Chantal Epp is the founder of ClicknClear, a music rights tech and licensing company servicing untapped markets that’s initially working in the Performance Sports and Fitness space. Having recently contributed to our Invest in Creative Investor toolkit, we decided to sit down with Chantal to find out more about ClicknClear and discuss the challenges that exist for founders in the creative spaces when it comes to securing investment.
As a World Champion cheerleader with a background in music licensing, Chantal found herself in a unique position to be able to find a solution to overcome the challenges facing the Performance Sports and Fitness space. Looking outside of cheerleading, Chantal discovered that there were a number of sports that didn’t have a way to license music, which was resulting in them being on the receiving end of lawsuits and cease-and-desist letters. Explaining ClicknClear’s solution, Chantal shares:
“We work directly with record labels and publishers pre-clearing a specialist set of rights for this market and we make their music available on our licensing platform. We then work with sporting federations and organisations to become their approved music licensing provider and provide them with a unique suite of technologies to help enforce licensing at all of their competitions whilst enabling them to live stream or make available video content, on demand, around the world.”
Once Chantal had formulated the idea of ClicknClear, she needed to secure investment to help make her business a reality. After exploring the investment opportunities for her business, Chantal met angel investor David Walsh and realised that angel investment was a viable way for her to realise her ambitions.
“Finding investment is always really challenging. I went down the route of looking for investment and took the opportunities that came my way. I met my main angel investor David Walsh through a music networking event where I met his partner. She heard about the company, loved the idea, and mentioned that she knew someone who might be interested so I explored that route,” Chantal explains. “I did explore other routes as well but some weren’t so successful. Others I chose to turn down.”
David has been working full-time with Chantal, completing a couple of rounds of investment and helping to bring other angels on board. As Chantal and David began working together, it became clear that having an angel investor on board was going to bring more than just money.
“He’s really brought a lot of business understanding and strategy, and a lot of advice. It’s like having a mentor as well as the financial support, which is really important to the business. When you’re in those early stages, you need a bit of guidance on what you should do and how to structure things to ensure long term growth.”
While Chantal has been able to secure investment for her business, she’s well aware of the challenges that face the creative industries. Securing investment for products or services that aren’t physical can lead some investors to believe that they’re not tangible, which makes monetisation difficult.
“That’s the challenge for music licensing. The creative industries as a whole is quite fragmented in the sense that you’ve got lots of individual creators looking for funding, but there are also now an increasing number of tech companies being formed around the creative industries, and I think it’s those companies that are really going to change the game and help better monetise the industry as a whole.”
“There’s a huge opportunity for growth in and around the creative industries, and specifically in music.”
There’s a lack of education and understanding when it comes to investing in the creative industries but there are plenty of opportunities for investors if they’re willing to explore the space. Highlighting what she believes to be the biggest opportunities, Chantal enthuses:
“There’s a huge opportunity for growth in and around the creative industries, and specifically in music. It’s a heavily under-monetised industry that’s only now really starting to properly adopt technology in new ways. Many rightsholders are still using spreadsheets to manage their data and if we have bad data in, we get bad data out leading to less opportunities to monetise that content through licensing. Now is the time to revolutionise the industry and get it performing as well as the other entertainment sectors such as videogames and film.”
In terms of growth, there’s roughly a $100 billion monetisation gap between global recorded music industry revenues and film, and a $140 billion monetisation gap between music and videogaming. Both of those industries are using music and Chantal firmly believes that changes in the music industry through technology can help grow the revenue.
“The music industry hasn’t yet grasped monetisation to its fullest potential when it comes to licensing as the focus has typically been low volume, high value deals but this has left many markets underserved which in turn limits revenue for the industry. Additionally, due to data often being stored in spreadsheets, ownership information is missing meaning writers and artists don’t necessarily get paid by collecting societies around the world for performance income. We need to find ways to automate the manual processes that are taking up everyones time and reducing their ability to actually generate income in new and exciting areas.”
Chantal’s success with ClicknClear hasn’t gone unnoticed. She was recognised in the AccelerateHer Inspiring 50 list and the FT as one of the 50 most inspiring women in tech in the UK. How does that recognition feel and what opportunities does it create?
“It was quite a shock to have made that list and this time with my face in the FT and not just my name! It’s definitely been a boost of confidence and reassured me that what I’m doing is beneficial. Recognition like this I’m hoping will also inspire other women to start their own businesses, which is something that I care deeply about. What that actually means to the business? I don’t really know. You don’t necessarily know where or how someone’s heard of you and often it’s a combination of things so time will really tell in terms of what opportunities it creates for me and the company.”
For Chantal, recognition gives her the opportunity to champion women and founders from diverse backgrounds. It’s important to her that she uses any platform she gains to help others and she’s happy to share advice to anyone who wants to follow in her footsteps.
“You’ve got to go into it knowing it’s never going to be a smooth journey. It’s really important to make sure that you’ve got a support network around you – friends, family, whoever it is – because you’re going to need their support to get you through a lot of the challenges. If you don’t take the opportunity now, then you’ll always regret it. There are often other jobs out there you might be able to go back to so you might as well just give it your best shot and forge your own path.”
With ClicknClear’s success continuing to grow, Chantal has an eye on the future and she’s ambitious about what she would like to achieve. Sharing her plans Chantal says:
“We’re growing as a company and we’re scaling up. We have secured an Innovate UK Creative Industries Fund grant so we’re getting started building out our verification system to help video on demand platforms identify the music that’s being used on their platform, so that they can avoid copyright infringement claims. That will be complete in January and expands our existing target market. Outside of that, we’re really focused on expanding into new markets, new sports, and finding other ways that we can use technology to help people solve their licensing problems.”
Find out more about ClicknClear at https://www.clicknclear.com
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