Neil Patel

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In the heart of every great entrepreneur lies a melody of resilience, innovation, and unwavering determination. Paul Wiltshire, a visionary hailing from the land down under, has orchestrated an awe-inspiring journey that harmonizes the fields of business and creativity.

In a captivating interview, Paul walks through the corridors of his past, unveiling the symphony of experiences that have shaped his remarkable career. He talks about his multiple acquisitions and how humility and confidence have been key to success. Paul’s company, Songtradr, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Richard White, Regal, Aware Super, and Perennial Partners.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Paul Wiltshire’s journey from musician to mogul epitomizes the fusion of creativity and entrepreneurship.
  • Songtradr’s success underscores the transformative power of visionary leadership and strategic acumen.
  • Acquisitions and integrations orchestrated by Paul exemplify the delicate balance between humility and confidence in business.
  • Cultural alignment across distributed offices fosters a global ensemble where creativity thrives, and innovation flourishes.
  • The visionary vision of Songtradr heralds a future where transparency and efficiency harmonize the music industry.
  • Paul’s emphasis on feedback, self-belief, and healthy routines underscores the importance of mental and physical well-being in entrepreneurship.
  • Lessons learned in hiring underscore the necessity of patience, rigorous processes, and cultural fit in building a successful team.



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About Paul Wiltshire:

Paul Wiltshire is a lifelong technologist and musician who began his professional career as a record producer, audio engineer, and songwriter.

He achieved global recognition, producing and/or writing music that achieved 12x #1 chart-topping albums/singles and 28× top 20 albums/singles, including over 20 multi-platinum, platinum, and gold awards.

During the early 2000s, Paul developed an Australian entertainment company “PLW Entertainment,” specializing in artist and rights management
and producing music for major record labels (e.g., Sony Music, BMG, and Universal).

PLW Entertainment was eventually sold to the Australian Stock Exchange-listed media company Goconnect Limited in 2010.

Paul Wiltshire and his family relocated from Australia to the United States in 2013 to develop a global B2B tech-enabled music licensing marketplace that solved the inefficiencies, rights fragmentation, and poor data issues in the music industry.

Songtradr, Inc. was launched and incorporated in 2014. Today, Songtradr is a globally recognized leading B2B music technology company.

Paul Wiltshire has stewarded Songtradr from its inception, guiding the company’s vision, business development, financial, marketing, and M&A strategy, product development, and customer acquisition.

Paul Wiltshire has extensive investor relations experience leading multiple capital raising rounds of over US$120,000,000, securing major institutional investors and key HNW individuals.

He has executed a highly successful M&A strategy, including Songtradr’s acquisition of 8 companies between 2019 and 2022.

Paul Wiltshire is a US, Australian, and British citizen, and he considers himself a citizen of the world.

He is passionate about the human condition and is an avid reader and student of history, economic and political evolution, social science, technological advancement, and living a fulfilling life.

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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the deal maker show. So today we have a really exciting founder with us you know founder that has a been there done it. You know, really amazing. You know the rocket ship that they’re in.

Paul Wiltshire: Are.

Alejandro Cremades: They’ve raised now a lot of money I mean 180000000, they’ve done like 9 acquisitions going from a to e ah you name it I find that thinking about you know how to go about those acquisitions thinking about attitude. Also the routine that he goes through. We’re going to talk about that. Not following others you know and having that combination of. Humility and confidence you know, being key. But again you know I find that the um, the conversation today is going to be quite inspiring so without farther. Do let’s welcome our guest today Paul Wilshire welcome to the show.

Paul Wiltshire: It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me today.

Alejandro Cremades: So originally from Australia give us a walk through memory lane. How is life growing up over there.

Paul Wiltshire: Well, it was very different to living here in America I was born in New York but my family were from england and we moved back to Australia when I was very young, growing up in Australia. It was a small town and I went to ah a humble high school. Ah. It was a little rough at times you know I had to get a little street smart at school and yeah, there was the eighty s so things were different. Um, but yeah I I yeah love and respect every part of my history because it it teaches you lessons that you need to learn.

Alejandro Cremades: So in your case, How do you get into music because obviously music has been pibotal. You know in your life and how did you started to develop the love for music.

