Opportunity Knocks: From ads to music to film, Fort Worth entrepreneur answered the call

 Daniel McCarthy MusicBed

Musicbed is a full service licensing platform. We provide a highly curated selection of songs to filmmakers for use in media projects. We’re all about making quality music easily accessible, empowering creatives to tell better stories, and supporting musical artists.

• Musicbed’s reel: https://www.vimeo.com/221028986

• Musicbed’s licensed music being used in 2016 Body Team 12: https://www.blog.musicbed.com/articles/body-team-12-oscar-nominated-short-documentary/157

• Musicbed’s licensed music being used in 2017 Joe’s Violin: http://www.oscar.go.com/nominees/documentary-short/joes-violin

- FWBP Digital Partners -

• Musicbed’s licensed music being used in an Energy Tomorrow video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKkCskJ6QzQ

Linda Kessler


There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who answer the door when opportunity comes knocking, and those who don’t.

- Advertisement -

Thirty-one-year-old Daniel McCarthy is one of those who opens the door.

McCarthy grew up in Fort Worth and attended Southwest High School and then Dallas Baptist University for a time, earning credits toward a bachelor’s degree in music business. Before graduating, however, he got a job as a designer for an advertising agency.

From there he worked his way up to running the agency, Concept Culture. It was from within the agency, working on commercials that needed great soundtracks, that McCarthy and his team saw the potential for an online music licensing platform.

And from that potential, Musicbed was formed.

- Advertisement -


Musicbed was established in 2011 and now is a full-service music licensing company for filmmakers and creatives to license songs for their films and commercials.

“We were running an advertising agency, we were shooting commercials and there wasn’t a lot of access to great music. So it was kind of a self-fulfilling need,” McCarthy said. “We worked in the advertising world all day long and then nights and weekends we were starting Musicbed.”

Twelve months later, the entire team had transferred over to Musicbed, which was funded through the ad agency. Now in its sixth year, Fort Worth-based Musicbed is an international licensing company with 40 percent of its revenue coming from outside the United States and most of the U.S. revenue coming from outside Texas.

Musicbed represents about 800 musicians, has worked with about 75,000 clients and has about 20,000 songs on its website at any time. Its clients have included the top 25 ad agencies in the nation; businesses such as Apple, Samsung and Facebook; and every major car manufacturer, McCarthy says.

He added that Musicbed has worked with the majority of companies on the Fortune 500 list. During the 2017 presidential race, Musicbed licensed a song to candidates in both major political parties.

McCarthy says being a full service company means not only does Musicbed have full rights to all songs in its catalogue, but it licenses songs for every kind of use – advertising, TV, film, video games, movie trailers, wedding videos, nonprofit films and personal films for YouTube or Vimeo.

“I think the thing that we have here, I can’t really take credit for it,” McCarthy said. “Any entrepreneur that feels like they can take credit for their great, innovative success is probably fooling themselves because there’s a lot more to it than just them.”

McCarthy says that if entrepreneurs want to start a business like he did, without taking out a bank loan or finding investors, they have to understand two key things.

First, they have to understand the timing and where the market is regarding their industry. Second, he says, they better be willing to choose a niche.

Entrepreneurs have to be aware of the where the market is, where it’s heading and how fast is going to get there, he says. In addition, they has to be aware of how much impact they can actually have in the market based on its saturation.

“You can definitely have a dream of being industry-dominant, but if you’re going to do this without money you definitely have to start somewhere,” McCarthy said. “For us, we started in wedding films and nonprofits … We grew gradually into being a full-service agency. Early on, we just weren’t.”

McCarthy says that from focusing on wedding films and nonprofits the company moved into commercials and advertising two years later, TV and film a year after that, then video games and everything else another year later. If Musicbed had wanted to offer all of those services on day one, he says, it would have had to have millions of dollars of funding.

Musicbed was in a unique place to start and grow, he says, but given the current market they couldn’t start the company the same way today.

“I do talk to a lot of people that are, like, how do I know when to make the leap? And I guess my thought is, how do you not know,” McCarthy said. “With Musicbed, I guess looking back on it, I mean, we were running a successful creative agency, it was growing, and we had this stupid idea to own a music licensing company.

“But it’s like the writing is on the wall. Not jumping into that, that seemed like the crazy idea. It’s not the opposite,” he continued. “It’s not like we were all sitting around thinking, like, do we do it, do we not do it? Do we take the jump, do we not take the jump? No. It was, like, it’s so clear, this is our only path forward.”


As Musicbed worked with its clients the team members noticed they kept receiving requests for video in addition to music. So McCarthy decided to take the jump and start Filmsupply.

Filmsupply was funded through Musicbed and founded in the last quarter of 2015. It has about 100,000 video clips on its website and that number is growing.

The combined team for the companies includes 45 full-time staff plus contract workers. While each company has its own teams, because the companies are both based online, both are run out of the Musicbed building.

Just like Musicbed, Filmsupply’s business is 35-40 percent international. Within the United States, it does a lot of its work in most major metropolitan areas across the nation such as Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

But setting up Filmsupply presented more challenges than setting up Musicbed, McCarthy said. “I think we probably underestimated a little of how difficult and expensive it was going to be to launch it.”

“But, as with most things in life, if you truly count the cost you’ll never do anything,” he added.

While on the surface the companies seem similar, McCarthy said, they differ in the technicalities for uploading content, in server costs and engineering time, and in client base.

One thing they shared, however, was the impact they hoped to make for creative people all over the world. McCarthy says that both musicians and filmmakers are stuck in a creative cycle where they have a passion and they do what they love every day, but most of them have to tweak their passion to make their work and lifestyle financially feasible.

