Santa Monica-based music licensing and rights marketplace Songtradr Inc. has raised $30 million in Series C funding.
The investment was driven by several Australian family offices and undisclosed existing investors. It follows on a $12 million Series B raise last year and brings the company’s current valuation to $165 million.
Songtradr’s platform allows independent artists to upload their music for distribution on streaming platforms such Spotify and Apple Inc.’s Apple Music and to license their music to individual buyers. The latter can include anything from commercial producers to independent filmmakers and YouTubers.
Music licensing and distribution is a crowded marketplace. Songtradr says it stands out from the competition by providing full-scope, streamlined services for both the supply and demand sides of the market.
“We have competitors that we compete with for the licensing transaction dollar, and we have competitors that we compete with for distribution,” said Songtradr founder and Chief Executive Paul Wiltshire, “but we’re one of the only ones that do both.”
Wiltshire said his company benefits from this full-scope service, not just through a broader client base, but through information. “The true value we get out of that is the data,” he said. “We can use that to help better match our music to our music buyer.”
As part of its distribution agreements with streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, Songtradr gets information on the geography and demographics of its music’s listeners, according to Wiltshire.
This helps the company provide informed recommendations to music-buyers looking to target a specific audience.
Songtradr has benefited from the growth in digital media consumption under Covid-19 lockdowns. With live events shut down, many artists have been desperate to find new ways to monetize their craft.
Digital channels, which have seen large boosts in consumer usage under the lockdowns, quickly emerged as one of the only viable ways for many artists to supplement their lost income.
According to Wiltshire, artist activity on the platform has tripled since the start of the pandemic.
“There is an elevated consciousness around making sure your music is available to be discovered in the licensing world,” he said. “The earnings can be from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars. … We’ve seen a big increase in thinking about other revenue streams for artists to collect on.”
Savvy advertising has also played a role in Songtradr’s success under Covid-19, according to Century City-based music and intellectual property lawyer, Kia Kamran.
“They’ve done a lot of really good marketing during the pandemic,” Kamran said, “encouraging artists to upload music to their platform for free, so it can get distributed to the music platforms like Spotify.”
Kamran said that, while many businesses offer similar services to Songtradr, the company had been able to pull ahead of some rivals in recent years largely by providing seamless and “competent” services.
“Generally, when you offer any sort of a service, and you do it more efficiently and better, you become the frontrunner,” he said.
In addition to its core music licensing business, Songtradr also offers rights administration services. Many of these are focused on maximizing payments to the artist by chasing down unauthorized uses, such as on YouTube.
The company is looking to grow that business line, according to Wiltshire, and will use part of the new funding to build additional rights management products this year. Wiltshire said recently hired Vice President of Rights Management Virginie Berger will be central to those efforts.
Songtradr’s new funding will also be used to embark on an acquisition campaign. About two-thirds of the Series C raise is earmarked for buying up other companies, Wiltshire said — especially those that will help Songtradr expand geographically. The company plans to build on its gains in Europe by pushing growth in the Asia Pacific and Latin American markets, according to Wiltshire.
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