Paul Wiltshire: You know I discovered music very early I think I just found a piano in someone’s house and immediately it was it was an affair you know I couldn’t couldn’t keep myself away from instruments I learned Trumpet. Ah when I was think in seventh grade right through to Twelfth Grade and I discovered synthesis. You know synthesizers when I was 16 and I got my first synthesize when I was 16 and that really changed my life. You know, being able to really use electronics to create sound was really the the genesis of ah of ah ah a great. To music production career that ensued after that.

Alejandro Cremades: I mean and quite a quite a success there too I mean you were producing for the likes of the backstreet boys. So how is that you know being a producer and and how was that journey like.

Paul Wiltshire: It was. It was a wonderful journey. It was it was about 20 years in total. So my producing and songwriting career began in the mid 90 s and I spent many years just in a studio working with you know, the. The platform is is called today logic audio and mixing consoles and equipment and working with musicians recording music playing music I was very hands-on I’d like doing everything from creating the sounds to playing in the music to recording every piece and then mixing. And it it was ah it was a time where you constantly had the um benefit of completion. You know, creating a product finishing it seeing it released and enjoying that it’s something that. I think as an entrepreneur. It’s very hard to feel because it feels like when you’re growing a business It’s never ending. There’s never that sort of finishing point I guess when you exit finally, but um, but that I missed the euphoria of finishing projects that music production gave me.

Alejandro Cremades: So Obviously on the music production I mean you were there for for quite a long time I mean we’re talking like we you were talking about two decades. You know there. So. It’s Incredible. How all of a sudden you decided to shift gears and in how in 2014. For example, you know is When. You took a different route when it came to your path to your career to everything that you knew So What caused that shift and and you know it’s interesting because they say that ideas you know they’re like dormant you know they take time to Incubate. So. Your case, What was that incuation like and what was that triggering point where you said Wow I think I’m gonna I’m gonna go and do this thing that I have no idea what it’s going to look like but I’ll take a step at it.

Paul Wiltshire: Well I think it was gradual I was always interested in business and although I very much wore a creative hat day-to-day and ah as a record producer and songwriter I was always thinking about the business I very much studied the music business. And I really got to understand music writes and music writes are fascinating because of just how fragmented the music industry is it really started out as ah, an industry that sold Cds or vinyl cassettes and was very regionalized and. When the digital age came it became very global instantly and the the ecosystem just wasn’t ready for it. So I think what was really eating away at me while I was in the studio creating was there’s a really big problem to solve in the music industry and I could see how quickly. Ah. Transition to the current reality I guess we’re in today was happening digitally everything was moving very quickly. There was more and more musicians getting access to tools to be able to create music on the supply side and on the demand side. There was more and more use of music and so I think what really happened it was a gradual realization something. Thinking about ah day in and day out and where I think I needed to develop enough confidence to go I can solve this I’m I’m going to make a big move and and you know move away from what was a quiet town of Melbourne in Australia to sort of.

Paul Wiltshire: Somewhat naively move over to Los Angeles with the belief that we could do it and um, but I knew that there was the the problem to solve that I was clear about and I I guess that journey into being commercial as well as creative was one that was gradual over. Over the many years I was in there and you had to be quite commercial to be successful as a record producer. Yeah, it’s not just about the creativity. There’s is a lot of hustle involved.

Alejandro Cremades: So I guess say then for the company for a song Trader Why ended up being the business model. You know how do you guys make money.

Paul Wiltshire: So we license music we license technology and ah as a result of our recent acquisition. We also sell music to consumers. Ah the the premise of the business model is that we ah. Take a share of the money that ultimately goes to artists labels publishers. So the supply side of the industry the demand side of the industry is b two b and b to c for us. So b 2 b being advertisers film tv games apps platforms anyone who uses music in a commercial or digital business environment and we have an enormous consumer audience on the platform platform Bandcamp. We recently acquired is about 50000000 people that use that platform that use it to discover new artists and by. Music from them by products merchandise. Vinyl t-shirts as well as digital music.

Alejandro Cremades: Do you remember that moment where you felt Wow I think we’re into something here.

Paul Wiltshire: Yes, ah it it was actually quite early on when we first launched song trader we and this was the early days I think too for sort of online social media advertising using Facebook and and platforms like that to advertise and we we hit. This point where someone was signing up an artist was signing up to our platform every couple of minutes and we really felt like oh this is this is actually working like we’re we’re getting real traction building a 2 side sided marketplace is quite challenging because um, the dynamics of you know of. You need supply in order to haven’t you know, be able to serve demand. We discovered was not exactly how our ah I guess flywheel worked and it was really more about growing demand that stimulated more supply and but that was a very difficult. Balance to to achieve in the early days but yeah answering the question in brief it was it was around 2016 when we saw thousands tens of thousands of artists signing up to our platform.

