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The Deals: WMG Collects Web3 Company POAP; Stem & BandLab Raise New Funding

Also this week: John Legend-founded blockchain firm Our Happy Company raises seed round, Warner Music China signs "Mandopop" icon CoCo Lee and more.

Warner Music Group partnered with Web3 protocol POAP Inc. Short for “Proof of Attendance Protocol,” POAPs are digital mementos minted as NFTs that allow collectors to receive authenticated digital proof that they attended a specific event. Owning a POAP can grant collectors access to future rewards from the issuer, including airdrops, raffles, private chat rooms and exclusive content. Atlantic Records’ Oliver Tree was the first WMG artist to use the technology, offering a POAP to fans who attended a pop-up event celebrating the launch of his album Cowboy Tears. Atlantic rapper Kevin Gates also recently incorporated POAPs into his Khaza Tour, making one available to fans who attended his show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on April 16.


Music distribution and payments platform Stem raised $20 million in a new round of funding led by QED Investors, with participation from Block, Inc. as well as previous investors Slow Ventures and Quality Control. The investment will help fund the next phase of Stem’s growth, as it continues launching and improving tools that allow indie artists and labels to track their revenues, access capital, manage splits with collaborators and automate payments.

Singapore-based social music platform BandLab closed a Series B funding round for $65 million with a post-money valuation of $315 million. The round was led by Vulcan Capital, with participation from Caldecott Music Group, K3 Ventures and new investor Prosus Ventures. The funds will be used to expand BandLab’s team and grow its offerings to music creators and aspiring artists globally.

Our Happy Company, the blockchain company founded by John Legend, Chris Lin and Kevin Lin, raised $7.5 million in a seed round led by Infinity Ventures Crypto and Animoca Brands, with participation from Cherubic Ventures, Circle Ventures, FBG Capital, Highstreet, HTC, Jump Trading and North Island Ventures. The funding will be used to continue growing and developing the company’s social NFT platform, OurSong.

Warner Music China signed Chinese “Mandopop” icon CoCo Lee. Warner will work with Lee on a wide array of opportunities, including new music, live entertainment, TV and streaming programs and brand deals. New music from the singer is expected by the summer.

Warner Music Asia signed singer-songwriter Valentina Ploy, thereby forming a strategic alliance with her Thailand-based record label What the Duck. Under the deal, Warner Music will leverage the support of Warner Music Thailand to strengthen Ploy’s domestic fanbase while using WMG’s regional network to introduce her to listeners throughout Asia and beyond. Ploy will release the single “Bla Bli Blu” as her first official release with Warner Music on Thursday (April 28).

Leading African streaming service Boomplay partnered with music creation platform Splice to introduce “Beyond Afrobeats,” a new series of sample packs and collections from artists who are pushing Afrobeats and other genres forward. The series will include a “Beat Battle” hosted by producer Sarz, allowing new music creators/contestants to showcase their work and gain access to promotional resources including in-app visual ads, playlisting and more on the Boomplay and Splice platforms. More information can be found here.

Concord Originals, Concord’s narrative content creation division, partnered with Outfest Fusion to launch a short film financing and intellectual property licensing initiative to support LGBTQIA+ filmmakers of color. In addition to providing financing of up to $25,000 per short film, Concord Originals will facilitate the inclusion of one of three iconic songs on Concord’s roster into the finished shorts: “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester (and co-written by James Wirrick), “Tres Días De Carnaval” by Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel. During Outfest Los Angeles in July 2022, eligible filmmakers can pitch their original short films, with winners to be announced at the festival’s conclusion and finished films to be showcased at Outfest Fusion in 2023. Eligible filmmakers can find more information on the contest here. The submission deadline is June 15.

The AI-powered music creation platform Soundful raised $3.8 million in a seed round from a myriad of investors, including leaders from Microsoft, The Walt Disney Company, Universal Music Group, Accenture, Beatport and Squeak E Clean Studios. Currently invite-only, the platform allows creators to generate fully-licensed tracks and stems that can be used as-is or tweaked for a more customized sound. Users can also create new tracks from scratch using a variety of templates and genres.

Nettwerk Records signed three new artists: singer-songwriter Caleb Hearn; lo-fi producer, musician and vocalist Skinny Atlas; and Nashville-via-U.K. singer-songwriter-producer Dave Thomas Junior. Nettwerk will release Hearn’s new single “Where Do We Go From Here?” on Friday (April 29). The label released Skinny Atlas’ “Upside Down in the Backseat” feat. Jomie on April 22 and Thomas Junior’s cover of Bastille’s “Pompeii” on April 18.

Generative music NFT platform SoundMint raised a $1.7 million seed round led by Animoca Brands, with participation by Castle Island Ventures, Focus Labs, Sfermion, Sky Vision, Tess Ventures and Goodwater Capital. The raise follows a $30 million appraisal for SoundMint, which specializes in NFTs that pair music creators with visual artists. The platform’s next NFT drop, Back In Time, features a collaboration between music creator Kaien Cruz and visual artist SomeHoodlum.

AWAL signed a recordings deal with Los Angeles-based singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Laufey as she preps the release of her debut album. Under the deal, Laufey will enjoy a full range of services, including marketing, creative, A&R, radio, synch licensing, brand partnerships and worldwide distribution. Her latest single is “Everything I Know About Love,” while her album is slated for release this summer.

Jack Cullen signed with Glassnote Records. Earlier this month, Cullen released his first solo single, “It Doesn’t Matter” feat. Snøw, which also features Questlove on drums. The track was produced by The Roots.