Jammber, a workflow management startup specifically for musicians, has joined the list of non-Silicon Valley startups backed by AOL co-founder Steve Case’s Revolution and its Rise of the Rest (ROTR) seed fund. The VC firm is leading the startup’s $2.2 million funding round, which will also include additional strategic angel investors.
Jammber’s founder and CEO Marcus Cobb says that the funding will go toward the launch of their new suite of music creation, collaboration, and workflow management apps, all of which will be free for creators and which roll into their larger music management system.
“It’s not a huge investment, by design, but it’s highly strategic for us,” Cobb tells Hypepotamus about the partnership with ROTR.
After a successful career in software and product management, Cobb founded Jammber in 2013 when he learned that up to 50 percent of musicians don’t ever see full payment for their work, simply because of tracking, communications, or compliance issues.
“Hip-hop, for example, is the highest-grossing music genre globally, but also the most underpaid,” says Cobb. “That’s just heartbreaking.”
The startup has thus created an entire suite of tools, which Cobb likens to an equivalent of the Google suite, to digitize the entire music creation process.
Jammber’s new app Splits allows songwriters to collaborate (in English, Spanish, or French), while still receiving credit for their work. The Muse app provides a space to share and securely store voice memos and lyrics.
Both of these apps feed into Bridge, a workflow management platform that handles everything from managing contacts to assigning projects, to copyright compliance and a payment portal for sending and accepting money.
While Splits and Muse are free as standalone apps, subscriptions for Bridge range from the $25 monthly “Lite” plan to a $75 monthly “Professional” plan, to custom quotes for enterprises, which Cobb indicates they will be working with more and more.
Cobb says they have more than 600 customers at this time, with over 37,000 individual users across those accounts.
Beyond user acquisition, the free apps will allow Jammber to collect valuable user data about an industry where data has often been in short supply. That data can be monetized in a number of ways, which Cobb hints at by sharing a partnership with Nielsen Music, the industry-specific arm of the ratings data giant.
“It’s counterintuitive,” says Cobb about offering many of Jammber’s tools for free. “I’ve been in software all my life, and now we’re breaking all the rules.”
The startup is headquartered jointly in Nashville and Chicago and has grown to employ about 25. They have raised $5.5 million in funding to-date, with most of that coming from angel investors connected in the music industry — former chairman of Sony Music Nashville Joe Galante and Vector Management founder Ken Levitan among them.
Cobb is now looking toward the full launch of both Splits and Muse, as well as an expansion of strategic partnerships and, eventually, a Series A raise targeted for 2020.
But he also has a higher purpose on his mind when it comes to the fragmentation of the music business at large.
“There’s this perception that creatives are bad at numbers or bad at business… but it’s really a design issue,” Cobb says. “Give a creative an Excel spreadsheet and his eyes will glaze.”
“But I want to give them something beautiful, to use technology and design to solve that issue. We’ll show that creatives can be good at business, and hopefully usher in a whole new Renaissance in music.”