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Fanbase-Development Startup Levellr Raises Million in Crush-Led Pre-Seed Round: ‘We’re Building a Product the Music Industry Needs’

A live performance from Crush Music client Fall Out Boy, which launched a Discord server via Levellr. Photo Credit: Fernando Loz

Fanbase-development startup Levellr, which counts as clients Warner Music and Universal Music, has announced a $1 million pre-seed round.

London-headquartered Levellr just recently unveiled the million-dollar raise and its adjacent expansion plans. On the former front, Crush Music’s venture arm, Crush Capital, is said to have led the round – with lead investor Andrew Kahn pointing to the perceived commercial potential of superfans as one of the reasons for the backing.

“We understand the value of authentic engaged fanbases, and in particular the power of superfans,” indicated Kahn, whose company has now invested in Sound.xyz, AudioShake, and others on the year. “Levellr showed us that they understand the space deeply, having landed such an impressive roster of customers mostly bootstrapped. We’re excited to be part of the journey as an investor and a customer.”

According to its website, two-year-old Levellr – which was co-founded by former Google/YouTube Music higher-up Ben Barbersmith and counts as team members 300 and Believe vets – assists artists in developing, moderating, and monetizing fanbases on platforms such as Discord and Telegram.

Through one Levellr form, for instance, fans can become part of Steve Aoki’s Discord server – while also joining the DJ’s mailing list. And via the Levellr interface itself, artists and their teams can view details including supporters’ email addresses, countries of residence, and interaction data – presumably putting the information to use in terms of tailoring marketing initiatives, reaching out to superfans with special offers, and more.

Back to the specifics of the $1 million pre-seed round and ongoing Crush-Levellr projects, the entities disclosed that they’d collaborated on the launch of a Fall Out Boy Discord server. Some 10,000 fans signed up via Levellr in the first 48 hours, with a 56 percent marketing-consent opt-in rate against an “industry average” of two percent, according to the businesses.

“Before meeting Levellr, we had tried building communities directly on Discord, but it was very difficult to properly scale across the roster,” Crush Music CMO Dan Kruchkow added in part. “From an effective launch, to the manpower required to service them, to moderation to keep them clean and vibrant – Levellr solves for almost all of it.”

Regarding Levellr’s aforementioned expansion plans, the startup relayed that it’ll use the $1 million tranche “to scale up,” including bolstering its “product, engineering and customer success teams to meet demand across the UK and US” and growing “into new verticals alongside music, including sport, gaming and entertainment.”

And in remarks of his own, Levellr co-founder and CEO Tom Gayner made clear his ambitious vision for the community-building platform’s industry role moving forward.

“Crush has been a genuine partner from day one,” said the former Octagon higher-up. “They truly understand the fan, providing invaluable insights and feedback for the product. They’ve backed up investing in us by bringing our software in to help their artist roster, which is a great sign we’re building a product the music industry needs. We think music is a bellwether for how our platform can help brands across industries.”

Back in February, AI-powered fan-management startup Rivet scored $500,000 in pre-seed funding, while July saw fan-monetization service Passes acquire Chainsmokers-backed “subscription social media platform” Fanhouse. And earlier this week, SM Entertainment artists arrived on Weverse, the strong-performing superfan app of rival K-pop agency Hybe.

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