Alejandro Cremades: So how did you go about to the um, the financing of the business because I mean you guys have a raised quite a bit you know 180000000 so how has it been to the journey of capitalizing the business and making sure that you were able to support the the growth.

Paul Wiltshire: So we’ve always had a philosophy of only raise what you need I think the mistake sometimes that that can be made. Is you go out and raise too much. You make big mistakes and we found that we we only ah in the early days we raised just enough. To get us through to that sort of next milestone that next point of proof and ah we are fortunate enough to to have traction along the way which helped us gain a very supportive investor base many of our investors have invested in multiple times 3 and 4 times. And we also expanded our strategy to include m and a ah not for any kind of rollup reason but it was really talking to the fragmentation that exists in the music business in that there were a number of mature but isolated businesses. That when combined with our core platform and business model. Ah really created a a very valuable accreative effect and we we approached the the following years accordingly. It’s like we we felt that. The the industry is moving faster and faster which means we have to move faster faster than organic ah growth without the stimulus of extra capital and using m and a to to really expand the business. Ah, we’ve done you know since 2019 about 9 transactions.

Paul Wiltshire: Ah, we’ve we’ve acquired very key pieces of what we really see as ah as a broader puzzle ah to to to be where we are today and we’re not done yet. We still see so much opportunity ahead of us and yeah, bigger chunkier challenges ahead of us. Um, but the momentum is there now to support that growth and we feel like we’re on ah on the right path after yeah, plenty of times where you you think you’ve got something nailed you think you’ve got the right product idea but you have to face up that you didn’t get that 1 right? and you need to.

Alejandro Cremades: Well as they say 90% of acquisitions fail because of the integration right? The integration is really tough and in your guys’ case I mean you’ve done quite a bit you know of acquisitions you know I’m sure that you’ve learned a lot. You know some of them to accelerate the technology or the a customer acquisition.

Paul Wiltshire: Correct course.

Alejandro Cremades: Grow in organically so I guess now that you’ve done all these acquisitions. What have you learned from being able to do a successful ah acquisition like meaning that you’re able to identify the right target for the right reasons you know at that point for the business. And then also going about doing a successful integration tool.

Paul Wiltshire: So there’s a number of factors that lead to to a successful acquisition and into and subsequent integration and ah that depends on size too. So I think one one factor is it is it a small tuck in or is it quite a large integration. Another key factor is.

Paul Wiltshire: Is the is the target still founder- led versus has it matured to a point where there’s been an excerpt. There’s been another subsequent investor as a p owned or some other framework that’s gone on to own the companies beyond the founder. There is always the challenge of um. Merging cultures and one of the most important lenses that we look through is is there a culture fit are we going to be able to transition this team to be part of our broader culture without too much friction. That’s one very key key piece because there are times where it’s just It’s chalk and cheeses and it’s not going to work. It’s going to be too costly. It’s going to be too hard and we’ve walked away from opportunities in that regard and then I think the last point is integrate fast. Don’t do it slowly. Don’t bring in a company and sit on it for a year or 2 integrate quickly. have 1 team one system this is what we do we have 1 product team 1 technology team 1 marketing team one finance team and and 1 people, team, etc. And so we integrate very quickly and we find that that is far more beneficial for a smoother integration than. Postponing what inevitably has to happen.

Alejandro Cremades: What do you mean with cultural fit. What does it look like when there is a fit or when there’s not a fit.

Paul Wiltshire: So It can mean ah it can mean many things I think ah you know you get different cultures depending on the type of Business. We’ve bought very creative businesses and we’ve bought pure play technology businesses. But I think the best way to describe a fit is where there’s a match. Or a nearmatch of core values and our core values are ah very clear where we really value humility a confident humility for want of a better term and transparency honesty being able to speak out being able to have a voice being able to Talk. Talk freely about issues and so if if we’re if we find that there’s a structure where or or a team that that is um, overconfident overselling themselves. Yeah, really presenting something that is Fictional. We. It’s an alarm Bell as an example so there are many sort of aspects to culture fit but generally speaking we look for we look for people we would like to work with people that feel like we can be a team together that we can be honest with each other.

