Marcus Cobb is a lifetime entrepreneur who, through a fashion company, landed in the music industry world and quickly became familiar with its unique challenges. He first set out to create a company to help labels find talent, but quickly realized there was an even more pressing problem that no one had tackled: making sure talent actually gets paid.
Through customer discovery and research, Cobb determined that 30-50 percent of music artists don’t see the full payment — or possibly any money at all — they deserve for their work. Much of this is because of outdated and clunky processes on the production side — complicated paperwork, compliance regulations, and poor communication. He founded Jammber as a tech-enabled tool to manage this payment process.
“Above all, Jammber is on a mission to give accurate credit where it’s due: to the creative individuals on which the music industry is built,” says Cobb.
After going through the Nashville-based Project Music accelerator, Jammber is rocking: with two offices in Chicago and Tennessee, they are soon to close on a $1.2 million seed round and have been chosen as one of five music tech startups to participate in this year’s hip hop-focused A3C Conference Music Tech Startup Spotlight.
Cobb says hip hop startups are the ideal target demographic for Jammber’s platform.
“Hip-hop in particular is a very fluid creative process,” says Cobb. “Our mobile app is a designed to understand that, while still helping to facilitate discussions like percentage of ownership on a song or tracking everyone involved so you can properly license or release it. These tools can change peoples lives.”
Along with Jammber, Music Tech Day will see RecordGram (Miami, FL), TheUpNext (Chicago, IL) BrandSnap (London, UK), and RapChat (Columbus, OH) present in its inaugural Startup Spotlight. Check out the full lineup here.
What’s your elevator pitch?
Jammber is a platform that manages the entire music production process, keeping track of everyone involved, making sure the work flows, letting collaborators sign off on important steps digitally, and helping labels and artists file forms correctly in minutes, not months.
What problem are you solving in the music industry?
Creative teams across music, entertainment, books, video games and other industries are heavily burdened by legacy paperwork and compliance requirements unfit for the digital age. Highly paper-driven processes, disconnected work silos and multi-channel communications delay revenues and income for parties of all sizes. Creative organizations experience missing revenue or significant delays while creatives wait for months or years for standard paychecks.
Jammber reduces operational overhead, shortens project life cycles and improves data accuracy. Jammber’s web and mobile tools are designed with creatives in mind to replace legacy paper-driven processes and error-prone spreadsheets.
How did you get this idea?
I’m somewhat of a “lifer” when it comes to entrepreneurship. After years of trial and error I eventually sold a small enterprise software company and in a bit of an about-face temporarily left technology to start a fashion company, much to the dismay and panic of my techie friends. Through a series of breaks I had the privilege of designing for a music video featuring Pitbull, a top Cuban-American artist. It thrusted our fashion brand into the music scene.
One day when I was working with a music label to put together a new female pop band I became incredibly frustrated by how hard it was to find talent! The only talent marketplace was Craigslist and it was far from ideal. The idea for Jammber was born out of this frustration.
Through a few iterations and tons of customer research we realized payments were an even bigger problem in the music industry. We knew we had to solve that problem first and that is where Jammber is focused today. Data drives revenue in the industry and as an industry we need to a better job of managing it.
How have you been funded thus far? Will you seek additional funding?
I bootstrapped Jammber with a $350K investment. Since then Jammber has raised an additional $1.6 million: a $415K pre-seed round and currently is in the final stages of actively raising a $1.2M seed round that we will be closing shortly.
You participated in the Project Music accelerator in Nashville — talk a little bit about that experience and how it impacted the company?
Project Music was life-changing for us. Project Music allowed us unprecedented access to the inner workings of the entire music industry. From labels to publishers, artists, managers, producers, unions: this program pulled back the veil of the industry and we saw how the money moves. When we saw that 30-50 percent of people don’t get credit for their work, don’t get paid at all, or get paid years later we had to do something — and Jammber is our answer to that.
What’s coming up next for Jammber? What are you excited about in the next year?
The tools are finally getting to a place where anyone can use them. We’re also very excited about our Data Agreement to track Songwriter Contributors with Nielsen worldwide. The song creation data Jammber captures at the studio level will help power new charts, improving discovery on streaming platforms.