The Deals: LL COOL J’s Rock the Bells Raises $15M; ICM Crescendo Acquires Anuel AA Royalty Income
Also this week: Snapchat reaches new music licensing deals, Young Miko's label signs a distribution pact with Capitol Music Group and more.
LL COOL J‘s Rock the Bells hip-hop platform announced a $15 million Series B raise led by Raine Ventures, Irving Azoff of Iconic Artists Group and Paramount Global, with participation from Amex Ventures, Wildcat Capital Management and Capstar Ventures. Additional investment came from ASK Capital, North Island, AME Cloud Ventures and XO Capital. The funds will be used to scale the business by creating more long-form content projects, launching new retail projects, expanding to the European Union, growing the annual Rock the Bells Festival and launching new experiential events. Under the deal, Rock the Bells and Paramount Global have signed a multiyear first-look deal covering feature films and scripted and unscripted content, as well as the opportunity to live-stream the 2023 Rock the Bells Festival. Additionally, they will partner on developing co-branded merchandise opportunities. Paramount Global will also provide marketing support for Rock the Bells content, experiences and activations.
ICM Crescendo Music Royalty Fund acquired the master royalty income of a catalog of songs owned by High Society Management, including several by Latin star Anuel AA such as “Sola (Remix),” “Soldado Y Profeta (Remix)” and “Nacimos Pa Morir” featuring Jory Boy.
Snapchat struck new music licensing deals with UnitedMasters, BUMA/STEMRA, SUISA Digital Licensing AG — which includes the repertoire of SUISA (Switzerland), AKKA/LAA (Latvia), Albautor (Albania), Armauthor (Armenia), Autodia (Greece), COMP (Pakistan), EAÜ (Estonia), GCA (Georgia), LATGA (Lithuania), SOZA (Slovakia), Abramus Digital (Brazil), Soundreef (Italy) — and multiple direct-licensing publishers for its Snapchat Sounds library.
Independent Latin music label The Wave Music Group — founded in 2021 by Angelo Torres and Caleb Calloway — signed a long-term distribution agreement with Capitol Music Group (CMG). The first music to be released under the deal comes from Puerto Rican rapper and songwriter Young Miko, who dropped the first single under the agreement, “Lisa,” in March. CMG will provide The Wave Music Group with a number of services in support of its releases, supplementing the label’s in-house functions.
Reactional Music — which has developed a rules-based music engine that allows any music to be brought into a video game and interact in real time with the game’s visuals, sound and more — closed a pre-Series A funding round led by mobile music games publisher Amanotes and early-stage VC fund Butterfly Ventures. The round was also supported by several angel investors, including former Mediatonic chairman, Red Octane CEO and Take 2 Interactive CEO Kelly Sumner. The funds will be used to deliver the Reactional beta platform and SDK for developers, continue its music licensing operations and scale the Reactional team. Reactional is currently at work on several pilot projects, while the Reactional engine is now being used in a commercially-available game for the Playstation 5 and Playstation VR2; it has also struck multiple music rights agreements, including with Hipgnosis Song Management. The platform is expected to go live this year.
PRS for Music announced a partnership with music rights and metadata management software platform Orfium to expand PRS’ licensing coverage to music users in Africa. Under the deal, Orfium will license the PRS repertoire and provide the underlying technology infrastructure to serve African markets. Coverage provided by Orfium will extend to public performances, radio, cable TV and local and select multinational online services. The deal will also expand the global reach of PRS’ Major Live Concert Service, a leading royalty collection service for large concerts, making it available for events held throughout Africa. The Orfium partnership will function alongside PRS’ existing agreement with South Africa collecting society SAMRO for its home territories.
SoundExchange announced a new data partnership with music metadata provider Music Story to improve SoundExchange’s creator metadata. The deal is designed to minimize the need for manual claiming and help ensure accuracy in monthly royalty payments. Music Story partner Muso.AI, a verified music credit platform, captures credits, correctly links music creators to their work and spots inconsistencies that impact their rights.
Live events company LiveCo struck a partnership with Park City, Utah-based boutique producing and presenting firm MagicSpace Entertainment to bring the company under the LiveCo umbrella. MagicSpace has launched tours including Simone Biles in the Gold Over America Tour, Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, A Magical Cirque Christmas and Alton Brown Live. LiveCo, which launched at the top of 2023, also boasts partnerships with Icon Concerts, Premier Productions, BASE Entertainment, Rush Concerts, Peachtree Entertainment and Transparent Productions; it also represents talent and productions including Jimmy O. Yang, Criss Angel, Cocomelon Live, Cody Johnson, Jo Koy, Dude Perfect, Zach Bryan, MercyMe, Elevation Worship and Gabriel Iglesias.
Enote, an app that provides a library of interactive sheet music to classical musicians, closed a 10 million euro ($10.97 million) pre-Series A funding round led by Dieter von Holzbrink Ventures (DvH Ventures), the EU’s European Innovation Council (EIC Fund) and the Rudolf Fuchs Family Office. The funds will go toward initiatives that introduce innovations to the app, empower educators and provide more musicians with the opportunity to access the Enote library. There remains an opportunity for angel investors, venture capital funds and family offices to participate in a second closing of the round, which the EIC fund has committed to matching euro for euro.
Web3 company OneOf acquired enterprise rewards and loyalty software company TAP Network, which has developed customized rewards and loyalty solutions for clients including Warner Music Group, Brave and Uber. The acquisition allows for the integration of TAP Network’s loyalty software IP with OneOf’s mass-consumer Web3 technology framework. The resulting Web3-powered tech stack, dubbed OnePlatform, will provide white-labeled turnkey loyalty, commerce and data solutions for enterprise clients in entertainment, media, finance, retail, travel, consumer packaged goods, telecom and more.
SoundCloud and Feature.fm formed a strategic partnership to provide exclusive resources and benefits related to Feature.fm’s marketing tools — including smartlinks and pre-saves — for SoundCloud artists. The benefits, which will become available next month, will include perks and discounts from Feature.fm and provide SoundCloud’s “Next Pro” tier of artists with a free plan and free ad credits, while providing artists in its “Next” tier with discounted pricing. As part of the deal, Feature.fm will introduce a new entry-level pricing plan that will be made available to all SoundCloud artists for the first 90 days.
Turntable LIVE acquired fellow music-centered social platform JQBX. The JQBX brand, domain and community will continue with special features at www.JQBX.fm. The acquisition follows the announcement of Turntable LIVE’s $7 million seed round.
Revelator, which provides digital IP infrastructure to music companies including royalty accounting, distribution and analysis, announced an expansion to Japan under a new partnership with Japanese music tech agency PRTL. Under the deal, Revelator will leverage PRTL head Taishi Fukuyama‘s “expertise to bring its innovative Web2 and Web3 solutions to a market that is experiencing rapid streaming growth and is wildly enthusiastic about NFTs,” according to a press release.
EVEN, a blockchain-enabled platform that allows artists to sell their music directly to fans in exchange for exclusive perks before uploading the music to streaming platforms, announced a $2.2 million funding round led by CSA Partners with participation from gener8tor, VC414, gAngels, Daniel Rotman, Adie Akuffo-Afful, Donte Murry and Ogo.