Even, a creative platform that allows artists to sell music directly to fans, said it has closed a $2.2 million seed round led by CSA Partners.
The platform positions itself as the first stop before artists release music on streaming platforms. Fans, in return, receive access to exclusive content and experiences. Mag Rodriguez, the company’s CEO and founder, said he started building the platform last February to help black and brown artists capture equity in their creative work.
Rodríguez EVEN aims to address other pain points artists have today, such as getting compensated or properly paid, by making it easier for fans to connect with their fans so fans can support artists and not pay reseller platforms.
One of the main issues is that black and brown artists are often not properly considered as the source of many mainstream trends. This situation is even worse for streaming artists, some of whom have been accused of not fairly compensating their artists.
For fans, supporting our favorite artists has become very expensive. For example, concert tickets go to sellers who inflate the price, or chances are they only go to special credit card members rather than to someone who is a core fan of the artist. All of this often leaves black, brown and other fans who can’t afford resale tickets or qualify for expensive specials.
“Some of the greatest artists on the planet are black and brown, but the companies that serve them are not run by people who look like them, so this is a big issue of artists not getting paid enough or not getting paid every day,” Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez said the business plans to use the seed money to help grow the business. The platform, currently in beta, is currently free to use and ad-free, and generates revenue by charging transaction fees. EVEN is built on blockchain to provide greater transparency regarding such transactions.
The company plans to partner with artists like French Montana and test products like a chat feature to help artists and fans communicate. EVEN hopes to launch later this year with over 600 artists; Rodriguez said the waiting list for those wanting to join the platform currently tops 4,000.
A 10-year veteran of the music industry, Rodriguez was introduced to the world of technology in 2018 after helping to build the arts program of Madison, Wisconsin-based startup 8Ter. He got involved with the momentum, then introduced him to those who helped him raise the seed money.
He’s now part of a club: Less than 5% of venture capital money in any given year goes to Latino founders. Because fund managers are also woefully underrepresented (less than 5% of VCs are Latino), Rodriguez made sure to include diverse fund managers when building his capital table, such as Raquel Filanovich, a Latino acquaintance and VC founder and managing partner. 414.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Filmanowicz said Rodriguez’s “creative and innovative approach to solving pressing problems in the music industry” made him “exactly the type of VC 414 entrepreneur” he looks back on. “We are impressed with EVEN’s early traction and are very proud to be an early investor in EVEN Lab.”
Other investors in the round include GANGELS, Gener8tor and Angel investors Daniel Rothman, Adi Akufo-Aful and Ogo.