It’s that time of the year again! Four inches of snow is about to stop literally everything in Britain working. The Darkness are still giggling at getting away with the bellend / ringpiece lyrics. And Music Ally is continuing our series of 2022 roundup articles!
Today’s focuses on funding rounds for startups (and bigger companies) in and around music/tech. 2022 may have been distinctly wobbly when it came to the global economy, but a lot of companies in our space were still raising money.
Think of it as a primer on the interesting startups, services and platforms who investors believed had potential and momentum in 2022 – apart from the one that collapsed just months after its nine-digit funding round, which we’ve included as a cautionary tale.
Read on, and browse our other 2022 recap articles here.
01 BandLab ($65m in April)
What started as a music-making app has steadily grown into one of the most interesting communities of grassroots musicians, with grand ambitions for further growth. Its $65m Series B round valued the company at $315m.
02 OpenSea ($300m in January)
There were a lot of music NFT startups raising money in 2022 – don’t worry, we’ll get to them later – but as one of the biggest marketplaces, OpenSea’s $300m round set a marker early in the year. Music has been one of its key categories.
03 Linktree ($110m in March)
Smart-links are big business nowadays, and Linktree’s $110m funding round this year valued the company at $1.3bn – one of them there unicorns! In recent times, the company has also struck a number of deals focusing on music links specifically.
04 SeatGeek ($238m in August)
Ticketing firm SeatGeek was planning to go public via a ‘SPAC’ but that didn’t work out, so the company turned back to traditional investors with a $238m Series E round. It valued the company at $1bn.
05 BeatBread ($34m in February)
Traditionally it was labels and publishers who offered musicians advances. BeatBread is one of the companies exploring alternatives, including helping distributors advance money to DIY musicians. It raised $34m in February, then followed it in November by securing a $100m ‘institutional funding agreement’ for its next swathe of artist deals.
06 Stationhead ($12m in July)
We’ve long been admirers of Stationhead, with its ambitious attempt to power a new network of user-generated radio broadcasters. After years of graft it raised a $12m funding round in July, with the likes of Diplo, 300’s Kevin Liles and Atlantic Records’ Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman chipping in.
07 LifeScore (£11m in March)
One of the funding trends of 2022 in music/tech was some proper dollars flowing into AI music startups. LifeScore is one of those, and its £11m round in March included a very interesting backer: major label Warner Music Group.
08 Endel ($15m in April)
Another example of an AI music startup raising a double-digit-millions round to push on. Endel’s $15m round fuelled its efforts to use AI for “functional audio” (think relaxing, sleeping, focusing) alongside partnerships with actual human artists to collaborate with its system.
09 Stem ($20m in April)
DIY artists – or at least companies focused on serving them – were another funding trend of 2022. Stem is well established as a distributor and music-payments technology firm, and its $20m round in April included Block as an investor. That’s Block, the fintech giant that also owns streaming service Tidal…
10 LimeWire ($10.4m)
A couple of decades ago, if you’d told us that in 2022 LimeWire would be making a comeback as a legal NFTs marketplace including a licensing deal with Universal Music Group, we’d have laughed in your face. Then asked what on earth an NFT was. But LimeWire’s latest reincarnation was backed by a $10.4m token sale this year, with investors including funds linked to deadmau5 and Steve Aoki.
11 Fanhouse ($20m in May)
Fanhouse has been helping artists to raise money through Patreon-style fan-funding for a while now. In 2022 it secured $20m of its own investment in a Series A round, hot on the heels of reaching $10m of payouts to its community of creators.
12 Encore ($9m in February)
Another encouraging music/tech startups trend is the growing number of businesses being founded by actual musicians. Kid Cudi was ahead of the crowd with Encore, which launched in 2020 as a livestreaming app. Its $9m seed funding round this year accompanied the official launch of its Studio App product.
13 SaveLive ($134.5m by February)
Marc Geiger used to be the music boss at talent agency WME, but in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, he launched a venture called SaveLive to take stakes in small venues and clubs across the US, in the hope of helping them to survive lockdowns. A regulatory filing this year revealed that SaveLive had raised $134.5m so far.