Alejandro Cremades: So I guess say on this note as we’re talking about people. You also have distributed offices. You have people in the us you have people in Uk and and I guess the yeah how have you gone about to embracing culture when you have distributed offices because obviously. You know you’ll have the the h q where you know you’re infusing their the culture but all these different offices. They’re also going to have their own culture. So how do you go about making sure that there’s that alignment that consistency.

Paul Wiltshire: I think you can overdo like overcontrol and we don’t try to overcon control. You know the Uk team has its own nuances that we have a big team in Amsterdam we have a team in Australia. And it’s we’re we’re not all practicing exactly the same sort of daily routines and ah and ah, but we are all using the same technology the same communications the same way working the same reporting. So I think it’s really about. Bringing the team together so that they understand that the mission and the focus of the company. They understand what we represent. Um, but 1 of the biggest issues one of the biggest ah important factors is integrate the teams so we don’t have and this was actually a recent change for us. We don’t have isolated reporting structures in each country the reporting structures across country so that the teams are actually across border so we don’t have like for example, just the Amsterdam team with ah with its own reporting structure. Or the england english team with its own reporting structure the the structure crosses borders and that we find that is has been far healthier far more productive and ah far more efficient.

Alejandro Cremades: Now in your guys’s case you know when we’re thinking about to culture. We’re talking about investment I want to I want to talk about vision because that’s something that is going to get people excited and get them rallied and and fired up so when we’re thinking about the vision here of song trader imagine. If you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision is fully realized what does that world look like Paul.

Paul Wiltshire: That world for for through our eyes looks like a music industry that has no data problems that is paid efficiently transparently every dollar that is due for every piece of music that is played and. The current reality is far from that and so we ah we are essentially building music industry infrastructure to streamline and improve that reality so we do see and a future where that’s possible because it’s. All online and or the majority of the industries online and it’s certainly becoming more. So.

Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case I know that the humility and confidence is a good combo. Why is that the case.

Paul Wiltshire: Well so I think you know arrogance and Insecurity is the enemy right? So that can lead to all kinds of negative effects. Um why?? why? we why I So Why we say you know confident. Humble, humbly confident which is that one of our core values is that anyone in the team has to be humble enough to know when they have maybe could could have room for improvement and you know we believe in feedback between manager and and an employee where. The employee gets to provide feedback on the manager and vice versa. So It’s part of our culture to to have that embedded in the relationship. Um, but I think it’s also much more valuable because everyone feels confident enough to speak up. Ah if they’ve got the. Ah, good idea in the room not and be afraid to be talked down because there’s you know someone dominating the space. Um, so we find that you know that combination of confidence and humility creates a much better. Um, creative. And productive atmosphere and you’re more likely to build a better product as a result.

Alejandro Cremades: And you know just to double click on this for the founders that are right now tuning in why self confidencedence I believe you know it so important there could be so important in their own journeys.

Paul Wiltshire: I I spend I spend time a lot of time my week on Health and I I think healthy mind and the exercise meditation are crucial for. Clear thinking and I think for founders one of the things that can really um, Destroy a business is doom loops and fear. It’s when this is not working we need to quickly change Core. So This is not working Oh I’m going to run out of money I’m not if you walk in with that type of energy into a investor meeting the investor going to intuitively pick up that there’s a problem here. There’s There’s ah, there’s a lack of belief. Um, you know there are times where you know things aren’t going to work out and know and it might be that you have a product that’s just not Ah, it’s not going to work and it’s not going to be a right fit. But I think it’s very important for founders and entrepreneurs who are really big risk takers to back that risk taking mentality. With us with a self-belief and a faith in themselves. But that doesn’t It’s not enough on its own. It needs to be accompanied with research and and self-criticism in a healthy Way. So.

Paul Wiltshire: What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What’s working What’s not working feedback from team members from leadership from employees not and this is where the arrogance becomes the enemy is like oh I built this product I need to be right I need to make sure that the world sees me successful. These these are useless thoughts like you really have to be thinking. What does the customer want what is working What’s not.. It’s not about you. It’s about Ah, it’s about the customers about the business and I think that’s where self-belief is important but it shouldn’t be projected as um. Overconfidence. Yeah, it’s that balance in my view in my view.

