Yesterday, we reported on the launch of music-making app Endlesss. One of the British startup’s investors is music management company ie:music, through a new arm called ie:ventures. Director Stephen O’Reilly told us more about the new division, and why the company – whose artists include Robbie Williams, Passenger and Ladyhawke – is getting into startup funding.
The new division was established in stealth mode over the last year. “Our core philosophy has always been that the artist and the fan are the two most important parts of the music industry; everybody else and their egos are just the gloop in the middle,” said O’Reilly. “We want to partner with entrepreneurs and technologies that have a shared vision in that. People that create the good gloop.”
ie:ventures isn’t just about investing money in startups: it’s also about partnerships for the company’s own new projects. “We have ‘ventures’ in music tech and other investments in the startup space. We also will be unveiling initiatives we are working on such as artist services, IP creation, education and other areas,” said O’Reilly.
“We have invested in and partnered with a number of emerging tech startups. In some instances we have invested hard cash and in other instances some sweat equity depending on what’s most appropriate. By the end of this year, we expect to have about a dozen startups in our portfolio.”
Endlesss is one of the first of those, with O’Reilly describing its founder Tim Exile as “one of the most inspiring startup founders I have ever met: we are proud of what he has built and the value we have added since we partnered with him”.
Another startup already in ie:ventures’ portfolio is Rostr, the music industry network founded last year by former Spotify exec Mark Williamson, and Rippla, a London-based startup which O’Reilly described as “a platform for exclusive content to be screened at local venues around the globe”. Another investment is in So.Co, a startup connecting fans to photographers at concerts and festivals around the world.
O’Reilly said that education is also on ie:ventures’ radar. “We are deeply passionate about online learning and have equity in a UK music university. Music management is also about education, training and continuous learning and can’t wait to be able to share more on the front,” he said. “We also have our own original IP that we are creating in house. Our own ‘ie:labs’ if you will.”
Looking forward, ie:ventures is casting its net wide, looking for startups operating in and around D2C, e-commerce, CRM, ticketing, data transparency, digital distribution, AI and education.
“We have been working with startups for a very long time and have always tried to partner with and empower them. We have championed them, used their technology and helped them to validate their offerings,” said O’Reilly, who even before he joined ie:music was a widely known and liked connector of people within the music and tech worlds.
“ie:music have always had time for startup entrepreneurs with ideas and we always will. We also have a reputation as a pioneering management company, always embracing the opportunities that digital technology enables,” he said.
“We have what I believe to be the best artist services team in the business who have been at the forefront of artist – fan engagement for a decade leveraging digital technology and best practice. Everything we have done in the past in the digital space has emboldened our belief that we can be successful in this area.”