Rock the Bells Raises $15M

Rock the Bells Raises $15M
A Rock the Bells festival.

Nearly 40 years ago, rapper and actor LL Cool J released the hit single “Rock The Bells.” The song’s title would later evolve into the name of a global lifestyle and culture media company. 

Founded in 2018 by LL Cool J, West Hollywood-based Rock The Bells calls its platform a place to connect hip hop and rap fans and elevate the music’s culture. The company raised $15 million in a series B funding round in April led by Paramount Global, Raine Ventures and investor Irving Azoff.

“It started off as a song … and then we leveraged that name because of all the equity and the cultural meaning behind (the title) to launch this platform we have today that has content, commerce and experience, all to honor and uplift the culture,” Rock The Bells president James Cuthbert said.

Cuthbert was previously the senior vice president of brand marketing and strategy Paramount-owned Black Entertainment Television and held leadership roles at Red Bull and Coca-Cola Company. 

As a lifelong fan of hip hop music who grew up listening to artists like De La Sol and LL Cool J himself, Cuthbert was inspired to join Rock The Bells’ team to address what he saw as a missing opportunity to elevate classic hip hop culture and connect fans with content and experiences.

“Nobody is focusing on elevating hip hop culture, especially classic hip hop culture,” Cuthbert said. “There’s a lot of things focusing on what’s new and next, but nobody believes in the value that this culture has, and what has already been created … I think when presented the right way, not only can the people who grew up with it appreciate it, but the next generation can be inspired by it and we can connect those generations.”

Rock The Bells hosts an annual music festival, first launched in 2022. It takes place this August in New York and will celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop with a lineup featuring trailblazing artists like Queen Latifah, De La Sol, Slick Rick and Salt-N-Pepa. Rock the Bells is also hosting a cruise in November aboard the Norwegian Pearl from Miami to the Bahamas, which will be an immersive experience including live performances, MC and DJ battles and master classes. The cruise has already sold out.

The company’s commerce division includes merchandise and partnerships with Target Corp. and Walmart Inc., among others. On the entertainment front, it has a Rock The Bells radio station with Sirius XM Holdings Inc. and produces podcast and video content online. With this new investment, which brings funding to date to $23 million, Cuthbert said that with the new investment, it has brought on Rob Williams, former senior vice president of Burbank-based JuVee Productions, to grow its content division.

“We’re going to be leveraging the funding to do more of what we’re doing and on a larger scale,” Cuthbert said. “We have a first-look deal with Paramount on longform content … we’re also going to be leveraging that to blow out our brand partnership business. We’ve continued to grow that business and there’s a ton of brands out there who are looking for authentic ways to connect with their fans and with the purchasers of their products.”

No posts to display