14 Triller ($310m* in October)
We’ve put an asterisk on this because rather than a traditional funding round, this was a “binding $310m investment” from a Luxembourg-based firm that Triller said it would be able to draw down on over the next three years. It was announced amid continuing speculation about Triller, royalties and licensing deals though.
15 HIFI ($10m+ in March)
One of a cluster of startups – see BeatBread for example – exploring music financial technology (fintech). HIFI raised a funding round in March that was reportedly “an eight-figure sum” from a range of music industry executives from the likes of Maverick, Red Light Management, Capitol and Splice.
16 Trebel ($25m in March)
Trebel isn’t a music-streaming service: it’s a bit more old-school, focusing on downloads. The app has been growing strongly in Latin America, and when it raised $25m in March at a $200m valuation, artist Maluma was among the investors.
17 Genies ($150m in April)
Genies is a startup focused on avatars with a web3 twist. It’s got a history of partnerships with the music industry including deals with UMG and WMG and investment from The Chainsmokers and A$AP Rocky. This year it raised $150m at a $1bn valuation, joining the unicorns club.
18 Melon ($5m in July)
No, not the long-established South Korean music streaming service. This Melon is a metaverse-focused creative agency, best known for working on Roblox performances from the likes of KSI, Zara Larsson and Tai Verdes. It’s one of the first Roblox-focused agencies to raise significant funding – a $5m seed round – to up its ambitions.
19 ElasticStage (£3.5m in August)
Vinyl sales are booming, but there’s a squeeze in getting slots from pressing plants, and ongoing questions about how climate-friendly the format is. British startup ElasticStage secured £3.5m of seed funding in August to tackle both of those challenges, with a technology that aims to cut lead times and energy usage alike.
20 Ready Player Me ($56m in August)
There was some big money being funnelled into metaverse startups this year, with Ready Player Me’s $56m round among the most prominent. It’s developing avatars that can be used across virtual worlds and games, but we include it here because there is evidence of interest in our industry: a partnership with music-metaverse startup Pixelynx.
21 Anything World ($7.5m in November)
We’ve been tracking Anything World for some time, with its work on a technology to make creating virtual worlds and populating them with items as easy as speaking. It’s seen music as a key industry from the start, and its $7.5m ‘Series Seed Plus’ round in November included Warner Music Group among the backers – building on its previous investment in the startup.
22 AmazeVR ($15m in January / $17m in September)
AmazeVR is the company behind Megan Thee Stallion’s virtual reality concert, which debuted in US cinemas this year before a VR headset release. It’s no slouch at raising money either: in January it announced a $15m round, then in September it confirmed another $17m as part of an ongoing Series B round.
23 Songfinch ($5m in April / $17m in September)
Songfinch is under the radar of many people in the music industry: its business is creating original, personalised songs for people’s birthdays, weddings and other occasions. It raised $5m of seed funding in April, followed by a $17m Series A round later in the year – saying at the time that the musicians who create its songs had collectively earned more than $12m in the last year alone.
24 Slip·stream ($7.5m in May)
One of a flurry of startups trying to make music licensing more affordable and easier for YouTubers and other online/social video creators. Having emerged in 2021, Slip·stream raised $7.5m of Series A funding in May, with Sony Music among the backers.
25 Uppbeat (£4.6m in February)
And here’s another example from that flurry: a service that launched as a spin-off from licensing company Music Vine with online video creators as its target customers. Uppbeat raised £4.6m of Series A funding this year, having signed up more than 500,000 users since its launch.
26 Volta ($3m in March)
Volta has some very clever technology to help artists create “extended reality” visuals for their livestreams and live IRL performances alike. Its $3m round in March included investment from Pixelynx, Major Lazer’s Jillionaire and Beatport CEO Robb McDaniels.
27 Doodles ($54m in September)
Another fledgling company in the NFTs space, Doodles’ collections (which we described as “Adventure Time, but more pastel”) had been a big hit already when it raised $54m in September. Why we’re interested: Doodles is working with Pharrell Williams and Columbia Records, with plans for music releases.
