Tyler Lenane, Nashville-based punk rocker turned lawyer turned entrepreneur, has worked across the music industry as it transformed with the rise of streaming.
Having built a career on the legal and business development teams for Apple, Beats Music, and Napster, he recognized a flaw in how streaming services developed over the years. They were “really poor at speaking to what it means to be a music fan.”
Lenane teamed up with other veterans in the music industry to work on making music streaming more fan-friendly. “We knew people wanted more than just a search box or an algorithm making recommendations,” Lenane told Hypepotamus. “We saw this opportunity to reach the fans who wanted more and also serve fans of music genres that sat outside mainstream pop and hip hop.”
The result was Gimme Radio, an interactive audio and video experience that connects fans with artists. The goal, Lenane said, is to “build communities on a genre-by-genre basis.” Artists are able to create their own content and programming. Fans can interact both with artists and with other fans in real-time.
Gimme Radio currently supports Country and Metal, which Lenane said are two genres that attract a passionate fanbase. “People that are metalheads, they’re metalheads for life…but they were being ignored almost everywhere else in [the streaming world],” he said. “And while country seems to be on the opposite side of the [music spectrum], we were able to show some of the same fan behaviors.”
While Gimme was founded in 2017, the platform became an increasingly important tool for artists and fans alike during COVID. Without concerts and festivals to attend, Gimme gave artists an important line to “interact and transact” directly with fans. The platform has rolled out virtual tipping, e-commerce options, and vinyl subscriptions as a way for fans to support artists.
Over 1,200 artists have hosted programming on Gimme Radio to date, and Lenane said that number is growing weekly. That gave meaningful income to artists who often aren’t making enough money on the standard streaming services.
Some of the artists currently on the platform include Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Randy Blythe of Lamb of God, Jesse Dayton, Chuck Prophet, and Laura Cantrell.
For Lenane, Gimme Radio is trying to build something that cuts through the “live stream bandwagon” and the fatigue that followed. “Music is not just a solitary experience where you put in white earbuds and tune the world out. There’s another part of music that’s really communal. And that is at the core of what we’re doing.”
Now the larger music and radio industry has taken notice.
Gimme Radio closed a $3 million funding round led by iHeartMedia. Existing investors The Orchard, Concord, Metal Blade Records, Riser House Entertainment, and Quartz Hill Records also participated in the round.
“We needed the right strategic partner with access to more music lovers,” Lenane said when asked about the funding round. The focus after this round will be on bringing new people onto the platform.
He added that Gimme’s long-term vision is to be “the global destination for fan communities across all genres.”