Lincoln Park-native Eric Sheinkop knows his stuff when it comes to music licensing - he started a production company when he was 16 and last year even wrote a book titled “Hit Brands: How Music Builds Value for the World’s Smartest Brands." His expertise in the industry also led him to found music licensing platform Music Dealers in 2008.
Through the platform’s advanced technology, his company has been able to scale globally despite the fact that the music licensing industry relies heavily on personal relationships.
Today, Music Dealers is the one-stop shop for pre-cleared music and creative sounds while providing a middle ground for independent artists and brands. Music Dealers has expanded immensely since its inception just six years ago, however, Sheinkop said the business has recently taken on a new life. There are now seven Music Dealers offices with about 40 employees, almost all of whom work in its Chicago headquarters.
The idea for Music Dealers came about 10 years ago when Sheinkop noticed disorganization within the music licensing industry while attempting to locate relevant music for ad campaigns at a major Chicago ad firm. To stay organized, Sheinkop created a personal spreadsheet to keep track of various artists the agency had rights to use.
‘’There was no real efficient system at the time for brands to obtain rights for specific content that could be licensed in TV commercials, also, there was a lack of database of existing available artists,’’ Sheinkop said.
Sheinkop said the light bulb went off after someone at the firm asked for access to his handpicked music spreadsheet. That spreadsheet wound up laying the groundwork for what is now considered a game-changing global technology platform to source music.
The CEO said music licensing is a high-growth area in the music industry at the moment.
‘’It’s something that artists want more and more and need access to, and something that brand's, like television networks want,’’ Sheinkop said. ‘’We've been able to take a different approach to find the 'right' music for each client that really speaks to a brand's communication strategy.''
Over the past year, the company has expanded to Mexico, Brazil and parts of Asia. To keep up with technological growth and expansion overseas, four senior-level appointments were announced this week: Howard Tullman of 1871, Kayne Grau of Apartments.com, Clay Johnson of Cars.com and digital marketer David Szostak.
As Sheinkop looks forward to new opportunities overseas, he remains fascinated by Chicago’s entrepreneurial style and budding startup scene. Although Sheinkop spent months traveling coast-to-coast in search of those senior-level staff members, he said the best-qualified people for the jobs were based right here, in Chicago.