Creative platform EVEN raises $2.3M seed round to help artists sell directly to fans

Image Credits: Mag Rodriguez

Creative platform EVEN, which enables artists to sell music directly to fans, said it has closed a $2.2 million seed round led by CSA Partners.

The platform is positioned as the first stop before artists release music on streaming platforms. Fans in return get access to exclusive content and experiences. The company’s CEO and founder Mag Rodriguez says he started building the platform last February as a way to help black and brown artists retain equity in their creative work.

Rodriguez said EVEN aims to address other pain points artists have today, such as being compensated or credited properly, by allowing them to easily connect with their fans, which in turn allows fans to support artists and avoid paying fees to distribution platforms.

One of the biggest problems is that black and brown artists are often not properly credited as the source of many mainstream trends. This situation is worse for artists dealing with streaming platforms, some of which have been accused of not properly compensating any of the artists in a fair manner.

It’s getting more and more expensive for fans to support their favorite artists. For example, concert tickets go to distributors who then raise the price, or opportunities only go to exclusive members with credit cards and not to any of the artist’s core fan base. All of this often leaves out black, brown and other fans from marginalized communities who can’t afford resale tickets or qualify for expensive, exclusive opportunities.

“Some of the biggest artists on the planet are black and brown, but the companies that serve them aren’t run by people who look like them, hence this big problem with artists not getting paid enough or being paid enough daily,” Rodriguez added.

Rodriguez says the business plans to use the seed money to hire and help grow the business. The platform, which is currently in beta, is free to use and currently ad-free and generates revenue by charging transaction fees. EVEN is built on the blockchain to provide more transparency regarding such transactions.

The company plans to partner with artists like French Montana and experiment with products like a chat feature to allow artists and fans to communicate. EVEN hopes to launch later this year with more than 600 artists; Rodriguez said the waiting list of those wanting to join the platform currently exceeds 4,000.

A 10-year veteran of the music industry, Rodriguez was introduced to the tech world after helping build an arts program for gener8tor, a startup accelerator based in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2018. As that program grew in popularity, he was introduced to investors involved in the accelerator, who then introduced him to others who helped him raise seed funding.

Now he’s part of a rarefied club: in any given year, less than 5% of all venture capital funding goes to Latin American founders. Because fund managers are also grossly underrepresented (less than 5% of VCs are Latino), Rodriguez said, when compiling his cap table, he made sure to include diverse fund managers like Raquel Filmanowicz, who identifies as Latina and is the founder and managing partner at VC 414.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Filmanowicz said Rodriguez’s “creative and innovative approach to solving a vexing problem in the music industry” made him “exactly the type of entrepreneur VC 414” is looking for. “We are impressed with EVEN’s early traction and are extremely proud to be an early investor in EVEN Labs.”

Other investors in the round include gAngels, gener8tor and angel investors Daniel Rotman, Adie Akuffo-Afful and Ogo.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *