Trac Raises $2.5 Million To Help Artists Monetize Their Music and Merch - dot.LA

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Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
Music tech startup Trac, which helps independent artists distribute songs, merchandise and NFTs, has raised $2.5 million in pre-seed funding led by Nigerian investment firm Zrosk.
Launched in 2020 by founder Cardin Campbell, a former marketing tech executive at Peloton and Expedia, Trac pitches itself as a one-stop shop for musicians to monetize and manage their careers. The Santa Monica-based company allows artists to upload songs and get them distributed on major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. It also lets artists design and sell merchandise like shirts, hats and hoodies through websites that the platform builds for them.
While Trac offers its music distribution services for free, it offers premium features like quicker payouts of streaming revenues through subscriptions starting at $60 annually, according to its website. The company also collects a 3% transaction fee on earnings paid out to artists. Roughly 200,000 artists have used the platform to date, a Trac spokesperson said.

Trac Raises $2.5 Million To Help Artists Monetize Their Music and Merch - dot.LA

Trac founder and CEO Cardin Campbell.

Courtesy of Trac

Campbell told dot.LA that he envisions Trac becoming something like an Amazon Web Services for artists—a single platform for both emerging musicians and superstars to run their operations. Currently, most of Trac’s customers are up-and-comers who don’t have a record label behind them—and aren’t in a rush for one either, according to Campbell.

“[Trac’s artists] want to remain independent,” Campbell said. “So our product is literally helping them with that and making sure that they can retain all the rights that they possibly can, and monetize their name and likeness and the music with their fans really easily.”

Joining Lagos-based Zrosk in the pre-seed round were AppWorks, InfinityVC, Calm Company Fund and Dapper Labs, as well as angel investors like Roham Gharegozlou and Siqi Chen.

Trac founder and CEO Cardin Campbell.
Courtesy of Trac
Campbell told dot.LA that he envisions Trac becoming something like an Amazon Web Services for artists—a single platform for both emerging musicians and superstars to run their operations. Currently, most of Trac’s customers are up-and-comers who don’t have a record label behind them—and aren’t in a rush for one either, according to Campbell.
“[Trac’s artists] want to remain independent,” Campbell said. “So our product is literally helping them with that and making sure that they can retain all the rights that they possibly can, and monetize their name and likeness and the music with their fans really easily.”
Joining Lagos-based Zrosk in the pre-seed round were AppWorks, InfinityVC, Calm Company Fund and Dapper Labs, as well as angel investors like Roham Gharegozlou and Siqi Chen.
Trac—which currently has 45 employees but less than 10 full-timers—plans to use the funds to grow its engineering and operations teams. Like seemingly everyone else in the music industry these days, the startup plans to enter the world of crypto in the coming weeks and begin minting non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, for its artists, Campbell said. Trac also wants to create decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) for artists, who could then sell their own crypto tokens to raise capital and give fans a share of their future revenues.