“What Musicbed did for them was allow them to release the records that they love and generate revenue from it. And the same thing for filmmakers,” McCarthy said. “I think what Filmsupply has done for so many of them is take their passion projects, take their films that they’re shooting, take the movies that they’re making and actually be able to license some of that footage to be able to generate revenue.

“Our goal is [to] generate enough revenue per month for them that they can begin to shape their career in a different way so they actually have the time to invest in projects they believe in,” he said.

Artists do not pay to have their content featured on the Musicbed or Filmsupply website; rather, the company takes a portion of the generated revenue. McCarthy says something unique about both companies is that they pay all company expenses out of company revenue and the artists always receive the majority of the dollar.

When it comes to finding the creators to use the Musicbed and Filmsupply platforms, McCarthy says he can’t simply rely on word-of-mouth because “at the end of the day, I believe that … the best creatives in the world are busy.”

“They’re busy, they’re working, they’re not slowing down a lot to look around and find a place to put their [content],” he said. “I think we always have to be very intentional about our pursuit to get great filmmakers and sign them. They definitely both have a great reputation in the industry, but you always have to keep your foot on the gas and make sure you don’t [stagnate].”


Though at age 31 McCarthy has founded two businesses and run another, he says he didn’t always imagine he’d be an entrepreneur.

“I think I’ve always said yes and figured out how to do it later,” McCarthy said. “I think there were a lot of signs that I might one day own a business, but I guess I don’t feel like I ever made the choice. I don’t feel like I ever decided that I was going to be a business owner.”

McCarthy says that if someone’s in a business that has really taken off and is doing something different and great, there’s a lot more than just the entrepreneur involved. “Most likely there’s a lot of good timing and some luck and some other things involved.” He referred to computer entrepreneur Michael Dell, who says that if he had stayed in college he would have totally missed his opportunity.

But just as timing is important to starting a business, it’s also key in growing the business. McCarthy says he thinks his businesses, Musicbed especially, are going through a unique time right now.

“We’ve been going for six years and seeing really tremendous growth, and we’re in a very pivotal moment as a brand where you either sit on your throne and relax – which we do not want to do – or you retool it and kind of re-engage with a customer base,” he said, adding that he “unfortunately” is not satisfied with 20 percent year-over-year growth.

McCarthy said he’s witnessed 100 and 150 percent growth with his own eyes. And while he admits businesses can’t grow by 100 percent year-over-year for 30 years, he says businesses can do things to set themselves up for year-over-year exponential growth.

“I don’t think companies should be happy with their 3 and 4 and 5 percent growth year-over-year. We’re in a phase right now where I’m only going to settle for hyper-growth,” McCarthy said. “I just think we have to retool and rethink and make sure that we go into 2018 fully committed to the vision and the plan for the next two or three years.”

Time and luck aren’t the only things involved in starting and maintaining a successful business; McCarthy also points to having good relationships and a person or people to use as sounding boards for ideas and decisions.

For him, it’s not one person but a collection of his community that he uses for counsel, from his wife and family to his spiritual network. His wife,

Hayley, is CFO for both companies. The couple have been married 10 years and have three children, Esther, 3, Sydney, 5, and Eisley, 8.

“I feel like I’m pretty rich in relationships. I’ve got great pastors and great parents and a great business coach, and I think I wouldn’t necessarily name one of them [as a mentor],” McCarthy said. “It’s just, if you’re trying to go it alone it’s going to be really difficult.”

But, McCarthy cautions, having those people doesn’t mean just running with their advice. For one thing, he says, there’s wise counsel and then there’s your gut, and entrepreneurs and business owners should always be testing what’s given to them against the thought of “What am I called to do?”

“I think not bringing [decisions] before wise counsel is dumb, but taking anybody’s advice and just running with that advice without processing it is just crazy,” he said.


Musicbed and Filmsupply have come together to create the first Film + Music Conference in the Fort Worth area. The conference is expected to be an annual event, aiming to bring the film community together for inspiration, education and live music in Fort Worth, according to the event’s webpage.

The conference is scheduled for Sept. 29-30 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, with a kickoff party at 8 p.m. Sept. 28 and an after party at 8 p.m. Sept. 30.

Tickets are $599. For a list of keynote speakers and breakout sessions, go to https://goo.gl/TDB1Pb.

“I think my goal for the conference is that it would continue to grow and that the filmmakers that come would truly get a very authentic, inspirational, educational experience,” said Daniel McCarthy, founder of Musicbed. “I think a lot of times you spend money and you go to a conference and it was a bit of a letdown. I think people that come this year are definitely going to leave thinking that they spent way less money than they probably should have to be there.”

McCarthy says his team has wanted to host a conference because there aren’t other events like this in the area. While there are big trade shows, McCarthy says, there are not a lot of boutique conferences like this in the area, or in the industry overall.

He said his company values cultivating and maintaining relationships, which is a key goal of the conference. If the filmmakers who attend leave with a new way of thinking and some new relationships, McCarthy says, the event will have been a success.

Another of the company’s values is innovation. McCarthy says it always tries to inspire the creatives and clients it works with to keep pushing their craft. In that way, the Film + Music Conference is a method of gathering those people to both build relationships and shape their craft.

“The theme of the event this year is ‘Break the Mold,’” he said. “I think for us that’s something that we try to do as a company all the time.

“We’re not allowed to say this is the way we’ve always done it,” McCarthy continued. “I think you always have to take the mold that you’ve kind of created for yourself – in the way that you write or the way that you shoot films or the way that you interpret creativity or whatever – and you have to be willing to disrupt it.”