Social listening app Earbuds raises $3 million in Series A funding

Most startup origin tales don’t start on an NFL discipline, however that’s the place founder, CEO and offensive sort out Jason Fox conceptualized the concept behind Earbuds. As he watched first general draft decide Cam Newton heat up earlier than a recreation in 2011, dancing to music, Fox couldn’t assist however surprise what the longer term NFL MVP was listening to — and he wager that the group of 85,000 followers had been curious too.

Ten years later, Earbuds has raised a $3 million Sequence A spherical for its social listening app, led by Ecliptic Capital with extra funding from the Andre Agassi Basis and LFG Ventures.

Since its launch in 2019, Earbuds has allowed customers — whether or not they’re well-known artists, NFL stars or strange folks — to share their favourite playlists, livestream music like a DJ and touch upon different folks’s music picks. Some notable figures on the app embrace the artist Nelly {and professional} quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, the highest-paid player within the NFL. Mayfield and Mahomes are additionally traders within the app.

With this current increase, Fox and his crew of six plan to increase the app so as to add creator monetization instruments, incentivizing folks to make use of the app. Plus, Earbuds additionally introduced that it employed two former product and engineering leaders from Apple, David Ransom and Sean Moubry, who joined Earbuds as head of Product and head of Engineering, respectively. Tech veteran Drew Larner additionally got here aboard as a senior advisor and investor — in 2015, he bought the streaming app Rdio to Pandora. Pandora was then sold to Sirius XM for $3.5 billion in 2018.

Picture Credit: Earbuds’ interface permits customers to seek for athlete accounts/Earbuds.

To make use of Earbuds, customers will need to have a paid account on Spotify or Apple Music. Quickly, Fox says, Earbuds ought to have integrations with paid variations of Amazon Music and Pandora, too. These integrations are how the app, obtainable on each iOS and Android, is ready to supply music for streaming. However no matter which platform a listener makes use of, they will nonetheless make the most of the social options on Earbuds, listening alongside to stay playlists and commenting together with different listeners.

If you join your account, you’re capable of simply import your current playlists. Then, on the app, you possibly can add voice clips to remark in your music selections. When listening to a stream, customers have the choice to save lots of the playlist to their streaming service or share it as an Instagram story.

Fox declined to share month-to-month lively consumer numbers, however expressed confidence that soliciting customers from different streaming platforms’ current subscriber base received’t be a giant hurdle for consumer acquisition; with regards to paid streaming music subscribers, Spotify has 165 million users, Apple Music has at least 60 million and Amazon music has at least 55 million.

“We need to proceed so as to add extra streaming companions to accommodate everybody. We need to join with all customers no matter what platform they use,” Fox mentioned.

Picture Credit: Earbuds founder and CEO Jason Fox/Earbuds.

Fox desires extra musical artists to make use of the app, however given his background as an NFL participant, a lot of the corporate’s current advertising has been focused towards athletes and sports activities followers — a very attention-grabbing potential marketplace for Earbuds is NCAA athletes, who’re newly able to monetize their picture and likeness. 

“You’ve bought the quarterback earlier than the massive rivalry recreation, and so they need to have the ability to monetize the followers whereas they’re listening to music and getting amped up with them earlier than the sport,” Fox defined.

Since these monetization instruments haven’t rolled out but, there’s at present no in-app purchases obtainable on Earbuds. This could give Earbuds, which isn’t but worthwhile, one other revenue stream. To date, the app has made cash by in-app sponsored posts from companions just like the NBA, the NFL playoffs, sensible speaker firms and beverage firms.

“We are able to proceed to do this, however we really feel like the vast majority of development and income transferring ahead will likely be by partnerships, integrations and supporting the creator economic system,” Fox mentioned. Presently, Earbuds has a partnership with Apple Music, so if somebody subscribes to the platform by way of Earbuds, Earbuds will get a minimize of their subscription fee.

As streaming companies like Spotify develop, social listening apps like Earbuds are rising too. Spotify itself has rolled out extra social listening features these days, together with a Music + Talk platform much like Earbuds’ current choices.

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