This article was originally published on Brand Channel here, and written by Sheila Shayon.
As digital continues to fragment audiences, artists and brands are looking to innovative platforms to deliver better targeted content that delivers on consumer satisfaction and business ROI.
With that in mind, the music marketing tech startup Music Audience Exchange has announced a $6 million funding round led by MATH Venture Partners and KDWC Ventures, along with G-Bar Ventures and Gregg Latterman, Founder and CEO of Aware Records.
Its goal is simple: to match brands with artists and music fans, and help musicians get paid.
As MAX puts it, “it’s a technology company that helps consumer brands and music artists form mutually beneficial partnerships to drive measurable results.” The consumer marketing platform is powered by music artists and driven by data leveraging proprietary data science.
Its technology cross-indexes 2.4 million artists across 765 genres with 200+ consumer attributes to offer brands a perfect fit with audiences they’re targeting. As it’s fond of saying, “Everyone wins when the music in an advertisement leads the viewer to explore the brand’s offering AND the artist’s songs.”
With offices in Dallas and Los Angeles, the team also works with artists and brands to produce custom branded content prominently featuring the musicians. MAX’s platform distributes audio, video, and written content to hyper-targeted audiences across radio, streaming and social media.
“We’re redefining the role that brands play in the music industry,” stated MAX Founder and CEO Nathan Hanks. “The new funds will help us accelerate adoption of our platform, which is bringing much-needed data and structure to the intersection of music and brand marketing. We’re aligning brands, their agency partners and artists—and empowering them to connect deeply with audiences through music.”
As its 2016 recap noted,
In 2016, the MAX Platform powered 40 distinct brand-artist partnerships that were integrated across radio, streaming, social media, video, and live experiences. And we didn’t do this just by just taking an educated guess at which artists “made sense” for a brand. Instead, we empowered brands, agencies, and artists to leverage real, tangible data around consumer tastes in music and consumption habits, which in turn led to real, tangible results for everyone involved.
Dr Pepper and Jack Daniel’s were among the first brands using the MAX Platform for partnerships, along with Twix and McDonald’s, while participating artists include NEEDTOBREATHE, Leela James, Aaron Watson and 2017 Grammy Nominee La Maquinaria Norteña.
The 2015 launch video for Dr Pepper’s “One of a Kind Sound” series was designed by MAX and replicated pre-release album teasers geared towards specific demographic targets for brands while giving lesser-known bands valuable exposure.
“Artists are calling us months in advance, and they’re thinking about these partnerships as the marketing strategy for the single or for the album,” Hanks told NPR.
Since 2015, MAX has created programs across automotive, food, beverage and consumer services, including more than 40 campaigns for Ford’s regional dealer groups across the US using English and Spanish music genres.
The US-wide “Summer Out Loud” campaign for Twix with pop-punk headliner, Mayday Parade, increased sales significantly and tens of thousands of fan entries to win a chance to meet the band.
“MAX has moved from a new marketing category innovator to dominant marketing company contender status quickly,” said Troy Henikoff, Managing Director at MATH Venture Partners. “The constant stream of brand, artist, and consumer wins led to our investment interest. “What MAX is doing is entirely new and extremely valuable.”
Hanks learned the music business by growing up in a family of working musicians. Prior to MAX, co-founded ReachLocal, which grew to 24,000 clients across 15 countries and over $500 million in annual revenue.
Company co-founder George Howard was formerly the president of indie label Rykodisc and Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music and Brown University.
Want to hear more on their new business model for musicians and brands? MAX will be at SXSW on March 15, where Hanks and Howard will speak on a panel titled, “The New Deal: Why Brands Will Buy Artists Airtime.”