Mandolin, a livestream concert startup backed by software as a service (SaaS) venture studio High Alpha, has raised $5 million in seed capital.
Mandolin recently announced the successful seed-funding round, which marks its first fundraising effort since debuting in June. Indianapolis, Indiana-headquartered High Alpha contributed the largest piece of the $5 million tranche, though billionaire Time owner Marc Benioff also participated. Mary Kay Huse, a former exec at Benioff’s Salesforce software company, is heading Mandolin.
The four-month-old platform, which appears tailored for both venues and artists, has already livestreamed a number of gigs (and has many other sets booked through the remainder of October). Essentially, Mandolin connects with clients for individual shows or full tours, handling remote-performance logistics including monetization options (tipping, tickets, and merch sales among them) in addition to producing the livestreams themselves.
On the artist side, the Indiana-headquartered startup’s website relays that musicians can play their livestream concerts from venues, commercial studios, or even the comfort of home, at personal studios. And Mandolin, which describes itself as the “first unified platform built to provide concert-level audio and video quality,” then delivers a lossless, high-definition product to fans, replicating the traditional-concert experience over the internet.
High Alpha’s marketing director indicated in a recent interview that he expects Mandolin’s 30-person team to double during the next year or so, as the service begins hosting more performances.
Interestingly, this individual acknowledged that VR concerts will be unable to replace their physical counterparts, but emphasized that equipping venues with livestream technology could usher in the rise of “hybrid” concerts post-COVID, to the particular benefit of fans who cannot attend in person. Thus far, Mandolin has inked deals with Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and City Winery, as well as Indiana’s 400-capacity HI-FI.
As a whole, livestream concerts have become increasingly popular in 2020, with more than a few fans (and artists) looking to enjoy live music as coronavirus lockdown measures remain in place. Amazon Music rolled out support for livestream performances last month, and Spotify is reportedly planning to follow suit. Additionally, K-pop mainstay BTS demonstrated the immense potential profitability of remote concerts with Bang Bang Con: The Live, which, as the biggest online concert of all time, generated north of $20 million.
Leading music industry businesses have made a series of sizable investments in virtual-reality concert apps and technology as well. Apple acquired NextVR for a reported $100 million back in May, for instance, while August saw TIDAL drop $7 million on Sensorium “tokens,” the official currency of an upcoming “all-digital alternate universe” that will center on live concerts and music festivals.