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Trac Raises $2.5 Million To Help Artists Monetize Their Music and Merch – dot.LA

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Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
Music tech startup Trac, which helps independent artists distribute songs, merchandise and NFTs, has raised $2.5 million in pre-seed funding led by Nigerian investment firm Zrosk.
Launched in 2020 by founder Cardin Campbell, a former marketing tech executive at Peloton and Expedia, Trac pitches itself as a one-stop shop for musicians to monetize and manage their careers. The Santa Monica-based company allows artists to upload songs and get them distributed on major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. It also lets artists design and sell merchandise like shirts, hats and hoodies through websites that the platform builds for them.
While Trac offers its music distribution services for free, it offers premium features like quicker payouts of streaming revenues through subscriptions starting at $60 annually, according to its website. The company also collects a 3% transaction fee on earnings paid out to artists. Roughly 200,000 artists have used the platform to date, a Trac spokesperson said.

Trac founder and CEO Cardin Campbell.
Courtesy of Trac
Campbell told dot.LA that he envisions Trac becoming something like an Amazon Web Services for artists—a single platform for both emerging musicians and superstars to run their operations. Currently, most of Trac’s customers are up-and-comers who don’t have a record label behind them—and aren’t in a rush for one either, according to Campbell.
“[Trac’s artists] want to remain independent,” Campbell said. “So our product is literally helping them with that and making sure that they can retain all the rights that they possibly can, and monetize their name and likeness and the music with their fans really easily.”
Joining Lagos-based Zrosk in the pre-seed round were AppWorks, InfinityVC, Calm Company Fund and Dapper Labs, as well as angel investors like Roham Gharegozlou and Siqi Chen.

Trac—which currently has 45 employees but less than 10 full-timers—plans to use the funds to grow its engineering and operations teams. Like seemingly everyone else in the music industry these days, the startup plans to enter the world of crypto in the coming weeks and begin minting non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, for its artists, Campbell said. Trac also wants to create decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) for artists, who could then sell their own crypto tokens to raise capital and give fans a share of their future revenues.

“You’re literally investing in that artist’s future and helping to get them to that next level,” Campbell said of Trac’s DAO designs. “It’s flipping the industry on its head.”
Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
By all accounts, these are heady times for health-tech startups. In 2020, as the pandemic raged, a record $28.5 billion of venture capital poured into the U.S. biotech startup scene, according to Pitchbook data. New dollars inflated valuations for telehealth services, concierge medical practices and a slew of other startups designed to save doctors, hospitals and patients time and money.
But not everybody reaped the benefits. A survey of nearly 700 health startup leaders conducted by Rock Health in 2020 found that support for Black founders was largely inadequate. Black founders were more likely than white or Asian founders to bootstrap their companies, while most were based in the South or the Midwest—far from the funding hotbeds of the Northeast and West Coast.

These inequities formed the genesis for Jumpstart Nova, which bills itself as the first venture fund investing exclusively in Black-founded and Black-led health companies. The fund—a spinoff from Nashville-based venture capital firm Jumpstart Health Investors—announced Wednesday that it has raised $55 million from health care investors including Eli Lilly and Company, Cardinal Health and Atrium Health, oversubscribing its initial $30 million target.
Jumpstart Nova partner Kathryne Cooper
Though Jumpstart is based in Tennessee, the Nova fund will have roots in Los Angeles, as well. Jumpstart Nova partner and native Angeleno Kathryne Cooper is based in L.A., and is working alongside Jumpstart co-founder Marcus Whitney to lead deals and manage the portfolio. Cooper brings an experienced background in the worlds of health care technology and startup investing. She previously managed an FDA-backed seed fund for the West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics, and has served as an advisor to Backstage Capital, an L.A.-based venture fund for minority-led startups, as well as the city of Los Angeles’ Women in STEM (WiSTEM) initiative.
“[Black people] have been overlooked traditionally for investments from the venture space, and I believe that talent is equally distributed and anyone can build within health care,” Cooper told dot.LA. “So I think it was a unique market opportunity to create a fund that invests exclusively in Black founders.”

According to Jumpstart, of the nearly 785,000 companies in the U.S. health care sector today, only around 35,000—or less than 5%—are Black-owned. The venture fund is hoping to eliminate certain processes baked into the venture capital world that it believes make it harder for minority founders to access funding. For instance, instead of relying on in-person meetings that require founders to fly out to L.A. or Nashville, it is soliciting founders from all over the U.S.—an attempt to rectify some of the geographical inequities that leave many Black founders at a disadvantage.
“I think protocols like that are helpful because some of these methodologies have chronically underserved certain types of founders,” Cooper said. “And we don’t make the same mistake, even though we’re investing in Black founders.”
Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.
Tel Aviv-based Electreon specializes in wireless induction charging, similar to the technology that allows you to charge your cell phone on a wireless mat or dock without plugging it in. By embedding a system of coiled wires into the pavement, Electreon plans to turn the road itself into a charging station for vehicles—one that can be used even while cars are moving.
Founded in 2013, the company has already proven its technology can work via pilot programs in Sweden, Germany and Italy—as well as its homeland of Israel, where it’s a publicly traded company on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. But on Tuesday, Electreon announced a partnership with Michigan public authorities, as well as private stakeholders like Ford Motor Company, to install a one-mile-long stretch of electrified road in Detroit—the first time such a system would be used in public roads in the U.S. The system is expected to be operational by next year.
Electreon, which opened its U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles last month, is initially targeting fleet vehicles like taxis, buses and drayage trucks for its technology, but plans to eventually expand into the consumer EV market as well. Electric road systems would be especially attractive to fleet vehicles for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that they stop frequently. Time spent idling, especially in predictable locations, means it’s easier to know where to install electrified roads and make them cost-effective.
Stefan Tongur, Electreon’s L.A.-based vice president of business development, says the company’s induction charging technology will probably charge slower than the traditional plug-in station model. But if the pavement under every bus station was electrified, he told dot.LA, a small amount of charge would be added to the vehicle at every stop—meaning the bus would need to take fewer, if any, breaks to recharge its battery.
Image courtesy of Electreon
It’s easy to imagine similar use cases at ports, rail yards or airport taxi lanes, all of which could spell significant savings for companies that lose time and money when their electric fleet vehicles are plugged in and recharging. Many of these areas also fall under the purview of the private sector, which would make uptake and implementation easier, according to Tongur. He said Electreon is already eyeing a move into such spaces.
Electreon aims to have its wireless charging technology installed on public roads around the U.S. within “a couple of years,” Tongur added. While Detroit will host the pilot program, Los Angeles and New York will be the next targets.
“L.A. is obvious, right? It’s the Mecca of EVs,” he said. “You have air quality issues here; you have the port of L.A. and Long Beach; you have so much traffic. Moving to electrification is, I would say, a must.”
The goal of installing wireless charging for moving vehicles is “very courageous,” said Mehrdad Kazerani, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Kazerani noted that researchers at the university had developed a similar concept for the sprawling Trans-Canada Highway. “Of course, we did not pursue this idea, but it seems Electreon has made good progress along this line,” he said.
Kazerani added that wireless charging technology may also allow the EVs of the future to use considerably smaller batteries, which would make the cars lighter, more energy-efficient and less expensive. Smaller batteries would also mean less mining for battery materials and less waste when a battery reaches the end of its life.
“This is kind of an invitation to the U.S. market: to policymakers, state agencies, fleet owners and original equipment manufacturers,” Tongur said. “This is an opportunity to do things together—join us on this path and journey.”
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