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Magnus Rydén

Using his experience gained from a long music career (playing in several bands and working as a producer and DJ) VP Music at Soundtrack Your Brand and MSc alum Magnus Rydén helps set the mood. You might never have noticed it, but companies play specific music that, for example, clears tables in a fast food restaurant, lets shoppers focus on their shopping in a clothing store or perhaps creates a luxurious and elegant ambience in a hotel lobby.

Please describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

At Soundtrack Your Brand, I head up the music department which consists of a team of music curators with various musical backgrounds. The team is responsible for the music offering in the product. This involves a lot. For instance, monitoring musical trends, coming up with concepts for playlists targeted towards various types of businesses, building and packaging playlists, monitoring and reacting on customer usage of the music offering, categorizing music and adding meta data to it to be used in machine learning, evaluating the performance of machine learning models, developing music recommendation strategies and delivering content to marketing campaigns.


What is your creative process when it comes to creating/producing/choosing music? 

We always start with our customers and their needs. A certain concept or playlist needs to have a clear purpose. It could be anything from music that clears tables in a fast food restaurant to music that lets shoppers focus on their shopping in a clothing store or perhaps creates a luxurious and elegant ambience in a hotel lobby. Coming up with the concept and how to package it are really the more creative parts of the process. Once that is done it is only about finding the right music.


How has the music industry changed over the years?

Basically you could say that the B2B space of the music industry is at least ten years behind the B2C space in terms of the digitization. Ten years ago, when I started working with background music, many of our customers worked with hard drive solutions where we would send memory cards with music updates. Even iPods or CDs were quite common as a way to distribute the music. Streaming solutions hardly existed, especially not in the US. Today streaming is finally becoming the norm, but we still have a long way to go.


What drew you to Soundtrack Your Brand? 

Back in 2015 I was together with my long time partner Alf Tumble running a music branding agency which was still very analog when it comes to the distribution of music. Over the years I had e-mailed Spotify several times asking them if they were ever going to launch a business version of their product. When I finally found out that Soundtrack Your brand had acquired the rights to build the "Spotify for Business” product (which it was initially called), and that a friend from the past was one of the founders, I took the opportunity to join the company. The idea of working at a global music tech company and be responsible for building their music offering from scratch intrigued me a lot. 


What excites you about your work? Where do you think the music industry is going in the next 5-10 years?

Music has always been a great passion of mine. During my whole childhood and study period I played in several bands and after graduating from SSE I embarked on a musical career as a producer and DJ. So the ability to combine my musical background with all knowledge I got from studying at SSE is very fulfilling. Considering my background, it also excites me to be able to help artists and songwriters get paid more when their work is being used by businesses. Using music in the right way in your business can increase sales. This has been proven in many academic studies. Then of course artists should get a piece of that pie. Historically this has not been the case, both due to ignorance and due to stinginess amongst business owners. Even today, a majority of companies use consumer services like Spotify and Youtube to stream music in their businesses even though they are not allowed to. Now finally we are starting to see a change in attitudes. This is one of the big changes in the industry I think we are going to see in the next five to ten years. That, together with a continuation of the digitization of the industry as a whole.


You’ve chosen perhaps an untraditional career path after SSE, but how has your time/education at SSE help you in your career?

On a general level I would say that critical and strategic thinking is something I learned during my years at SSE which has helped me a lot. As well as the skill to present a case built on relevant data and analysis. The mantra of Michael Dahléns "don’t use your gut feeling” still sits clearly in the back of my head. More specifically, my major in marketing has helped me a lot in my day-to-day working with music and how it affects consumer behaviors and brand building. 


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students? 

Sometimes during my education I asked myself why I was studying a certain course and what on earth I would gain from it. In hindsight, I have come to realize that all courses (perhaps with a few exceptions) have created a broad mosaic of insights that, taken together, has really set me up to be able to shape my own professional career path. So just hang in there even when you might have a bad day. The rewards will come!


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE?

Fika. Datasalarna. Grupparbete.