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Songtradr: the Belfast team helping lead the way in global music licensing

It’s a US-based global music rights giant, but it’s now on course to boast a team of 100 here, with more than 32 staff already, leading Songtradr’s software development in just the space of 10 months. John Mulgrew speaks to David Jamison, vice-president of software development and site lead, about a business that appears to have sprung up under the radar amid the global pandemic

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Songtradr: the Belfast team helping lead the way in global music licensing

Songtradr: the Belfast team helping lead the way in global music licensing

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Songtradr: the Belfast team helping lead the way in global music licensing

You may be surprised to know that the software arm of a growing US tech firm, which is now the largest music licensing marketplace in the world, is based in Belfast.

Songtradr has grown to a team of 32 here, with plans of tripling that to around 100 over the next three years or so, according to the man heading the company up here.

It’s been something of a sleeping success story. Introduced to these shores through economic development agency Invest NI, it’s grown into the tech end of the business in the space of just 10 months or so.

“We started the first week of February this year. I was employee number one and started our centre of excellence in Belfast,” David Jamison, site lead here in Northern Ireland, told Ulster Business.

“We have aggressively built the team out and we have hired 32 people this year, the majority in the last six months.”

Songtradr, based in Santa Monica in Los Angeles, says it is continuing to see a dramatic increase when it comes to participation from artists on its platform.

It boasts around 500,000 artists which use the platform’s services for music licensing, distribution, and rights management.

The company had been working out of the Scottish Provident Building in Belfast city centre, but has since moved to remote-working amid the ongoing pandemic.

But David says it wants to find a new permanent home in the city, and has its sights set on further expanding its team here.

The Belfast operation includes a range of roles, including engineering teams, UX (user experience), product, business intelligence and data science.

“Things took a slight turn with the global pandemic kicking in,” David says. That included a quick move to home-working.

“We will be expanding the team next year… we are on track to hit 36 (staff) this year.

“Next year we are going to double the company again in Belfast, with greater engineering bandwidth capacity and new additional teams – mobile experience and feature development team, expanding other areas such as data science along with the leadership and product management team.”

David says the headcount could grow further still to around 100 staff in the next three or four years.

“We’re the largest paid-for licence music business in world,” David adds. He says it is aiming to become the largest business-to-business license music marketplace. “(Technology) is at the heart of all this,” he said.

That growth and expansion will include improving the mobile experience, moving towards business-to-business and additional products. David says the company is revolutionising the process of how music rights are exchanged.

He says the company already boasts a very strong team and that Belfast’s position continues to grow as a software hub with a “great talent pool”, experienced engineers and two world-class universities.

“We do hope to have a permanent office in Belfast. Somewhere to call home.”

David has worked across a range of tech firms, and spent the majority of his career with burgeoning global – but Belfast-headquartered – technology giant Kainos.

He says the strength of Songtradr in attracting people to work for it is the brand. “It carries some weight,” he said. “Engineers are looking for technically challenging projects – it’s a real challenge for them.

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