“You’re literally investing in that artist’s future and helping to get them to that next level,” Campbell said of Trac’s DAO designs. “It’s flipping the industry on its head.”
Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
The mother of a 10-year-old girl who died after allegedly trying a dangerous online “challenge” has sued Culver City-based TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance, claiming the social media app’s algorithm showed her videos of people choking themselves until they pass out.
Nylah Anderson, an intelligent child who already spoke three languages, was “excruciatingly asphyxiated” and found unconscious in her bedroom on Dec. 7, according to a complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Pennsylvania. She spent five days in pediatric intensive care until succumbing to her injuries.
The lawsuit, filed by her mother Tawainna Anderson, claims TikTok’s algorithm had previously shown Nylah videos depicting the “Blackout Challenge,” in which people hold their breath or choke themselves with household items to achieve a euphoric feeling. That encouraged her to try it herself, the lawsuit alleged.
“The TikTok Defendants’ algorithm determined that the deadly Blackout Challenge was well-tailored and likely to be of interest to 10-year-old Nylah Anderson, and she died as a result,” the suit said.
In a previous statement about Nylah’s death, a TikTok spokesperson noted the “disturbing” challenge predates TikTok, pointing to a 2008 warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about deadly choking games. The spokesperson claimed the challenge “has never been a TikTok trend.” The app currently doesn’t produce any search results for “Blackout Challenge” or a related hashtag.
“We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found,” the TikTok statement said. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the family for their tragic loss.”
At least four other children or teens have died after allegedly attempting the Blackout Challenge, according to the Anderson lawsuit. TikTok has grappled with dangerous challenges on its platform before, including one in which people tried to climb a stack of milk crates. That was considered so dangerous that TikTok banned the hashtag associated with it last year. In February, TikTok updated its content rules to combat the dangerous acts and other harmful content.
The Anderson lawsuit comes as lawmakers and state attorneys general scrutinize how TikTok and other social media can be bad for teens and younger users, including by damaging their mental health, causing negative feelings about their body image and making them addicted to the apps.
Christian Hetrick is dot.LA’s Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.
Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA’s Daily Bruin.
Netflix promised change after its poor first-quarter earnings. One of the first targets: the Netflix Culture document.
The changes, which Variety reported on Thursday, indicate a new focus on fiscal responsibility and concern about censorship. While promises to support honest feedback and open decision-making remain, the memo’s first update in almost five years reveals that the days of lax spending are over. The newly added “artistic expression” section emphasizes Netflix’s refusal to censor its work and implores employees to support the platform’s content.
The “artistic expression” section states that the company will not “censor specific artists or voices” and specifies that employees may have to work on content “they perceive to be harmful.” The memo points to ratings, content warnings and parental controls as ways for users to determine what is appropriate content.
Censorship has been a contentious issue within Netflix. Last year, employees walked out in protest after the company stood by comedian Dave Chappelle’s special, “The Closer,” which many said was transphobic. The streaming service has since announced four more specials from the comedian, who was attacked on stage at Netflix’s first comedy festival. The show will not air on the platform, as Netflix did not tape the event.
The reaction to Chappelle’s 2021 special ripples further in the updated memo. After firing an employee who leaked how much the company paid for the special, the new “ethical expectations” section directs employees to protect company information.
The memo also reflects pressure borught by poor first-quarter earnings. Employees are now instructed to “spend our members’ money wisely,” and Variety reported that earlier passages that indicated a lack of spending limits were cut. Variety also found that the updated memo removed promises that the company would not make employees take pay cuts in the face of Netflix’s own financial struggles.
These updates come as employee morale has reportedly dropped and editorial staffers at the Netflix website TuDum were laid off en masse. Those employees were offered two weeks of severance pay—and Netflix has now cut a section in the memo promising four months of full pay as severance.
As the company that literally wrote the book on corporate culture faces internal struggles, it’s unlikely that making employees take on more responsibility while prioritizing corporate secrecy and discouraging content criticism will improve morale.
Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA’s Daily Bruin.
Decerry Donato is dot.LA’s Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor’s degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.
Mahmee, an integrated care delivery platform for maternal and infant health that connects patients, health professionals, and healthcare organizations to increase access to prenatal and postpartum care, raised a $9.2 million Series A funding round led by Goldman Sachs.
FutureProof Technologies, a climate risk analytics platform, raised $6.5 million in capital led by AXIS Digital Ventures along with Innovation Endeavors and MS&AD Ventures.
Anja Health, a doctor-backed cord blood banking company, raised $4.5 million led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six.
Wave Financial LLC, a digital asset investment management company, is launching a $60 million fund to deploy capital via cryptocurrency.
Raises is dot.LA’s weekly feature highlighting venture capital funding news across Southern California’s tech and startup ecosystem. Please send fundraising news to Decerry Donato (decerrydonato@dot.la).
Decerry Donato is dot.LA’s Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor’s degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.
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