music for narrative content.
However, if users can’t find a certain style they need, they are able to request music to be created for them at no extra cost (if they have a PRO or PRO PLUS license).
Q - Can you share with us any particularly memorable or successful projects that have used Filmstro music?
As we are one of only five official music suppliers to the BBC, there are literally too many to mention and we don’t have sight of all of the use cases, but our music is regularly used for TV productions in the UK and worldwide.
Q - How does Filmstro approach licensing and royalty payments for its artists?
We pay our composers every month based solely on the number of tracks they have placed with our library.
This differs significantly from other providers who index payments to the individual tracks’ performance, thereby meaning that some artists get paid a lot and other not at all.
At Filmstro, everyone gets paid, all of the time.
Q - Can you tell us about any new or upcoming features for Filmstro that you're particularly excited about?
We’re about to release V3 (Summer 2023) which will see the re-introduction of some of the most powerful features from our legacy desktop App, such as:
- Automatic music length (based on uploaded video)
- Musical ‘Keyframing’ using nodes in the timeline
Q - Can you discuss the role of technology in Filmstro and how it's used to enhance the user experience?
Yes. For example,there is no need to cut their video to the music and with Filmstro users can work in the way that the highest echelons of the Film industry work with music; ie the music is changed to fit a locked edit – not the other way around.
Q - Can you talk about any partnerships or collaborations Filmstro has had and how they've impacted the company?
We worked with Adobe when they first released their third party ‘panel’ architecture and we released the first ever music product that worked directly inside an NLE which helped boost visibility for our brand at the time.
Q - How does Filmstro stay up to date with industry trends and the evolving needs of filmmakers and video producers?
Often we’ve lead the way and caused the trend; such as when we introduced a SaaS model for stock audio in 2015 before any other library had. We’re now integrating AI into future feature sets to remain cutting edge in our music search and discoverability and other ‘smart’ features.
Q - Can you talk about any future plans or goals for Filmstro and how you plan to achieve them?
We plan to acquire additional music publishers over time to massively grow our catalogue, along with re-releasing desktop products and NLE-plugins for all major NLEs.
Q - How Does Filmstro balance creative freedom with practicality for its users?
Filmstro at its core is all about empowering creative freedom. That’s literally why we set up the company.
Using Filmstro gives filmmakers unprecedented control to shape music how they want and fit their projects!
If you’re a filmmaker or video producer looking to take your projects to the next level with customized music, Filmstro is the answer.
Their innovative approach to adaptive music empowers creatives with unparalleled control and creative freedom.
With a vast library of exclusive, high-quality music and a user-friendly app, Filmstro stands out as a leading royalty-free music library. We highly recommend to take a glance at our Filmstro review or visit directly the Filmstro Website.
As Filmstro looks to the future, their plans include expanding their catalogue through partnerships and acquisitions, as well as re-introducing powerful features from their legacy desktop app. These endeavors will further enhance the user experience and solidify Filmstro’s position in the music industry.
If you’re inspired by Filmstro’s journey and looking to gain more information about this industry, you must definitely check our other reviews too. There, you can read reviews of top-notch and trending tools.
We extend our gratitude to the CEO of Filmstro for sharing their insights and expertise. As we conclude this informative interview, we invite you to stay safe, keep hustling, and look forward to our next knowledge-driven conversation!