Talenthouse is a company that’s been helping young creatives find high-profile work in the music and fashion industries since 2009, when it was founded by Amos Pizzey, a UK ad agency veteran and early member of Culture Club, and tech entrepreneur Roman Scharf. But soon, the company will be finding new work of its own thanks to a Series C funding round, led by ProSieben, that saw the company raise $10 million from a list of investors that includes Dave Stewart, the Eurythmic-turned-founder of the UK’s First Artist Bank, and actor Gerard Butler.
In the past five years, the company has hosted talent searches, often funded by brands, offering paid work to contribute to projects with A-list talent like Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Eric Clapton, Tom Ford, Stan Lee, deadmau5, Paul McCartney, Linkin Park, U2 and many others. In 2011, for example, the company teamed with Warner Bros. Records and Microsoft’s Bing for Theophilus London’s remix album, believed to be the first major-label release to be fully sponsored by a brand.
Speaking to Billboard from a guestroom in Butler’s home in Australia, Pizzey says the company will soon be expanding into new countries like Germany, India and China, new sectors like film development production as well as developing a mobile platform to better reach the creative community and enhance the submission process for future campaigns. “We’re creating collaborations where a young man can create a superhero for Stan Lee, design glasses for Adidas, a T-Shirt design for Linkin Park and collaborate on amazing concept with Avicii,” says Pizzey. “The real goal would be to develop the technology into a more sophisticated user experience.”
Stewart sees particular potential in opening up the Talenthouse community to work his production company Weapons of Mass Entertainment, which has a musical in development with director Jonas Akerlund among other projects. “We could bring in Talenthouse to say, ‘Hey, who wants to design the poster for this film, or whatever the opportunity may be,’” Stewart tells Billboard. “There’s a whole new landscape arriving and I think Talenthouse is right in the center, if not the forefront, of actually connecting creatives with real brands.”
For its latest campaign, announced on Tuesday (May 20), Talenthouse is teaming with Sony’s mobile brand Xperia for the chance to score a digital single deal with Sony Music UK, complete with professional studio sessions and two officially produced and distributed music videos. Judges for the contest include Epic Records’ Steven Melrose, Syco Music’s Genevieve Ampaduh, Columbia Records UK’s Sam Potts, Epic Records UK’s Chris Dempsey and Sony Music’s Holly Marshall. “Working alongside Talenthouse has meant we’ve been able to discover a high caliber of worldwide creative, in this case music talent,” says David Chapon, head of consumer engagement at Sony Mobile.
For Pizzey, the future of Talenthouse is looking not unlike the one he envisioned in his teens as an early member of Culture Club. “The reason I found any success wasn’t my own talent, I had huge help from George and being in the right place at the right time when the music exploded. I saw so much talent in the projects of my extended family that was better than me but had no way of expressing itself. When I saw Myspace in 2006, I saw a rave, I didn’t understand algorithms or codes. So with Talenthouse, I want to give people who felt displaced a place to belong.”