Created by Matt Pelling in 2002, Loopmasters is one of the most established sample pack producers in the market. They also own Plugin Boutique, arguably the most popular marketplace for music software. After decades of selling packs via their website, they launched a service called Loopcloud that allows for buying and demoing samples directly from your DAW. Since zplane contributed some software to the platform, we decided to have a chat with Matt about his company and the progress they’ve made in the last few years.
– Hi Matt. It’s a pleasure to speak with you. There’s been some changes taking place with Loopmasters in the last few years, such as new corporate ownership. Can you talk about that?
Sure. Plugin Boutique and Loopmasters were sold to Beatport at the end of 2020, which was a big change. With the shift in the marketplace and the large amounts of VC money coming into it, we needed backing from some of the bigger visionaries like Beatport to help push things forward.
,– Another change in the last few years is the launch of Loopcloud. How did that come about?
For many years, other sampling companies would release romplers or other branded products, but I avoided it because Loopmasters didn’t have a strong enough idea to be a trailblazer. That is, until some years ago – we’d gotten to a point of releasing so many packs that it was creating a problem for our customers: they’d spend more time looking through their samples than actually making music. I felt guilty about that because it wasn’t the intention behind our business, so we wanted to find a solution that would reward our customers for having bought all their packs. That was the genesis of Loopcloud.
Loopcloud is a subscription service released in 2017 that lets you create your own library of samples from the thousands of packs we offer. It also lets you preview sounds in real-time before you commit to buying them, and contains AI tech from Jamahook that analyzes the key and melody of the loop you’re previewing so it can find others that’ll match with it. The AI can even find loops that match harmonically or rhythmically. Whilst Loopcloud might have a bigger learning curve than some of our competitors, it offers a superior level of integration if you’re willing to spend a few hours getting used to the interface.
We’ve got another two years worth of development planned, so the next step is to improve the UX so it looks less like a store and more like a Google search that’s intelligent, meaning it would ask you a few questions and deliver relevant and personalized results.
– Loopmasters entered into a partnership with Splice that lasted from 2015 – 2019. Can you talk about that?
Prior to Loopcloud, we were helping Splice build their own subscription service called Splice Sounds. That gave us a lot of insight into the SaaS model, which became common practice with other companies like LANDR and Output. We’ve still got a few changes to make in terms of the business model for Loopcloud, but I think we’re making progress with the numbers of subscribers we’ve got and how we’re paying our labels.
– Would you have done anything different regarding the Splice partnership? Was there anything you learned from it?
I probably would’ve sought out investment capital earlier. I come from a background of running businesses for profit, so the idea of taking on huge debts to get market share with a long-term vision of being worth millions was beyond my wildest dreams. I always had high aspirations for Loopmasters, but this new business model wasn’t fully proven and had risks attached, so it needed to be done by a company like Splice who was prepared to put tens of millions into the marketing side. That wasn’t where Loopmasters was at as a company back then.
In terms of what I learned, it’s clear in hindsight that the levels of marketing and branding in the industry were on the rise. We’d already seen with Native Instrument that the standard had gone up a notch and I think Splice took it up further, which made us realize that we needed to up our game. The cottage industry that Loopmasters came from wasn’t providing enough competition for us to innovate, and perhaps we became comfortable with the level marketing we did. I do believe that Loopcloud’s technology is much better than what that you can find elsewhere, but branding goes a long way to create a feeling of quality, and that’s what some of our competitors did better than us.
– Loopcloud appears to have been quite successful. How big is your userbase. Is it in the millions?
I wish (laughs). We’ve had hundreds of thousands of sign-ups since we launched but our current user base is in the tens of thousands. Our churn rate is going down, the lifetime value is going up, and we’re adding more incentives for people to stay with us, so we’re in a good place.
– In the last few years, we’ve seen thousands of sample packs flood the market, and there’s a sentiment that the number of releases are excessive. What are your thoughts on this?
I don’t think there’s a problem with offering a large number of samples, though we do have a responsibility to help our customers navigate our products and personalize their experience based on browsing and purchase history. For example, we’ve just added in “Collections”, which is a feature that lets customers, labels and artists create their own lists of favorite samples. By combining that with the Jamahook technology, we can refine and personalize your search to save you time. So in that context, the larger the database the better because more relevant results will be presented to you. We have around 60 labels we’re working with, so it’s not impossible for 20 packs to come out in one week. That might seem like a crazy amount of output if we were still operating under our old business model, but with the launch of Loopcloud it’s not a bad thing to have more options.
– What’s been your bestselling pack thus far?
I don’t think anything’s surpassed the Deadmau5 XFER. It came out at a time when our catalog was much smaller and it was quite expensive at £60, so it’s still the leader in terms of revenue generated. In terms of our bestselling pack of all time, I’m not quite sure.
– Let’s talk about your relationship with zplane. What was the genesis of that relationship?
zplane’s ELASTIQUE is used inside of Loopcloud, which lets us instantly time-stretch any sound so it works with our API. We chose zplane because they’re great people to deal with and their algorithm is really smooth. I’ve been seeing Tim and Martin at NAMM for a long time, so when we needed ELASTIQUE, it was a natural conversation for us to have. This was around the time that Plugin Boutique was coming into its own, and we wanted to sell zplane’s products on there, so it made sense to start a partnership. Since then, we’ve also done some R&D together on various projects where Loopmasters supplied sounds for zplane to run tests on to improve their algorithms.
– What have been your thoughts on ELASTIQUE thus far?
It’s one of the best tools at what it does and helped us realize our goal of completing Loopcloud. It hardly produces any artifacts, and if we had to develop our own time-stretching algorithm, the Loopcloud roadmap would’ve been delayed by a year or cost a lot more money. So we found working with zplane to be great.
– Was zplane your first choice for a licensing partner?
zplane was definitely our first choice, and to be quite honest, we found their rates to be reasonable. We weren’t sure what licensing an SDK would cost when we first began our discussions, and since zplane’s algorithms are used in Ableton, we thought they would charge us six figures a year. Had that been the case, we would’ve developed a time-stretching solution ourselves. But zplane were reasonable with what they asked, so it seemed like a very natural choice to work with them. They also invest into their technology so it improves over time, which is great for us.
– Have you found zplane’s customer service to be to your liking?
Definitely. I’ve got absolutely no complaints about working with zplane. I’ve actually been trying to lock in a much longer term licensing deal just to put my mind at ease for the future, and they’ve been very accommodating about that. They’ve also been very responsive – there hasn’t been many things we’ve needed to get their attention about because the product just works, We’ve also come to expect a number of updates every year as well, which means they’re always working on the technology. So, yeah, it’s been very easy to work with those guys.
– As Loopcloud continues to develop, do you anticipate having to license other SDKs from zplane?
We’re always interested to see what zplane are up to. We’ll definitely brainstorm internally to see if any new SDKs could be applied to our vision. I believe they’re working on a stem separation algorithm, and I think they made some kind of guitar-based algorithm a year ago. Those are things we review to see if it’s something we can build into our long-term strategy.
– Thanks for talking to us Matt. What’s the most immediate concern for you guys at Loopmasters?
I think the best software is complicated underneath but very simple upfront, and that’s our goal for Loopcloud at the moment. We want people to feel that Loopcloud speaks to them naturally because it’s intelligent and knows what you like, but without pigeonholing you into seeing only one genre of packs. The goal is to make people realize that Loopcloud can be your production partner that’s meant to save you time and inspire you to get your tracks done quicker. So that’s our focus for the near future.