28 Medallion ($9m in May)
It’s time to dive right in to those web3 music startups raising money. Medallion has an interesting founder (former Songkick CEO Matt Jones) and plans to build a tool for artists to build communities around web3 technologies. Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (an early adopter of those techs) was among the backers in its $9m seed funding round.
29 Serenade (AU$6m in May)
May was a busy month for web3 music funding, with Australian startup Serenade – one of the companies working with artists to create NFT collections – picking up AU$6m. It planned to use the funding to expand globally, including opening a US office.
30 Highlight ($11m in May)
Another May investment, for a startup that wants to help artists sell NFTs and create communities of fans around them. Highlight’s seed funding round was notable for its size ($11m) and for another parade of artist and industry investors: Method Music, Three Six Zero’s Mark Gillespie and talent agency WME among them.
31 StemsDAO ($4m in October)
There’s a lot of hype around NFTs, but one of the areas Music Ally is drawn to is startups exploring music making through a web3 lens. StemsDAO is one of them: a community of artists creating musical stems to be sold as NFTs. A couple of artists chipped in to its $4m seed round: RAC and Boys Noize.
32 Arpeggi Labs ($5.1m in September)
Another startup experimenting with web3 and music creation. Arpeggi Labs is an online music-making studio tool, with a range of sounds and samples, and an emphasis on people then remixing them and publishing back to the community. Some more ubiquitous music/web3 names were among the investors in its $5.1m seed round: Steve Aoki, 3lau, Kygo and Wyclef Jean.
33 Hume ($11.7m in September)
Hume needed a lot more than a dollar, dollar, a dollar is a lot less than what it needed… and thus Aloe Blacc was one of the investors in its $11.7m Series A round, alongside fellow artist G Money. Hume is part of yet another music/tech trend: virtual artists. It’s creating ‘metastars’ but with a commitment to paying the human songwriters and producers behind them properly.
34 Stability AI ($10m in October)
Stability AI isn’t best known for music: it’s the company behind Stable Diffusion, one of the much-talked-about ‘text-to-image’ AI systems that help people create new images from just a text prompt. However, Stable Diffusion IS also interested in music: it’s behind an AI-music project called Harmonai which debuted its Dance Diffusion tool this year. Its $10m seed funding round will help to build that.
35 Yoom ($15m in October)
Yoom was the new name for a startup called Tetavi which focused on volumetric capture and immersive content. The former of which is an increasingly affordable technology used to turn human artists into virtual avatars. Yoom’s $15m funding came from investors including music veteran Jimmy Iovine, and artist/producer/Billie Eilish brother Finneas O’Connell.
36 Overtune ($2m in July)
We’ve always been interested in mobile apps that help people to create music in accessible, interesting ways. Overtune is the latest in that line: the Icelandic startup raised a $2m seed round in July to continue building its app, including backing from Guitar Hero’s creator, and former Sony Music exec Nick Gatfield.
37 Pollen ($150m in April)
Time for the cautionary tale! Pollen raised $150m for its service selling tickets and travel to music fans in April, but less than four months later the company slid into administration due to financial problems. The tale of exactly how and why this happened, when it’s eventually established, promises to be quite the read.
38 Epic Games ($2bn in April)
Let’s finish off with a plucky young startup called, er, Epic Games. Okay, a plucky gaming giant then, and Epic’s $2bn (!) funding round in April (from Lego and Sony) was largely about Fortnite, its Unreal Engine tool, and its Epic Games Store platform rather than music. But the company does have ambitions in music: it’s the owner of D2C firm Bandcamp; it has made Fortnite a key venue for virtual music performances; it worked with Radiohead on their virtual exhibition; and Unreal Engine is a tool for music companies, not just games developers.
While you’re here…
– Read about the winners (but also about all the finalists) in our Music Ally SI:X startups contest, which launched this year.
– January’s NY:LON Connect conference we co-run with Music Biz has sold out of in-person tickets, but virtual tickets are still available. Check the lineup here.
– The Knowledge is Music Ally’s free weekly newsletter, arriving in your inbox every Friday with news, analysis and marketing tips. Sign up for it here.
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