Alejandro Cremades: So you are talking there about you know how important the state of mind and and also Health is to you so walk us through what does the typical routine or or ritual you know for for a day you know look like for for you? yeah.

Paul Wiltshire: Summer I’m a five a m start I I will normally have a coffee in bed and read news stories. Check you know anything that’s coming overnight that’s urgent deal with that us from 6 till eight I’ll I’ll be working out. Um. If I can fit some meditation in there I will too and usually my day starts around eight thirty Eight fifteen ah I work through ah till quite late most nights I’m I’m probably working till around 7 or eight o’clock and but I also take a.

Paul Wiltshire: 45 minute to an hour break in the afternoon way I also exercise again I just find that gives me the fuel for sort of an an afternoon evening session and just ah recalibrates me after you know sometimes a bit a busy and fatiquing day.

Alejandro Cremades: So obviously now you’ve you’ve been at it for for quite a while with with song trader I mean we’re talking about you know over a decade here which is like insane you know in in imagine you know in compare to corporate that would be like 100 years right I mean it’s amazing. So. So obviously a ton of lessons learned you know tons of ups a tons of downs. You know, successes lessons learned you name it. So if I was to put you into a time machine and let’s say I was able to bring you back to 2014 to that moment where you are like screw. It. Let’s do it. But let’s say you were able to have a sit down with that younger Paul right there on the spot and you were able to give that younger poll 1 piece of advice before launching the business. Why would that be and why given what you know now.

Paul Wiltshire: That’s a very good question. The single piece the single piece of advice I think I would say is people are the most important part of the business and. Be decisive when you know someone’s not right? and um, focus on that right? culture fit the right person right? seat I think that.

Alejandro Cremades: So Let let’s double click on that if if you don’t mind I Guess what have you learned about people because you know, especially when it comes to to hypergrows startups. I mean there’s a lot of it. You know and and in in over a Decade. You’ve probably seen a lot. So. What have you learned about people.

Paul Wiltshire: There is there is so mean there’s so much I don’t know where to start. Ah I think that there are often when you’re growing a company. You get a lot of inbound you know. I can help you do this I can help you take it from here to here you know consultants to um to your people just looking for their next gig and and ah enthused by growth and enthused by where you’re heading and it’s It’s sometimes easy to be seduced by their resume and where you think that could take the business and sometimes it works out when it’s the right when it’s the right fit. But I think what I’ve really learned that it it really does come down to How do they approach each day. Um, ah a thick long resume doesn’t mean they’re going to be working harder. It can actually sometimes mean that they’re they’re kind of tired because They’ve’ve they’ve had their success. They’re they’re really looking for an easier easier life to benefit from their network whereas you know. When you’re building a startup you need to really dig in. You need people who are going to grind people are going to work all day and and going to do that. Go that to that extra level to to deliver and so I think um I mean that’s 1 aspect. There are other aspects where um, not having a rigorous enough.

Paul Wiltshire: Ah, process in terms of employment or having one interview is not enough you you need to you need to meet people 3 4 sometimes 5 times and we’ve got ah ah a global people function now where it’s very rigorous and and it’s ah it’s a process and we we find that we. We rarely get things wrong now but in the early days. You know it was just I think it was just me making a final decision on someone and I I think sometimes when um, yeah I think it’s easy to be sold to when you’re. When when you’re moving quickly and you you need to solve a problem and you think they’re the right solution you move too quickly. But ah my advice would be move slower when it comes to hiring. So yeah I know this is a common saying hi slow fire fast. But that. That would be I think the biggest lessons I’ve had along the way have been people related and and getting that right getting that early don’t be in a rush even though you’re you’re always in a rush as an entrepreneur but that’s the 1 thing you can’t rush.

Alejandro Cremades: I love it. So Paul for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.

Paul Wiltshire: They can hit me up on Linkedin um, my email is [email protected] that it’s ah it’s a pretty heavy inbox but I I try to I try to answer everything I can which which comes in but which I aside from.

Paul Wiltshire: The hundreds of businesses trying to sell businesses but every day but.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Why hey Paul thank you so much for being on the show today. It has been an absolute honor to have you with us.

Paul Wiltshire: Ah, it’s been a pleasure and thank you for asking me on I It’s ah hope it’s for good for the tip good for the people.


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